The Jets insist that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback. And he’ll likely remain the starting quarterback all year, taking the first snap of each game.
The real question is how many he’ll take thereafter.
At some point, Tim Tebow will enter the game, as part of the Wildcat package. Or, more accurately, the Tebow base package. He’ll be in shotgun with a sidecar tailback. He’ll run the read option, handing off to the inside if the defensive end goes wide or faking the exchange and bouncing outside if the defensive end pinches inside and clogs the hole through which the running back would have blasted. Sometimes, Tebow will throw after the fake handoff. Sometimes, he’ll read the end and go inside or outside without faking a handoff.
Regardless, the Jets will have the Sanchez package and the Tebow package. And it’s widely believed that the extent to which the Jets will use the Tebow package will depend on Sanchez’s performance.
On Sunday, coach Rex Ryan gave Sanchez some advance cover for poor performance that keeps him from staying on the field. If the Jets use more Tebow and less Sanchez, it may not happen because of Sanchez but because of the offensive line.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that, in response to a question regarding the possibility of Tebow getting more snaps if the line isn’t keeping defenders away from Sanchez, Ryan didn’t brush it off as irrelevant to the playing-time division.
“We’re open to anything,” Ryan said instead.
It’s a smart approach, given that a wide variety of factors will fuel the determination of which guy has the hot hand. Still, it won’t be easy to make those decisions in real time, especially when playing at home and the fans are shouting for Tebow when Sanchez is on the field and Sanchez when Tebow is on the field. When Ryan is peppered with questions on future Sundays regarding why a change from one to the other wasn’t made sooner, this Sunday’s remarks suggest that, in cases where it appears that Tebow played more because Sanchez struggled, Ryan may simply blame it on the blockers.