|'I think Sanchez has absolutely looked terrific,' Ryan said earlier this week. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Cortland, N.Y., home of Jets training camp, has survived Tim Tebow. The team broke camp earlier this week which means that the infatuation with all things Tebow now becomes the media equivalent of a traveling circus. First stop: MetLife Stadium where the Giants and Jets will face off in a Week 2 preseason game.
But before officially closing the book on the two weeks in upstate New York, we wanted to point out the work of the Daily News's Manish Mehta, who painstakingly charted every training-camp throw from starting quarterback Mark Sanchez and Tebow.
Mark Sanchez's final stats for past 3 wks in Cortland (11on11s): 93 for 179 (52%), 6 TDs (5 pass, 1 rushing in goalline drills), 7 INTs— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) August 16, 2012
Upon further review, Tim Tebow actually completed 49.6% of his passes (61 for 123) in 11-on-11s at camp. 5 TDs (2 pass, 3 run), 3 INTs— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) August 16, 2012
In general, it's pointless to try to extrapolate camp stats into the regular season but it's worth noting that these numbers aren't that much different than the quarterbacks' career totals. In three seasons, Sanchez has completed 55.3 percent of his passes while Tebow is at 47.3 percent (hey, he's improving!) over two seasons.
If nothing else, these numbers provide some insight into an overarching theme: the Jets' passing game needs some work, from improving the quarterbacks' accuracy to finding depth at wide receiver behind Santonio Holmes, who is currently nursing sore ribs (and, no, Antonio Cromartie doesn't count).
One thing that hasn't changed since camp began: Sanchez is still the team's unquestioned starter. Coach Rex Ryan again reiterated as much while sounding unconcerned about camp stats.
"I think Sanchez has absolutely looked terrific," Ryan said during a recent radio appearance with Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "He's throwing the ball as well as I've ever seen him. And I think Tebow's improving in that area. … Defensively, I'm really excited about where the defense is at and a couple of the new guys we brought in, I think, have looked really good for us."
Smith and/or Ruocco then put this out there: "I say the fix is in and that it is inevitable that Tebow will start for the Jets at some point."
Ryan's response: "I'm going to say this: I think your 'the fix is in' comment is going to come back around just like my Super Bowl guarantee came around. Just like my thing never happened with the Super Bowl, this thing's not going to happen, either. I will say this, Tim is really doing a tremendous job for us. He is going to be a big part of what we do offensively. He's an outstanding football player and I've said it from Day 1. Nothing he has done has told me otherwise. … The guy that I've probably been most impressed with is Mark Sanchez."
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Yes, it's ironic that Ryan would point to his past promises as examples of things blowing up in your face but give the guy credit for being self-aware. It also puts Ryan in a predicament if, say, a month from now a perfectly healthy Sanchez is off to a perfectly dreadful start (it can happen), and fans and media are clamoring for Tebow to play.
For now, that's not a concern. Still, despite Ryan's laudatory remarks about Sanchez, the fourth-year quarterback has to get better if the Jets are going to compete in the AFC East. While Tebow may never start, the more he plays, the worse it is for Sanchez. NFL Films' Greg Cosell wrote about this last week.
"The more snaps Tebow plays at quarterback, the less likely it is that Sanchez will mature," Cosell said. "Having Tebow play four or five snaps per game is one thing; the Jets did that with Brad Smith in Sanchez's first two seasons. However, if Tebow plays 15-20 snaps, that's another story that will present Sanchez with an entirely different set of issues. One thing is certain: The fewer snaps Sanchez plays, the worse he will perform. That's a given."
One area where Cosell and Ryan agree: Sanchez can't do it by himself.
"I look at it this way, I think we've got to address protection first," Ryan said. "It's about running the football and protecting the quarterback first and second, and then we can get to throwing the ball down the field or whatever."
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