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Column: Playing Tebow not the right move for Jets

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Column: Playing Tebow not the right move for Jets

At least Jets fans now have a number to help get them through the rest of the season.

Two percent is the figure offered by Rex Ryan on the team's playoff chances, though that seems a bit optimistic. The team is such a mess that even the thought of putting Tim Tebow in to run its abysmal offense isn't enough to excite New York fans.

Not that Tebow is going to get a chance. Not with Ryan lined up squarely behind center with Mark Sanchez, who on Sunday somehow managed to throw one less touchdown pass than Seattle receiver Golden Tate.

If 2 percent is the chance of making the playoffs, the chances of Tebow getting meaningful playing time seems even less after Ryan rose to the defense of Sanchez after a beatdown by a Seahawks team that the Jets had two full weeks to prepare for.

``Well, that's what I believe. I believe it to be true,'' Ryan said Sunday. ``Why do I believe it? Because I believe it. I don't care about anybody else. I believe it. In my heart I believe it. I don't know how many years it's been I've been coaching football, and I put my trust in him.''

Say what you will about Ryan and his 3-6 team - and right now a lot of Jets fans are saying some very nasty things - he's right about the quarterback situation. Throwing Tebow into an offensive scheme not designed for him may perk some interest for a few games, but it's not a path to long-term success.

Tebow was never a good fit for the Jets, no matter how Ryan and the team's brain trust tried to spin it when they took him off of Denver's hands. Unfortunately, it's becoming pretty clear he's not a good fit anywhere around the NFL, where running quarterbacks with ungainly throwing motions are not a prized commodity.

Even guys on the other side seem to agree. Consider this response from Seattle receiver Sidney Rice after Tate threw him a touchdown pass on a trick play in Seattle's 28-7 rout.

``His throwing motion was the worst,'' Rice said. ``I thought we traded for Tebow for a second.''

Why the Jets traded for Tebow is a decision that's always been suspect at best. The way general manager Mike Tannenbaum tells it, he and Ryan were sipping on Ben & Jerry's vanilla milkshakes in an airport when it became clear the Broncos - who had just signed Peyton Manning - had no desire to keep Tebow around any longer.

Maybe they should have been drinking something a bit stronger. Bringing Tebow to the Big Apple to back up Sanchez made no sense, other than to take some of the spotlight away from the team they share the same stadium with - a team that attracts attention by winning Super Bowls, not just promising them.

Ryan didn't promise one this year, even after the Jets signed Tebow and brought in a new offensive coordinator who was supposed to reduce the size of the playbook and make it easier for players to understand. Good thing, because season-ending injuries to cornerback Darrelle Revis and top receiver Santonio Holmes exposed the Jets as a team badly lacking in depth of talent.

Playing Tebow for more than a few plays here and there isn't going to change that. There are too many things wrong with the Jets, from a porous run defense to poor special teams play, that can't be solved by a quarterback change.

That doesn't mean Sanchez doesn't deserve his fair share of blame. He turns the ball over too much in the red zone, makes poor decisions at the line of scrimmage and has thrown almost as many interceptions as touchdowns. His passer rating is the lowest since his rookie season, and 30th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks.

It's his fourth season in the league, yet he's playing like it's his first. Yes, he may lack quality receivers, but he clearly hasn't mastered the learning curve of a successful quarterback in the NFL.

Ryan sticks with him because he really has no choice. The reason John Elway got rid of Tebow in Denver is that the Heisman Trophy winner from Florida simply doesn't have the passing skills to be a successful NFL quarterback.

And, of course, no one tells Rex Ryan what to do.

``With me, I will never waver,'' Ryan said Monday. ``I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.''

Ryan reportedly gave the team an impassioned speech after a game in which Sanchez completed only nine passes and threw an interception at the goal line. Undoubtedly, he called on them not to give up on a season that is all but over after an awful start.

Other than a Thanksgiving game against New England, the rest of the schedule is a soft one for the Jets, with games against the likes of Jacksonville, St. Louis and Arizona. Of the seven opponents left, only the Patriots have a winning record.

The temptation might be to do something dramatic to salvage the season. But surrendering to that temptation would be wrong.

Sure, it sounded like a great idea over milkshakes at the airport.

But Ryan seems to understand now what took Denver fans a whole season to figure out - that Tim Tebow is not a starting quarterback in the NFL.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org orhttp://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.