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The question for the New York Jets should not be: Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow? Instead, it should be: How about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow? With two of their most talented players, in Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, gone for the year, it's all hands on deck time for the Jets. While the New York Giants have injuries of their own, thinning their depth, what they need is not major changes or alterations, but just more discipline.
The Jets could be skidding toward a lost 4-12 season, with the way they've played so far along with the devastating injuries the team has suffered. Sanchez has been awful, but the players around him have performed just as poorly, so all the blame can't be put in his lap. When a team has trouble with the basics, such as blocking and tackling, they're not going to win a lot of games. And they're not exactly stacked talent-wise to overcome shoddy play (unless the opponent is the Miami Dolphins, in Week 3). What Tony Sparano and the Jets need to do is pull a rabbit out of their hat, meaning: start using Tebow as an actual part of the offense and not just as a decoy, or tossing passes off his helmet. What do they have to lose, after all? The more gadgets, the more trickery, the better. Will Tebow playing 12-20 snaps a game throw Sanchez off his rhythm? So what? If Sanchez has been playing in rhythm then maybe this is what he needs as a wake-up call. Gang Green needs to pull out all the stops to compensate for their injuries and lack of running game. Why even sign Tebow if you don't let him do what he does best? Sure, his plays may not result in 20-yard gains every time, but there's always a chance for a big play. Mix it up, let him throw some passes, let him run, let him improvise. If not now? When?
Now is also the time for Jet players to step up and seize the new opportunity that has come their way. Whether it's Kyle Wilson, Chaz Schilens, Jeff Cumberland or Bilal Powell, they need to maximize the chance that's been handed them. All they have to do is take a look around the New York sports landscape, which is littered with once-thought-of-as-marginal players seizing their golden opportunity: Victor Cruz, R.A. Dickey and most recently Andre Brown and Ramses Barden, not to mention Rafael Soriano succeeding in his role as closer (so far). If the Jets have any chance of salvaging their season, players need to come out of nowhere and produce at a rate no one could have seen coming.
The Giants, on other hand, don't need trickery. The few times they do attempt something out of the ordinary -- a little shovel pass to David Wilson or even an innocuous end around -- it usually backfires. The key to the Giants' success can be summed up in one word: discipline. Their secondary has had breakdowns when a defensive back freelances or just flat-out goes to the wrong spot on the field, leaving a receiver wide open. In the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, LeSean McCoy wreaked havoc in the second half, when defenders left their lanes and chased him around, leaving wide patches of the field open for McCoy. He exploited their aggressiveness and lack of patience. As Chase Blackburn said, "If you ever watched little league soccer, where the ball goes and everyone runs, that's kind of how it was at times where everyone was chasing the ball."
The coaches got into the act, as well, during the final sequence of Sunday night's loss, when they should have taken a more conservative approach while setting up the last field goal attempt (of course that's easy to say in hindsight -- who could have predicted an offensive pass interference call?). And Eli Manning gave the Eagles momentum with his end zone interception, not to mention the last wayward pass to Barden. It's easy to trust Manning and put the ball and the game in his hands, but trying to do too much when it's not necessary can be avoided. All of those bugaboos can easily be corrected with that one word again: discipline. They each need to trust their teammates that they'll be where they're supposed to be.
The Jets' and Giants' identical 2-2 records seem worlds apart. One is a sinking-fast, the-world-is-coming-to-an-end 2-2, while the other is a stay-the-course, keep-doing-what-we're-doing-with-a-little-more-discipline 2-2. There are answers for each team, but what's good for one is not good for the other.