Tim Tebow will probably make Eagles – And Play Too

tim-tebow-eaglesTim Tebow hasn’t played a regular-season down in the NFL since 2012. And when he entered the broadcasting booth, it was looking more and more like he wouldn’t play in the NFL again. But Tebow decided to give it another shot with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, and it seems like he might actually be able to make the team.

Head coach Chip Kelly has been pleased with Tebow’s preseason so far, which gives hope that the former Heisman Trophy winner can make the 53-man roster when it’s decided in a week and a half.

Assuming he does make the team, Tebow would definitely be the third-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. However, if he did make the Eagles, the 28-year-old would likely play in some short-yardage, goal-line and extra-point situations.

The latter is key because the NFL has moved the extra-point line back so that teams will think more about going for two-point conversions. With Tebow, the Eagles would have a dual-threat quarterback who can run it in from 3 yards out just as easily as he can throw.

Another plus to putting Tebow on the roster is that he can take some pressure off Bradford in certain situations. Bradford has suffered two ACL tears in his career, so if Kelly can get him off the field at times, it would be nice.

tim-tebow-eagles-1So far Tebow has looked decent in his preseason games, completing 6-of-12 passes for 69 yards in his debut and rushing for another 15 yards and a touchdown. And it looks like the year and a half that he spent fine tuning his passing abilities with a quarterback guru have paid off.

However, this certainly isn’t to say that Tebow making the Eagles is any sort of guarantee. The 4-year veteran will have to beat out Matt Barkley for the third and final QB spot. Barkley, who was highly touted at USC, until stumbling to a fourth-round pick in the 2013 Draft, is a pocket passer who played in three games last year. And he’s only 24 years old, meaning he has plenty of time to develop.

But there are trade rumors circulating around Barkley, and he could be shipped to another team if Philadelphia ultimately decides to keep Tebow.

The decision will come down to measuring Barkley’s potential versus Tebow’s unique skill set. Philadelphia already has two pocket passers in Bradford and Sanchez; but if Bradford goes down, Sanchez is not exactly a Pro Bowler. So the hope would be that Barkley could eventually develop into a serviceable number two.

On the other hand, Tebow’s ability to run and throw gives him a dimension that the Eagles don’t currently have under center. Furthermore, with his improved passing ability, perhaps there’s still hope for Tebow to become a legitimate pocket passer who can be used in more than just specific situations.

Mark Sanchez: From Disgraced Backup to Guaranteed Starter?

mark-sanchezWith all but two teams eliminated from NFL title contention this year, many players have an eye towards the offseason and free agency. New York Jets backup QB Mark Sanchez is one of these players since he’s coming off a year where he didn’t play a single snap, yet he makes $8.25 million a season. Add in the fact that he’s due a $2 million signing bonus in March, and it only fuels speculation that the Jets will part with the 27-year-old.

With New York likely sticking to their second-year QB Geno Smith, there’s little reason to keep an overpaid backup. Sanchez hurt his shoulder in a preseason game while working behind the second team offensive line. He remained injured the rest of the season, though, it was largely reported that Smith had already won the starting job in the preseason anyways.

Assuming the Jets do cut Sanchez, there’s at least one team that guaranteed they would make him a starter. An anonymous head coach told the New York Post the following regarding the five-year veteran, “We’d take Sanchez. He’d be the starter as soon as he walked in the door for us.”

When looking at Sanchez’s numbers over the four years that he started, they don’t exactly scream high-profile free agent. He’s thrown just 68 touchdowns against 69 interceptions and has a career passer rating of 71.7%. But despite the subpar numbers, Sanchez’s talent has always intrigued teams.

mark-sanchez-1He was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and quickly assumed the Jets’ reigns in his rookie season. He also started twice in the AFC Championship game, just missing out on trips to the Super Bowl both times.

Given his experience, there are multiple teams that would be interested in a player like Sanchez. The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders all enter the offseason with huge questions under center. It’s very possible that one of these teams could have the mystery head coach with Sanchez on his wishlist.

When you put Sanchez up against some of the other free agent QB’s this year, he’s especially attractive. Michael Vick and Josh McCown lead the 2014 free agent class, while Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Shaun Hill and Matt Schaub (likely to be cut) will all draw interest too. Top NFL draft picks that’ll warrant heavy consideration among the league include Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr.

