When times are bad, you can’t control what you’re thinking. Regardless of whether it’s because of a football game, a bad first date, or because you were the kid that got pantsed on that particular day in middle school, the mental response that follows always occurs in three phases:
1) the Reactionary phase, which often involves crying, punching a wall, and/or taking it out on your little brother
2) the Crazy Idea phase, which often involves thoughts of extremely elaborate pranks against the bully that caused your mental state, musings of your newfound, cold-blooded courage, and/or yearnings to run away from home to become a hobbit.
3) the Melancholy phase, which often involves solitude, music, and mild anorexia or binge eating.
The most important thing about these phases? Most of the time, they’re uncontrollable. Sometimes you can’t help but cry. Sometimes you can’t help but yearn for a different life, even if it means you’d become a part of a diminutive humanoid race that lives in the Shire.
But it’s impossible to transform people into Hobbits. Hopefully, one day science will give us that tool, but until then, we’re stuck as people, dreaming our crazy dreams and thinking our crazy thoughts. With that as a lead-in, let me introduce a not-so-crazy thought. Has God smited the Jaguars?
No, this is not a racist plug about having a Muslim owner. Grow up guys. This is bigger than that. And this is bigger than the Jaguars.
This is about Tim Tebow – a Denver Bronco franchise record holder for QB rating in a playoff game (yes, over John Elway). This offseason, only two teams angled to get Tim Tebow. One, our Jaguars, didn’t give up enough to get him outright, and was supposedly passed over in favor of the second team, the Jets, who got him but haven’t given him the opportunity to take over the quarterback position. And both teams are feeling the effects.
Looking back to the days leading up to the Tebow trade, it’s no surprise why these two teams were the ones angling for Tebow. They were perfect for him, in a football sense. They both have traditionally had grind-it-out offenses that relied heavily on the running game, field position, and mistake-limiting football. Their teams have traditionally been built around strong defenses that can limit opponents’ points and allow their offense to play the style mentioned, and both teams’ defenses were top 6 in yards allowed and advanced defensive metrics. In short, both teams had the traditional style and defense necessary to allow Tebow to succeed. A few months later, perhaps we should wonder why the biggest failures of these two teams have presented themselves in these areas.
Let’s start with the defense, a necessary piece for a still-developing Tim Tebow. The top 6 defenses of the Jets and Jaguars have tumbled to numbers 21 and 26 in yards allowed, and 19 and 23 in advanced defensive metrics. That’s quite the fall from grace. Moreover, the top-flight pass rushers that were drafted to bolster these defenses, Quinton Coples (1st round) and Andre Branch (2nd round) have combined for 0 sacks in 4 games after combining for 6 sacks during limited pre-season work. Lastly, these defenses have been hit by freak injuries to their best players – Darrelle Revis’s non-contact ACL tear and Daryl Smith’s mysterious, lingering groin injury. These players are integral to these defenses and without them, these defenses are not the same. They are no longer defenses that could have upheld a Tim Tebow at quarterback.
Let’s take a look at the offenses then. You don’t have to be a Jaguars or a Jets fan to know realize that both teams’ offenses have looked terrible. But how bad are they? Both teams are bottom 5 in defense-adjusted offensive efficiency. Both teams are bottom 5 in completion %, yards, yards/game, and yards/attempt. Both teams have unenviable positions in advanced metric QB statistics DYAR (“quarterback value”), DVOA (“quarterback value/play”), and QBR (“expected points added by the quarterback on each play”). Both have quarterbacks whose play thus far has been borderline embarrassing. Both teams have been outscored by about 30 points on the season by their opponents. Both have been teased by the rookie WRs they drafted – Justin Blackmon, whose pre-season play hinted at a go-to receiver for Blaine Gabbert, and Stephen Hill, whose week 1 made Jets fans think of another ex-Georgia Tech receiver (Madden 2013 Cover Model, Calvin Johnson). Both teams have been hit by freak injuries to their number one receivers – the repeated Laurent Robinson concussions and the Lisfranc injury suffered by Santonio Holmes.
Now, you’ve been forewarned – when I was having thoughts about God smiting the Jaguars, I was in the second phase (Crazy Idea phase) of the mental response that follows a terrible Jaguars loss. But as I continued to think about it, what are the odds? What are the odds that the two teams that didn’t take advantage of their opportunity to have Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback are struggling this much? What are the odds that their top-flight defenses, which only should’ve been bolstered by the additions of young, promising pass rushers have struggled so much? What are the odds that the first and second round rookies of both teams (Blackmon, Coples, Branch, and Hill) that looked so promising early on have made almost no impact four games into the season? And what are the odds that the best receiver and defensive player for both teams have been hit with lingering, freak injuries?
You tell me — What are the odds?
– Zain Gowani