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It's Finally Game Time for Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow

Jets kick off preseason slate against Bengals with all eyes on Tebow

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The red jerseys are coming off for Sanchez and Tebow.

    Under normal conditions, the majority of people watching the first preseason game of the NFL season turn it off as soon as the starters have been removed from the game.

    As you're surely aware by now, the Jets don't fit into anyone's idea of normalcy. So it figures that their preseason opener would be a game that people start watching when the starters leave the field.

    That's when Tim Tebow will take over at quarterback, where he's slated to play two quarters against the Bengals in his Jets debut. After months of fevered analysis of his every throw, new position and shirtless running in the rain, we'll finally get a chance to see Tebow as an actual football player.

    While we wouldn't expect anything too exotic from the Jets offensively as they try to redefine their identity as a power running team, we don't know exactly what they will have Tebow do on the field. We do know that analysis of what goes on will blow everything way out of proportion.

    If Mark Sanchez plays well and Tebow struggles, it will be the end of a quarterback controversy that never really seemed to exist and it will start another round of criticism of the Jets trading for Tebow in the first place.

    If Tebow plays well and Sanchez struggles, the calls for Tebow to start will be deafening and none of them will reference Tebow playing against backups while Sanchez faces the first team without Santonio Holmes or Jeremy Kerley at receiver.

    If both men struggle, you'll hear people wondering if the Jets should just go ahead and forfeit the entire season. If both men play well ... Actually, no one has contemplated that outcome although we're sure Rex Ryan would get himself fitted for a Super Bowl ring in response.

    It should go without saying that making a grand judgment on a football team or a particular player by the first preseason game is about as wise as choosing your spouse based on how much you like their shoes. Even as we're saying that, though, we realize that it is the equivalent of urinating into the wind because you know how things are going to play out.

    At least overreacting to a game, albeit one that will be played mainly by guys heading for unemployment, is better than overreating to practice throws against air. It won't be the referendum that some will make it out to be when the game is done, but it is actual, honest-to-goodness football.

    Even with the less than savory side dish that is the coverage of Tebowmania, that's a good thing to have back in our lives.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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