Breaking: Mark Sanchez is still a better quarterback than Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow and a Jets logo. (nfl.com)
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A weekly column about what the Jets are doing when they're not playing football.

Mark Sanchez played better than Tim Tebow in practice on Thursday. Because it’s the offseason and because it’s the N.F.L. and because it’s Tebow, this is pretty much the only thing anyone covering the Jets can talk about.

Of course, the fact that Sanchez outplayed Tebow shouldn’t be surprising at all: Sanchez is close to an average quarterback, while Tebow just posted the worst completion percentage of any N.F.L. quarterback in eleven years. The difference between Tebow’s and Sanchez’s completion percentage is roughly the same as the difference between that of Sanchez and Tom Brady, and a report of Tom Brady outperforming Sanchez in any context wouldn’t exactly be newsworthy.

Still, there was lots to overanalyze: Apparently, after Tebow’s second interception of the day, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano yelled at him. A calculated attempt to cut Tebow down to size? Perhaps. More likely, it was an example of how football coaches have been relating to players since the beginning of time.

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And that’s the point here: To the coaches, who are locked into the task of getting the team ready for the season, Tebow’s Tebowness is already irrelevant. Sparano has an urgent and difficult job to do, and Tebow’s just another guy on the team. It might seem like the Jets have a lot invested in him, but really, their investment amounts to Philip Blake. Have you heard of Philip Blake? Neither had I, until I discovered that he was the 108th pick in this year’s draft, which the Jets sent to Denver to acquire Tebow.

There will be more practices in the months ahead, and more good and bad days for Sanchez and Tebow. Other storylines will crop up. Then the games will start, and it will become clear that the Jets were not lying when they said that Tebow will be a jack-of-all-trades complementary offensive piece and not a threat to Sanchez’s job.

CONNOR ORR OF THE STAR-LEDGER CUTS TO THE HEART cuts to the heart of the matter in his piece yesterday on Bart Scott’s dissatisfaction with his diminished playing time last year:

“It’s cool, it was just something Rex and I needed to be on the same page about,” Scott said.

“Hopefully I can be back to what I’ve always done, which never included leaving the field a lot, he said. “So hopefully I’ll get more opportunities.”

He wouldn’t say whether or not his terms were agreed on.

Scott was removed during likely passing situations last year, and played sparingly against pass-heavy teams like New England. Overall, he was on the field just 64 percent of the time last year, compared to 84 percent in 2010 and 94 percent in 2009, according to Pro Football Focus stats.

If the Jets thought Scott was vulnerable against the pass last year as a 31-year-old, that’s unlikely to change in his age 32 season. On the other hand, Scott said he dropped 10 to 15 pounds in the hopes of not being removed in passing situations, so perhaps he’ll have a chance to compete for more playing time in training camp.

It’s anybody’s guess how much of a priority it is for the Jets to placate Scott. Either way, this year will likely be his last with the team, at least under his current contract: If the Jets cut him before the 2013 season, they will save themselves $7 million off the salary cap.

SAM MONSON OF PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS SHINES some light on Aaron Maybin as part of the site’s “Secret Superstar” series.

This—and probably more meaningfully to him, the $1.26 contract he recently signed—represents a nice accomplishment for a player whose busthood had reached comic proportions. Maybin was the eleventh overall pick by the Bills back in 2009, was still stuck on the bench after two years in the league. Deadspin, in their countdown of the 100 worst players in N.F.L. history, put Mabyin at 44. Their rationale, adopted from Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan, was as follows: The Bills had the worst defense in the league at the time, and Maybin wasn’t good enough to play for them. 

Making things worse was that Maybin was the first pass rusher selected in a draft that also included Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews, both of whom went on to make multiple Pro Bowls.

But Maybin was a valuable contributor for the Jets last year, leading the team with six sacks and ranking 10th in sack percentage out of the 48 outside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme who were on the field for at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps. As Monson pointed out, he also forced five fumbles, making good on his nickname of “Mayhem.”

Monson has a good way to look at Maybin: What if we give him a mulligan for his first two seasons, and view Maybin’s 2011 as an impressive rookie campaign? The guy just turned 24 years old. The future is bright.

AFTER PLEADING DOWN A FELONY MALICIOUS wounding charge to a misdemeanor assault and battery, Kenrick Ellis will go to jail for 45 days. Ellis grew up in Jamaica and is not a U.S. citizen, so the plea deal spares him the possibility of deportation.

Interestingly, Ellis entered what’s known as an “Alford” plea, which basically means that you aren’t admitting guilt, but rather acknowledging that the prosecution can prove its case against you. I’m only speculating here, but my guess would be that the Alford Plea buffers Ellis against the possibility of disciplinary action by the N.F.L. because it gives him deniability.

Ellis will miss only three days of training camp because of the sentence. If he can stay in reasonable shape in prison—not a given for someone who's 330 pounds—he should be ready to go for the season.

THE JETS REPORTEDLY HAVE SOME INTEREST in free-agent linebacker Rocky McIntosh, 29, who has spent his entire six-year career with the Washington Redskins. McIntosh’s production has never matched his name recognition, which is burnished by the fact that he was a well-known player at the University of Miami and that has name is “Rocky McIntosh.”

Pro Football Focus stats consistently grade him as well below average. Last year, when he ranked 45th out of 50 inside linebackers who got 25 percent of their team’s snaps or more, was no exception.

Poor play, apparently combined with poor work habits, resulted in McIntosh’s banishment into Mike Shanahan doghouse last year. He was benched by year’s end, and the slim possibility that he would ever again play for Shanahan was extinguished when he blew off curfew before the season’s final game and attempted to deceive the coaches by stuffing his bed with pillows and blankets.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, McIntosh did not set up a voice recording that said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t come to the door right now. I’m afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences.”

STEPHEN HILL LINED UP WITH THE FIRST unit during practice yesterday, lending truth to Rex Ryan’s post-draft proclamation that both Hill and Quinton Coples will be starters upon arrival.

The fact that the Jets are so eager to get Hill on the field is a statement of how limited they saw themselves offensively last year without any viable deep threats. Hill ran a blazing 4.31 at the combine last year. If Plaxico Burress, running on sluggish post-prison legs, were to have been clocked last season, he probably would have been at around a 4.7.