Still, that’s only 10 total quarterbacks when you consider both free agency and top-flight draft picks. So it’s no wonder that at least one head coach is already discussing how he’d start the veteran Sanchez in a heartbeat. The QB is currently rehabbing his shoulder in Birmingham, Alabama after having surgery last October. Assuming he can get back to full strength by the summer, there’s a great chance that he could land a starting job somewhere.

Should the New York Jets draft a QB in 2014?

geno-smith-jetsWhen the New York Jets took Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick this past draft, many thought New York was drafting their quarterback of the future. Sure there were questions regarding Smith’s professionalism and late-season decline at West Virginia. But his talent was evidently enough to warrant an early second-round draft choice.

The buzz around Smith only grew as he beat out a banged-up Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job. The young signal caller fared pretty well in his first game, completing 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. Smith also showed off his 4.59-forty speed by adding 47 yards on the ground. More importantly, he led New York to an 18-17 win over Tampa Bay.

Since this time, Smith has been up and down, with mostly downs to speak of lately. His statline reads of a quarterback who’d normally be benched by this point: 2,227 passing yards, 8 TD’s and 18 INT’s.

It’s worth mentioning that Smith has also added 178 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. But this isn’t nearly enough to make up for the 18 interceptions that he’s geno-smith-jets-1tossed so far. The last four games have been particularly bad, with Smith throwing for zero touchdowns and 7 INT’s. And if the Jets had a reliable veteran at quarterback this season, you have to wonder if they’d be much better than 5-6.

This might be the question that New York management asks themselves throughout the offseason. Going further, is it already time for the Jets to start thinking about taking another quarterback next year?

It’s certainly too early to completely write Smith off at this point. After all, starting in the NFL as a rookie is an extremely tough task, especially when you’re not a guaranteed franchise savior like Andrew Luck. But if Smith is to truly be the Jets’ QB of the future, he’s going to have to make some significant improvements in accuracy and getting rid of the ball on time.

It doesn’t help the former Mountaineer’s case that the 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with talent at the quarterback position. There are potentially 5-6 signal callers who could be major game-changers at the next level. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd lead the seniors, while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley head up the draft-eligible underclassmen.

geno-smith-jets-2The latter three prospects are virtually guaranteed a first-round selection, while the three seniors could go late in the first round or at some point in the second round. In any case, the Jets are going to have plenty of chances at drafting a good QB, even if they don’t trade up in the 2014 Draft.

Of course, everything is up in the air for New York right now. Geno Smith could suddenly come out and play much better, leading his team to several more wins and instilling some confidence among management. Given that the Jets are still very much alive in the AFC Wild Card race, Smith leading them to the postseason would really boost his stock.

But at the moment, with his 7 interceptions in the last four games, he’s really going to have to show something over the next few weeks. Or the Jets could be welcoming their new QB of the future on the draft podium next spring.

New York Jets QB Disaster: Sanchez injured, Smith has 3 INT’s

mark-sanchezGoing into the 2013-14 NFL season, nobody expected the New York Jets to have a dominate passing game. The incumbent starter, Mark Sanchez, has failed to make this HIS team, thanks to mediocre numbers over a four-year career. The other candidate, Geno Smith, is a rookie who’s raw and doesn’t seem quite ready to start an entire NFL season.

And if anybody had forgotten about how dismal the Jets’ quarterback situation was, they were issued a full reminder in the New York Giants game last night. Smith didn’t look like he was ready to start for an Arena League team as he tossed three interceptions, and stepped on the back of the end zone for a safety.

Later in the evening, Rex Ryan decided to insert Mark Sanchez in during the fourth quarter. Letting him play in meaningless garbage time was a baffling decision, especially since Sanchez still had an opportunity to win the starting quarterback battle. Plus he had backup lineman blocking for him who were just trying to land a roster spot.

geno-smith-jetsRyan’s poor decision was thrust onto center stage when Giants backup defensive tackle Marvin Austin nailed Sanchez’s right shoulder and sent him out of the game. There’s no word on the severity of the injury because the fifth-year veteran just had X-rays, and he’ll undergo magnetic resonate imaging today.

Following Saturday night’s debacle, Ryan seemed extremely annoyed at all of the questions sent his way regarding the QB situation. “We will make the announcement of the starting quarterback when we think it’s the appropriate time,” he said. “Not when you, not when this person, or this person, or this person (thinks it’s time). I can say anything I want – beauty of this country.”

