COMMENTARY | The NBA does it on a regular basis, and MLB uses it as a standard tactic. I've often wondered why the NHL doesn't do it with their goalies, especially on teams where netminders are as unpredictably bad as Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith have been at the Jets' QB position. Pulling the top guys to give them a breather or clear their heads has won championships for top NBA teams; that was never more evident than this spring in giving LeBron James some bench time during the Miami Heat's championship run. Baseball teams have no compunctions over yanking a pitcher the minute he starts veering off-course. Of course, the classic argument is that it throws off a team's rhythm and strategy by switching hockey goalies...or quarterbacks, for that matter. In considering the NY Jets' crisis situation, however, we question any concerns over rhythm and strategy when there is no evidence of it to begin with.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and teams like the Redskins and the Eagles have brought in 'runner' QBs (as opposed to scramblers) like RGIII and Michael Vick to considerable degrees of success. It even worked for the Broncos and Tim Tebow for those five-minute bursts of Warholian glory. So what would cause the Jets not to take a chance in breaking with tradition and pull a QB for making a lousy play? It might be a safe bet that either Smith or rookie Matt Simms might turn into a runner on third and long rather than spend the next few plays collecting splinters on the sidelines. Of course, moving the chains and putting points on the board is the objective here. A good college try may work for the NCAA, but for this kind of money...move over, dude, let the guy on the bench show you how it's done.
Despite the fact that Smith has moved into the top spot by default, Ryan will be stretching his neck further across the chopping block by betting the farm on this fellow. Simms does not offer a whole lot more immediate promise, though the glimmer is there. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, the son of NY Giants vet QB Phil Simms has the pedigree. He's also sown his wild oats in Louisville, El Camino and Tennessee, making him less likely to involve himself in any off-field shenanigans. Ryan's best bet is to give this kid as much a chance as the spotty Smith - the Jets' season and his own career depend on it. Yet, keeping either Smith or Simms in the hot spot in the middle of a losing effort makes no sense at all. When in doubt, Rex, why not throw 'em out?
Switching your QB in mid-quarter works both ways. Opposing coaches spend all week prepping defenses to face the designated QB before games. Not knowing who's in the pocket on the next play creates problems for middle linebackers and defensive coaches alike. Granted, the prima-donna Jets lineup will be grumbling in the New York Daily News (and all the way to the bank) over the inconvenience. Yet if Smith and Simms are able to control their immediate destiny by outdoing the other guy in staying on the field and winning the game, well...old Rex may not be collecting unemployment next season.
Most Jets fans will contend that it will take a lot more than baiting-and-switching on opposing teams to solve the QB conundrum and make the playoffs this year. Still, if it makes these two wannabes bring their A-game onto the field on every play, well...we'll get to see whether or not two heads are better than one.
John Reinhard Dizon watched Broadway Joe Namath lead the NY Jets to victory at Super Bowl III and has been covering the Jets for four decades. He is a published author, and his sports novel "Raiders" has been submitted for publication in 2014.
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