By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES—The New York Jets have the potential to be a dumpster fire.
Tim Tebow is an exciting player, but trading for him — and further destabilizing Mark Sanchez — was a blatant attention grab that won’t pay off in the end.
Two-quarterback systems don’t work over the long haul, and the psyche of the Jets is so fragile in the first place that bringing in Tebow only deepens the locker-room fissures that formed last season.
Football-wise, there’s an argument for Tebow. He’s a better backup than 41-year-old Mark Brunell, last year’s No. 2, and, as we saw in Denver last season, Tebow can win games with his feet. He’s also a great person and, as John Elway says, the type of guy you want your daughter to marry.
But the Jets have never done a particularly good job of handling the circus, and this promises to be one. Sanchez, who was on shaky ground anyway, suddenly has zero margin for error. As soon as he throws a pick or two — or maybe even before — the Tebow chants will be ringing in his Riddell.
Last week, Jets owner Woody Johnson said, “You can never have enough Tebow.”
Asked about that by the New York Daily News, Sanchez said: “Selling seats, man. Selling seats.”
Sanchez smiled as he delivered that line, and it was taken as a joke. But that falls under the category of many a true word spoken in jest.
We’ll see Sunday how the Jets incorporate the wildcat into their offense, when they play host to Buffalo. So far, New York hasn’t tipped its hand on that. Maybe offensive coordinator Tony Sparano can draw up some creative ways to get the ball into Tebow’s hands without dropping Sanchez’s confidence into the Cuisinart.
Here’s betting the experiment doesn’t work over the course of the season. The Jets will win some games, and their defense is good enough to keep them competitive throughout, but Sanchez and Tebow will eventually be nitro and glycerin.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still talking about an 18-game regular season? He’s got to drop that. Players don’t want it, and neither do the fans.
Jones also thinks the exhibition season should be cut to two games. Amen to that. Four games is way too many, and full-price tickets for them is the biggest scam in sports.
Time is money
Players can adjust to replacement officials calling games a little differently, letting some of the holding and grabbing slide. What the players don’t want is the stand-ins constantly huddling to discuss calls. That interrupts the flow of the game.
It’s like standing on in the middle of every fairway, constantly waiting for the chatty, molasses-slow group ahead of you to putt out. Your swing goes to garbage.
Networks aren’t happy if games last longer than 3 hours, 5 minutes. Regular officials are downgraded if their games run longer than they should. The stand-ins had better keep things moving, especially in the afternoon games, because NBC won’t be pleased if unfinished games eat into the network’s big-money Sunday night show.
My surprise team this season is St. Louis. Although I don’t think the Rams will make the playoffs, I can see them winning six or seven games, with Jeff Fisher pouring the foundation for long-term success. The club has stockpiled the draft picks, starting with trading the pick the Redskins used for RG3.
Luck of the draw
That collective gulp you hear is from the five rookie quarterbacks making their starting debuts. Each got a tough draw, with the Colts’ Andrew Luck at Chicago, the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III at New Orleans, the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill at Houston, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson at Arizona, and the Browns’ Brandon Weeden at home against Philadelphia.
Arizona is the easiest opponent of that bunch, you say? Not if Seattle is without running back Marshawn Lynch, who has a bad back. The Cardinals have a lot of defensive talent, and the Seahawks could be starting three rookies on offense: Wilson, Robert Turbin at tailback and J.R. Sweezy at right guard.
Sweezy is an interesting experiment on the offensive line, by the way, seeing as he hasn’t played there since peewee football. He’s always been a defensive player.
Some people say Pete Carroll is on the hot seat this season. Not so. Not yet. He’s completely rebooted that roster, and the running game and defense looked good at the end of last season. Seahawks owner Paul Allen is going to give him time to see how he can develop Wilson.
Merely a pause
A note on the Saints bounty scandal: The four players whose suspensions were lifted Friday got off on a technicality. Within a few weeks, the league will resubmit the penalties to the appeals panel and the suspensions will be reinforced. The NFL’s lawyers weren’t clear enough in their wording of the suspensions the first time around.
Mike Harris, the undrafted rookie from UCLA who’s starting at left tackle for San Diego, played college ball in the shadow of USC tackles Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil, both first-round picks.
That’s reminiscent of how Maurice Drew (now Jones-Drew) was an afterthought when USC’s Reggie Bush and LenDale White owned Los Angeles.
Smith can only pray his career works out the same way, because Jones-Drew has proved to be a far better pro than Bush or White.
All off-season, I heard about Giants receiver Victor Cruz doing book signings, photo shoots for GQ, presenting an award at the Grammys. Then, he goes out and drops three balls in Wednesday’s loss to the Cowboys. Where’s that hunger he had as an undrafted free agent?
Actually, I had an idea he’d drop those passes.
Because my son and I drafted him on our fantasy team.