The Jets headman received further questioning regarding his decision to play Sanchez in the fourth quarter. “That was my decision – that was coach’s decision all the way,” he said. “If it wasn’t important, then I wouldn’t have put him in there. I would have not put Mark in there if it wasn’t important. Well, after the injury you always have reservations. I understand being second-guessed and stuff when an injury happens – certainly I understand that – but that’s football.”

If Sanchez’s shoulder injury turns out to be anything really serious, fans will be questioning Ryan every step of the way. This is even truer if Smith opens the season as the starter and fails to produce solid results.

When New York picked Smith with the 39th overall selection in the draft, they were selecting a guy whom they thought could quickly overtake Sanchez and become a franchise player. It’s still quite early to tell if the Jets’ hopes will come to fruition. After all, there’s another preseason game left to play, and based on Sanchez’s injury, Smith could get a second start to prove his worth.

His first preseason start didn’t exactly yield desirable results since he completed 16-of-30 passes for 199 yards, one TD, three INT”s, a safety, and just a 45.7 passer rating. Hopefully Smith can come out next week and provide some assurance that he’s ready to start in the NFL if he gets the nod over Sanchez.

Is This Finally It for Mark Sanchez in New York?

mark-sanchezWhen the New York Jets selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, they thought he’d be their quarterback of the future. And after leading the Jets to AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons, it seemed as though Sanchez might live up to the hype.

But here we are in the present, and New York has now missed the playoffs for two straight seasons. Last year was particularly bad after the Jets limped to a 6-10 record and lost 7 out of their last 11 games. Sanchez certainly wasn’t a bright spot in this season either as he had his worst year since being a rooke; the USC product threw for 2,883 yards, 13 TD’s, 18 INT’s and fumbled 14 times.

Perhaps most telling of Sanchez’s performance was when he got benched in favor of seventh round draft pick Greg McElroy late in the year. But 2013 will bring a fresh season and a new opportunity for Sanchez to prove he’s worthy of that fifth round selection from four years ago. So are the prospects good for the five-year veteran returning to his 2010 and 2011 form? Let’s take a look at what’s going on with him lately.

Poor Practice

mark-sanchez-1If Mark Sanchez was on a road to redemption, he took a U-turn right out of the gate. During the Jets’ recent organized team activity, Sanchez tossed three interceptions in just 15 snaps. His overall day wasn’t bad since he completed 6 of 11 passes; however, the three interceptions is impossible for head coach Rex Ryan to overlook.

“It’s a good thing defense makes the plays, but no, I’d rather him not turn the ball over once,” Ryan told USA Today. “It’s funny, because you look at the practice and he did a lot of great things and then those negative things. At the end of the day, that’s what gets you beat. And so we’ve got to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers.”

Ryan continued by saying, “That’s going to be the pressure that we’re putting on him. It’s not that you try to cover up the fact you had some bad plays – no, no, no you flat tell him. We can’t have these and all that type of stuff. He knows.”

Losing the Team

geno-smithDuring Sanchez’s previous struggles, he could always count on the support of his teammates. This was evident when media members and fans suggested that he be benched in favor of Tim Tebow last year – a point which had many Jets players rushing to defend Sanchez.

However, coming out of the recent three-interception OTA performance, the mood seems to have changed. CBS Sports writer Mike Freeman actually talked to an anonymous Jets player who claimed “80-90 percent of the team” thought Sanchez should be benched.

“Everyone on the team likes Mark personally but there’s a general feeling among some of the players that maybe it’s time to give someone else a chance,” said the anonymous player.

Understudy or Successor?

Once a lock to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2013 NFL Draft, Geno Smith was the second QB taken and fell to the Jets at pick number 39. And while being an early second round pick is pretty good, it doesn’t guarantee you anything in your rookie season.

However, with the way Sanchez has performed, Smith will at least get a crack at the starting QB role. The Jets organization was impressed with his rookie minicamp performance and truly believes in his talent. That said, a strong preseason could thrust the West Virginia alumni into the first string.

On the other hand, New York is believed to be in a rebuilding year and putting Smith out there right away could be counterproductive to the future. Most believe that the Jets have no real chance of making the playoffs, so they’ll merely try to restock talent and ween rookies into the mix.

So taking all of this into account, Mark Sanchez may get one more year to be the starter in New York. However, Smith and/or McElroy will taking some snaps if things get too ugly.