Rex Ryan reiterated what he’s said all offseason about Tim Tebow’s quarterbacking ability.
“I believe Tim can pass.”
Just not on second-and-16, apparently.
The Jets coach grew more and more agitated as the Tebow questions kept piling up – mainly, why he and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano chose to pull their Wildcat wonder off the field after his 22-yard run – the longest single gain on the ground – against the Steelers in Sunday’s 27-10 loss.
“Clearly what I loved about…that big run: the emotion and all that kind of stuff,” Ryan said of Tebow’s effort. “It was great to see. And I’ve always said he’s a tremendous football player.”
Joe McKnight followed suit on the next play, scampering 12 yards up the right side. But after running back Shonn Greene was stopped for a loss of six, the Jets were faced with a second-and-16 on Pittsburgh’s 45.
Within minutes, Mark Sanchez was trotting back onto the field and Tebow was making his exit, his momentum was quashed.
After the game, Ryan was asked to explain why he opted for Sanchez in that situation. “Obviously at the time you’re out of it and then by then, we’re down several points, so I think you need to throw the ball in those situations,” he said in his post-game press conference.
On Monday, however, the coach backtracked.
Asked why he didn’t think he could trust Tebow to throw the ball in a passing situation, Ryan quickly interjected: “I never said we had to do anything.
“...He can pass,” he continued. “Right now, we think Mark gives us the best chance to be successful in that particular situation, against that particular opponent.
"And those are things that we’ll always look at. But I believe Tim can pass and we’ll make the decision on when a guy’s out there and when he’s not out there, or whatever.”
No one knows whether Tebow would have been able to make something happen on that second-and-16 play. But after his 22-yard run injected some life in an rather listless third-quarter offensive attack – it’s not unfair to question why the Jets backup quarterback wasn't able to finish what he started.
Ryan also bristled when answering multiple questions about the “Wildcat” during his morning-after presser. Tebow carried the ball just once in Sunday’s loss and handed it off twice -- compared to Week 1, when he ran fives times for 11 yards and didn’t throw a single pass.
But Ryan maintained the beauty of the Wildcat lies in teams not knowing when it’s going to sneak up on them,
“We’ve always said from Day 1, we can do it 20 times, 40 times, 10 times, 2 times. Whatever,” he said. “But we determine that, OK? It’s not just going to be that these specific things have to be lined up. It’s just that that’s exactly what happened in this game. Does that mean, given the exact same scenario against a different opponent, that you may or not use it? That’ll be us. We’ll always do what we think is in the best interest of our football team.”
And apparently, letting Tebow throw the ball Sunday wasn't in his team's best interest. Especially, down 20-10.