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Shutdown Corner

Joe Montana: Sanchez is better than Tebow, ‘and that’s it’

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Joe Montana and Steve Young in 1997, putting their own QB controversy behind them. (AP)

Joe Montana knows all about quarterback controversies. After he helped the San Francisco 49ers win four Super Bowls from 1981 to 1989, he was replaced over time by Steve Young and eventually traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. The 49ers won their fifth Super Bowl with Young at the helm the next season, and the it could be argued that the 49ers had the best right-handed and best left-handed quarterbacks in NFL history on their roster at the same time. Not bad, really.

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The stakes in the New York Jets' current quarterback controversy are a bit lower at this point -- Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are two players looking to meet (never mind exceed) the expectations set for them as first-round draft picks. Both quarterbacks are still finding their feet in the NFL, and the Jets' recent trade for Tebow could very well complicate Sanchez's development process -- unless the Jets are counting on Tebow as the contingency in case the Sanchez upswing never takes place.

[Michael Silver: Tim Tebow trade could work out well for Mark Sanchez, Jets]

Tebow Time with the Jets will become official at Monday's press conference, but Montana has already laid down his verdict on the decision to have the two passers in the same rotation.

"Mark is a better player right now and that's it," Montana wrote in an email to the New York Daily News. "As long as Mark believes in himself and plays, it's not an issue. It's more of an issue for those of you who write, or blog or tweet and all the other methods of delivering content."

Um, OK. Not sure how it's an issue for those providing content, but whatever. It is a very serious issue for the Jets, who reportedly plan to have Sanchez as their starter, and Tebow as a Wildcat/option quarterback who could see action in up to 20 plays per game. It's also an issue for a fanbase that may wind up wanting Tebow as the full-on starter no matter what. After all, there are people in Denver disappointed that Tebow isn't there anymore, and John Elway got Peyton Manning to replace him -- last time I checked, Sanchez isn't anywhere near Peyton Manning's approximate universe as a quarterback.

[Related: Joe Namath blasts New York Jets for Tim Tebow trade]

Montana does raise an interesting point about Sanchez believing in himself, though. As much as this seems like an ill-fitting exercise to steal the back pages from the Giants (who grabbed them in the first place by, you know, winning Super Bowls), this is a test of Sanchez's mettle and ability to deal with distractions. If the Tebow circus causes Sanchez to shrink from his ultimate potential, the Jets will be that much closer to knowing who their long-term quarterback isn't.

As a traditional quarterback, Sanchez is better than Tebow -- Montana's right about that. But Tebow has shown an ability to drive intangibles home with rare consistency, and this is anything but a typical situation. It's now Sanchez's turn to live up to Montana's praise.

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