Tony Sparano admits he can do better job of using Tim Tebow

Tony Sparano and Tim Tebow take in the Tony Sparano and Tim Tebow take in the action from the Jets bench during a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Sept. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The question of how to use Tim Tebow already has been answered, Tony Sparano said.

Nevertheless, the Jets' offensive coordinator admitted Thursday that he "can do a better job" of using his backup quarterback. And that means exploring more passing situations for Tebow.

Amid criticism of his play-calling and his under-utilization of the highly touted offseason acquisition, Sparano said he has "a pretty good feel" for how to use Tebow best.

"I don't think I'm still trying to figure that out," Sparano said. "I mean, I was born on a day, but not yesterday. I feel like I have a good answer on how to use him best. Can I put him in more in some of those different situations? Sure. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I can't do that."

But sometimes the flow of the game dictates that Tebow be relegated to the sideline, he said. Especially when starter Mark Sanchez is in a groove.

"It's just a feeling that you have through the course of a game," Sparano said. "When you're rolling and you feel that Mark is hot, you ride the hot hand at that point."

Sparano cited last week's game as proof: Sanchez was in a "really good rhythm'' -- passing for a season-high 328 yards in the overtime loss to the Patriots -- with a "small injection of Tim throughout that game."

Although Sparano insists he has a plan for Tebow, fans and media don't appear to be convinced. Even though Sanchez clearly had the "hot hand," with 2:01 left in regulation, Sparano moved him to wide receiver in the shotgun after the Jets recovered a fumble on a kickoff return. The result: a 2-yard run by Tebow.

Tebow finished with four rushes for 12 yards (the longest gain was 4) to bring his season total to 76 yards on 22 carries. He's thrown only three passes, completing two, for 32 yards, with 23 coming on a fake punt.

Asked why he hasn't let the backup air it out more, Sparano said it's been difficult to do so based on the varied looks defenses have given Tebow.

"You can't just dial these things up and think every play will be a successful play because it's Tim,'' Sparano said. "You have to give credit on the other side, too. That being said, throwing the football out of that is definitely something we have to consider doing more of, no question about it, because Tim can throw the ball.''

But while the Jets say (at least publicly) that Tebow is a major asset, his peers apparently do not agree. A Sports Illustrated poll of 180 NFL players named Tebow the most overrated player in the league with 34 percent of the votes. Sanchez was tied for second with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (8 percent), followed by Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and injured Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"Wow," Rex Ryan said with a laugh when told his quarterbacks finished 1-2. "What are you going to say? I don't even know how to comment on that. I just know that I'm happy they're on my football team. It seems like the Jets always get something."

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