Sunday, December 2, 2012
Sunday notes: Ribbing Rex
By Rich Cimini
A look at the Jets and around the NFL:
1. Ribgate update: Tim Tebow is medically cleared to play against the Cards, according to sources, but he will be inactive Sunday because it's a coach's decision. It's the same coach who suited him up last week with broken ribs. What gives? Here's what I think: I think Rex Ryan realizes he made a hasty decision last week, activating Tebow for the Patriots game (he didn't play), and he doesn't want to make the same mistake twice. It was an abbreviated week because they played on Thanksgiving. This week, with a bigger window, he had more time to evaluate Tebow and more time to realize it was silly to dress him the previous week. Give Ryan credit for realizing two wrongs don't make a right.
2. Milking it: On Friday, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Tebow is out (I can confirm that) -- but there's still no official announcement from the Jets. Hmm, I wonder if the fact that they're playing at home (read: tickets) has anything to do with the stall.
3. Is three a crowd? Ryan said it's highly unusual to dress three quarterbacks for a game. In fact, it has occurred four times this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Eagles did it in two games, including their Sept. 30 win over the Giants. The 49ers did it once, as did the Jaguars.
4. Tebow's audition: In theory, Tebow should be ready to play next week in Jacksonville. Isn't that convenient? Tebow is a University of Florida icon who grew up in Jacksonville, and we know the Jaguars were the only other team interested in trading for him during the offseason. So this is more than a homecoming; it's a potential audition. He's under contract through 2014, but it's hard to imagine him returning to the Jets.
Why would Tebow want to come back? They hardly play him when he's healthy. The best outcome for both sides is to part ways. If he makes a couple of plays next week, it might be enough to entice his hometown team to rescue him from a bad Jets situation -- not that the Jaguars (2-9) are paradise.
5. Big draw in Jax: Tebow already has been good for business. The Jaguars announced this week that they have created extra room in the stadium to accommodate all the Tebow-maniacs. The tarp that covers Section 404 in EverBank Field will be removed for the game, and those tickets will sell for $35 apiece. Suffice it to say, the Jaguars have to be mighty pleased Tebow isn't playing this week. The favorite son will return home with his ribs intact.
6. Walking on eggshells: There's an uneasy feeling at One Jets Drive. People are worried about their jobs, knowing owner Woody Johnson is likely to make changes no matter what happens down the stretch. The tension started to build two weeks ago, about the time Johnson held a summit with Ryan, GM Mike Tannenbaum and the coordinators. One source said it's "understood" that it's win or else.
You can read the tea leaves. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo's hostile news conference, which ticked off people in the organization, smacked of a coach who senses his days are numbered. In 15 minutes of infamy, he threw left guard Vladimir Ducasse under the bus and suggested the front office is pulling the strings on the platoon between Ducasse and Matt Slauson. I agree with DeGuglielmo about one thing: The offensive line isn't performing as poorly as some people think. The line is responsible for only 12 of the 27 sacks allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com. LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Slauson have yet to allow a sack, per PFF.
7. Analyzing the Slaucasse situation: Who could've imagined that, in Week 13, the biggest controversy would be at left guard, not quarterback? Ryan insisted that the left guard platoon is his idea and that he believes in using his entire roster, but he punched a hole in his argument by admitting Slauson is a better player than Ducasse. He said Slauson has graded out higher than Ducasse. Why would a team weaken its line by inserting a backup every third series? Ducasse has played 182 snaps (25 percent of the team's total), which means the O-line has worked at less-than-peak efficiency 25 percent of the time.
It's OK to rotate running backs, receivers and defensive linemen, but those are often specialists who play in certain down-and-distance situations. It's different on the O-line, where continuity is important. This has Tannenbaum's fingerprints on it. He's trying to justify the second-round pick he used to take Ducasse. A year ago, Tannenbaum told me he still thought Ducasse was destined to be a "great" player.
8. Unthinkable tragedy: There's no way to make any sense of the Jovan Belcher situation. By all accounts, he was a model citizen, a classic overachiever who made the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Maine. It's unfortunate the NFL is allowing the Chiefs and Panthers to play. The Chiefs organization is in a state of shock. The suicide happened on their own grounds roughly 29 hours before kickoff. It's too soon to play football. Condolences to the Chiefs and the families involved.
9. Head games: The Alex Smith situation in San Francisco is a setback in the war against concussions. Smith went out with a concussion and ended up losing his job to Colin Kaepernick. This is more fodder for those reluctant to report head injuries out of fear of losing their job.
10. Head-coaching games: Ravens coach John Harbaugh deserves coach of the year consideration. Despite critical injuries, the Ravens (9-2) are on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. He'd be the first coach since the Steelers' Bill Cowher (1992-1997) to reach the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.