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Mixed Messages About the Jets Offense

Sunday's loss exposed a lack of direction from the Jets offense

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Are the Jets pointing forward on offense?

    As befits a coach known for his defensive scheming, Rex Ryan got defensive during his Monday press conference.

    He got defensive about the play of his defense, which wasn't able to get off the field on third downs late in the loss to Pittsburgh, and he got defensive about the offense as well. The impetus for his defensive stance was a question about the team's decision to use Tim Tebow on just three offensive snaps. 

    "We’ve always said from Day 1 that we can do it 20 times, 40 times, 10 times, two times, whatever, but we determine that, OK?” Ryan said in comments distributed by the team. “It’s not just going to be that these specific things have to be lined up. It’s just that that’s exactly what happened in this game. Does that mean that given the exact same scenario against a different opponent that we may or may not use it? That’ll be up to us. We’ll always do what we think is in the best interest of our football team."

    The strange part of the Tebow usage on Sunday was that it actually worked. Tebow gained 22 yards on a run on his first play and then Joe McKnight picked up 12 more on the next snap before a six-yard loss on another run and the return of Mark Sanchez. 

    At that point in the game, it was clear that the Jets' starting offense had hit a wall and turning to Tebow made sense as a way to see if something else might work to get the ball moving down the field once again. Why not give it a bit more of a chance before going back to an approach that you already knew wasn't really working all that well?

    The Jets would say that it is because they believe in Sanchez and think he gives them a better chance to win, but they don't actually coach that way. You need only look to the end of the first half for an example of that. 

    Down 13-10 after a Steelers touchdown, the Jets got the ball back with two timeouts and 57 seconds to play. They chose to take a knee and head into the locker room, a decision that doesn't do much to support the notion that they really have deep faith in Sanchez's ability to lead a successful offense. 

    There are plenty of things that can go wrong in situations like that, but teams that believe that their quarterback is a capable player focus on the things that can go right. If the Jets don't have that level of faith in Sanchez, then it makes no sense not to try Tebow when you fell even further behind in the third quarter. 

    The switch to Tony Sparano at offensive coordinator is obviously going to take some transition time and there's no reason to throw in the towel on anything after one bad game. At some point, though, the Jets are going to actually have to decide what kind of offense they want to be instead of straddling the fence between two things that they clearly don't embrace with all of their heart. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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