The New York Jets have been the target for a lot of emotional story lines this offseason and in general a lot of journalism that has very little to do football. One popular topic of discussion has been whether or not backup quarterback Tim Tebow will start this year.
Tebow has a large cult following. His personal story and college career have earned him a lot of attention. However, calculating the probability that he will start this year is a simple task. Begin by calculating the probability that Mark Sanchez will suffer a major injury. Then write that number down.
Several reasons have flooded the media as to why Tebow will ultimately be the Jets' starting quarterback. However, as nice as some of the reasons may sound in the abstract, none of them mesh well with the actual evidence that is here in New York.
I will dispel some of the more popular myths surrounding Tim Tebow and the supposed magic he will bring in 2012.
Myth: Rex Ryan will be persuaded by rowdy fans
It has been argued often that Sanchez will suffer the fate of former Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton—that inspired fans will chant Tebow's name and cause head coach Rex Ryan to make a poor choice.
Another important point to realize is that Tebow fans and Jets fans are not the same thing. Many of Tebow's followers do not live in New York and do not care very much how well the Jets do as a team. Rex Ryan has no reason to care about the desires of Tebow's interstate fanbase.
Myth: Superstitions will motivate decision makers
Another myth surrounding Tim Tebow is the expectation that his incredible stretch of good luck in 2011 will follow him for the rest of his career. NFL fans will remember that crazy streak of events for years to come. However, assuming future luck based on past luck is an irrational tendency.
For example, if you get struck by lightning and as a result expect to be struck by lightning the next day, you are in for disappointment (or relief).
Nevertheless, it is unimportant to dispel beliefs in superstition. Keep your beliefs. The important point is that Rex Ryan does not share those beliefs. He has unequivocally and repeatedly stated that Tebow's purpose is as a Wildcat back, not as a starter.
Therefore, even if there is magic to be found in Tebow, Rex Ryan has zero plans to tap into it.
Myth: Mark Sanchez does not have the wholehearted support of the Jets
Rex Ryan—one of the more honest and forthright coaches in the NFL—has praised Sanchez and supported him since he was drafted in 2009. He has never given the slightest hint that he does not view Sanchez as his franchise quarterback. Rex Ryan reiterated his beliefs this offseason:
No quarterback controversy here. Mark is our quarterback, he’s our starting quarterback. Obviously, Tebow can run the Wildcat... Mark is our starting quarterback, and he looks tremendous back there.
The one man who will make the decision has already made it. Ryan wholeheartedly supports Mark Sanchez. This guarantees Sanchez the starting role for all of the 2012 season.
On a related note, fans should not be too unnerved by Ryan's bold claims. Sanchez has improved in every major statistical category in each of his first three years in the NFL. There is no reason to think he will not continue this trend for a fourth year.
Myth: Personal problems will impact Sanchez's efficiency with Santonio Holmes
One last popular myth is that Tebow will be the mature presence in the Jets locker room and earn their love and respect. He will be liked so much—and thus Sanchez will be so disliked—that a locker room rebellion will force Tebow into the starter role. While that is a ludicrous belief in general, the most concrete fallacy behind it is that Sanchez and star wide receiver Santonio Holmes cannot play together.
Holmes and Sanchez may not be best friends down the road after retirement. However, they will get along well enough to play football together. Said Holmes:
We have trust. We know what we have. We're football players. And we're going to allow ourselves to play football. And I think it's going to work from that point on.
If Sanchez is looking to feed a rift between him and Holmes, he certainly did not show it in the last preseason game against the Panthers. He fired several passes Holmes's way, even after Holmes dropped an easy reception.
What does this all mean?
It means that you can believe whatever you want about Tim Tebow. You can hope he will play. You can even think he will be a Super Bowl MVP some day. All that matters right now is that he will not have the opportunity to start for the Jets in 2012.