LaRon Landry's day-long trip to ESPN's Bristol, Conn. compound began with appearances on SportsCenter and "First Take" -- and naturally, the topic of Tim Tebow came up.
While talking with "First Take" hosts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, Landry said he was surprised the Jets didn’t use Tebow more – and in a more creative way.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit more,” the Pro Bowl safety said of Tebow’s role, adding that it was too predictable. “It came to a point where, ‘Okay, Tim is going into the game, it’s going to be a power (run).
“I would’ve loved to have seen him throw the ball a little bit more, to mix it up a little bit more. …When he came in the game, what’d y’all think? It was going to be a run, right? Yeah, every time.”
Tebow averaged less than seven offensive snaps per game and attempted just eight passes in 2012.
The Jets' carousel of quarterbacks did little to help their success last season, as the team finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Starter Mark Sanchez – who was benched in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy late in the year – threw 18 interceptions (to 13 touchdowns) and lost 14 fumbles.
“Certain days I went into the office thinking like, 'Man, who's going to be up? Which quarterback is going to be up? How are we going to prepare for this week?’” Landry said.
“Cause we’ve been through three quarterbacks, including McElroy. And he came in and won a ballgame and then the following week we went back to Sanchez. That’s just our respect, our will to win with Sanchez. We gave him the starting job at the beginning of the season and we stuck with him.”
Landry, however, doesn’t think Sanchez’s struggles had anything to do with Tebow’s presence. “Not at all,” the safety said. “At every position you’re going to have depth. At every position you’re going to have a competitor behind you who wants to start. So if the pressure was on, then he wouldn’t have been a starter.”
When Bayless – a blatant Tebow-supporter – asked if Landry thought Sanchez did in fact “crumble under the pressure” of Tebowmania, the safety replied: “What happened the year before? Did they go to the playoffs? Exactly. With nobody behind him.”
Despite the excessive prodding of Bayless, Landry also defended Sanchez. “Not to take away from Mark, at all,” he said. He’s a playoff quarterback as well.”
Landry said he personally didn’t think Tebow was a distraction, adding that the backup QB is “a winner” and “a competitor.” He also said the Jets weren’t “that big of a circus.
“We stayed together tight as a family, as a unit,” Landry said. “We picked each other up when we were down. We know what each other is made of. How we were built. Some guys are built differently. Different personalities.”
Landry did his best not to criticize the Jets offense, but it was clear throughout 2012 that the defense had to compensate for their offensive teammates.
“If our opponents don’t score, they don’t win,” Landry said. “And that’s the approach we took. We had to be offensive players as well and put points on the board. And that’s our approach that we took. We rose up.
“…I look at it as, you could either be good or be great. And our defense just had to be great.”