FLORHAM PARK, N.J.
Forget the media circus. Forget trying to figure out whether the idea came from Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum or Rex Ryan. Forget whether it was done to sell PSLs or hot dogs. And forget all the controversy surrounding the most talked-about backup quarterback we've ever come across.
The bottom line with Tim Tebow and the Jets is this: After 10 games, it is abundantly clear that the Jets do not see him as a viable alternative to Mark Sanchez and will use him only for a perfunctory number of plays each game. So once the season ends, the Jets need to do the right thing by them and the right thing by Tebow and let him find a team where he can get some meaningful playing time.
Tebow has done an extraordinary job of trying not to become a distraction in a locker room often filled with them. But let's face it. After all the anticipation of what the Jets might look like with Tebow, he has made almost zero impact because the Jets haven't been willing to use him in a meaningful way.
In a candid conversation Monday in the Jets' locker room, Tebow shared some thoughts about his situation, and talked about how differently things have worked out from what he had expected after his trade last March, and how he'd love to be playing more. It wasn't a complaint, mind you, and Tebow did not say whether he wants to be traded after the season. Full disclosure: I made it clear to Tebow that I was writing a column suggesting the Jets allow him to seek a trade to a team where he would have a chance to play more.
"For me, obviously, I'm a competitor, and I love to play," he said. "It's why you play the game. You don't play it for any other reasons. But sometimes, you try to do the best in these situations and make the most of it, and that's what I'm trying to do."
Tebow admits there was uncertainty about his role. But Ryan built up the possibilities.
"The great thing is you don't know if we're going to run it one snap a game or 20 snaps a game," he said of the Wildcat. "You have no idea. Every week, it could be different."
But every week, it is more of the same with Tebow. Which isn't very much. He's averaging 2.9 carries per game and has attempted seven passes all season.
"I don't know if anybody knew how it was going to happen," Tebow said. "I think we all didn't know what to expect. It was kind of a feel thing as we went along. For us, it's not about looking at the past 10 games, it's about figuring out a way to make the last six as good as we can and being optimistic about that and trying to find a way to help this team win football games."
But unless the Jets reverse course, then it will be more of the same. Sanchez, who is coming off one of his best games of the season, will play all but a few snaps, and Tebow will get one or two carries here and there. Wildcat? More like Mildcat.
"I would have loved to make more of some of these opportunities and be able to make a bigger impact, yeah, definitely," Tebow said. "The coaches just try to figure out the best game plan they can have, and just try to do the best we can with it."
And what about next year? "We've got six more games this year and hopefully a few more," he said. "So we have to get through that first."
But the season will soon end, whether it's at the end of the regular season or, if the Jets can somehow make an unexpected playoff run, sometime in the postseason. And once that day arrives, the Jets need to do the right thing for all parties and work out a deal for Tebow.
Bring in another quarterback to compete with Sanchez in a more conventional theme. Or, if Sanchez falters badly down the stretch, then consider making a major draft-day investment in a potential franchise quarterback.
Tebow doesn't fit either category as far as the Jets are concerned, so let him go where he can compete for meaningful playing time and then move on.
Tebow wouldn't come right out and say that's what he wanted. But at the end of our conversation, after I had repeated that I would write that this thing simply hasn't worked out and that it was time to move on, Tebow said, "I can't tell you how to do your job. You'll do it just fine."
Draw your own conclusions.