Tebow still a bystander as Jets' offense struggles

Associated Press Modified: September 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm •  Published: September 26, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Mark Sanchez was mostly miserable in Miami. Tim Tebow was ineffective despite getting more snaps than he had in the New York Jets' first two games.

Sanchez has shown a knack for coming through late in games — as he did late in the Jets' 23-20 overtime victory over the Dolphins last Sunday. But in a few situations that appeared perfect for Tebow, the playmaking backup remained on the sideline.

That had many fans and media wondering: Where's Tebow?

"I didn't know exactly what to expect," said Tebow, who was on the field for about 14 offensive plays in Miami. "I'm just trying to be ready anytime my number is called and find a way to help the team."

Well, Tebow's role on the offense remains a mystery as the once-secret wildcat package has been rarely used. After all, that was the major selling point on Tebow this summer, that the Jets acquired him from Denver to add a dynamic yet unpredictable presence to the offense.

So far, it's been unpredictable. Dynamic, not so much.

But the fact opponents have to prepare for Tebow is part of the game plan, both coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano have insisted. So, Buffalo must have been surprised when Tebow was in on just nine offensive plays in the opener. Same for Pittsburgh, which saw Tebow for just three offensive plays — all during one third-quarter possession.

"I'm not sure," Tebow said Wednesday when asked if he might be used more this weekend against San Francisco. "I'm just trying to get through practice every day and improve in that. We'll see what happens on Sunday."

So will the 49ers, who know better than to overlook Tebow, even though he has yet to throw a pass with the Jets.

"We know he's capable," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "He's running the ball out of it most of the time. ... But, he's a quarterback, so we know that he can throw the ball at any time."

It certainly seems the Jets' struggling offense could benefit from Tebow being in games for more than just a few plays here and there. His biggest play at Miami was calling a fake punt on fourth-and-3 from the Jets 25 and running it 5 yards for a first down on a drive that led to a field goal.

But there was also the play shown countless times on the highlight reels when Sanchez zipped a pass to Tebow — and hit him square in the helmet. Tebow said after the game that he "wasn't expecting it that quick," which led to plenty of chuckles by those who have doubted this experiment would even work in the first place.

Early in the third quarter, the Jets had the ball on second down from the Dolphins 2 and brought Tebow on the field. He was sacked and lost 5 yards, and Sanchez came back in — and was promptly intercepted.

At the end of the quarter, Sanchez connected with Jeremy Kerley on a 66-yard pass, giving New York the ball at Miami's 5. This time, it was not Tebow Time — leaving many scratching their heads as the Jets ended up settling for a field goal.

Meanwhile, Sanchez struggled mightily at times for the second straight game with some dismal passing numbers: 21 of 45 for 306 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a 58.2 quarterback rating. He overthrew Jeff Cumberland and Chaz Schilens on plays that probably should have been touchdowns. But, he also wasn't helped by inconsistent receivers who couldn't make plays at times for their quarterback.

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