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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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5 takeaways from the neutral arbitrator’s ruling on Tom Wilson

5 takeaways from the neutral arbitrator’s ruling on Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson finally made his season debut on Tuesday after his 20-game suspension was reduced to 14 games. The suspension was reduced by neutral arbitrator Shyam Das, who issued his decision Tuesday in a 42-page ruling.

Wilson was originally suspended for a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.

Just as Bettman did in the first appeal, Das sheds light on several fascinating aspects of the process and various arguments used. Here are my five biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s ruling.

Think Sundqvist hit shows that Wilson is a dirty player? No one else seems to

Wilson has developed a bit of a reputation among some fans for being a dirty player and many have used this incident as evidence of that. Behind closed doors, however, it seems like everyone is in agreement that Wilson was making a hockey play and just missed.

Das wrote, “The NHLPA stresses that Wilson had no intent to injure or target Sundqvist's head, as [head of the Department of Player Safety George Parros] acknowledged. It is agreed that he was making a hockey play. His hit, even assuming it was a violation of Rule 48 -- which the NHLPA disputes -- was off ‘by inches,’ as recognized by the DPS.”

It used to be fairly common for a player who cut across the middle in the offensive zone to get blown up by the opposition. It’s not that way anymore, but there’s nobody seems to question that Wilson was simply back checking and going after the puck carrier and not simply head-hunting.

Careful what you put in an email

In a footnote, Das detailed how the NHLPA tried to argue both Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly attempted to influence the DPS’s decision of whether or not to suspend Wilson.

The NHLPA cites an email Daly sent to Parros at 5:05 p.m. on September 30, 2018 stating: "Looks like a big one. The Emergency Assistance Fund [which receives forfeited salary of penalized players] is going to be happy." Immediately prior to sending this email, Daly had been copied on five emails sent to Parros by other DPS personnel all stating that in their opinion Wilson had violated Rule 48. The NHLPA also cites Parros' testimony that the day before the DPS hearing on this incident he was at an unrelated meeting at which the Commissioner said something to the effect: "You're going to do the right thing or Do the right thing.

Conspiracy theorists are going to run away with this as proof that the NHL is somehow out to get the Caps, but I think it is important to note that the neutral arbitrator—the key word being neutral—did not buy the NHLPA’s argument. Das wrote, “The evidence as a whole, including Parros’ testimony, does not establish that the DPS was improperly influenced by the cited comments of League officials.”

Patrick Kaleta mattered a lota

Who is Patrick Kaleta? Kaleta is former player with an extensive history of supplementary discipline. His name appears 34 times in Das’ ruling so you know he must be important.

The NHLPA argued Kaleta was the “most appropriate comparison” to Wilson because he was suspended three times and fined once over the course of 94 games and with less total ice time. Despite his extensive history, the DPS issued a suspension of only 10 games in 2013 for a hit he delivered to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. That 10-game suspension was reached by doubling his prior suspension of five games.

The DPS made a point of saying that because Wilson was facing discipline for the fourth time in 105 games, his history was “unprecedented.” The reason why the DPS felt that way was because it drew a distinction Wilson was suspended all four times whereas Kaleta was fined once in his four violations during the comparable period and it was not taking the fine into account. Once you add that in, it is easy to see the argument as to why the length of Wilson’s suspension seems extreme in comparison.

How the suspension went from 20 to 14

How the DPS reached 20 games for the suspension was detailed in Bettman’s ruling, but here’s a quick refresher. Parros took Wilson’s last suspension of three games and doubled it to account for the weight of a playoff game (6), tripled that number because Wilson is a repeat offender (18) and added two more games because the hit caused an injury (20).

The sticking point for Das was tripling the last suspension which Das said there was no precedent of the league doing in the past.

“I conclude that Wilson's suspension should be reduced to 14 games,” Das wrote. “I have arrived at this length by treating his most recent prior 3 playoff game suspension as the equivalent of 6 regular season games, as Parros did, doubling that based on all relevant circumstances to 12 games -- which certainly constitutes more severe punishment consistent with the CBA -- and adding 2 games, as Parros did, based on the injury to Sundqvist.”

The change was that instead of multiplying the past suspension by three, Das though it appropriate to double it instead just as the league did with Kaleta.

This wasn’t a win for Wilson

Getting Wilson back was good news for the Caps and it saves him $378,048.78 that he would have otherwise had to forfeit, but let’s be clear, this was not a win for Wilson.

A 14-game suspension is still a significant suspension and it would have felt massive had the league originally given him 14 games on Oct. 3. It just doesn’t seem that way now because the original suspension was for 20 games.

The neutral arbitrator ruled that Wilson’s hit was illegal and worthy of a significant suspension. The only issue was basically that he didn’t like the NHL’s math. Das’ ruling should in no way be considered vindication for Wilson. Everything that has been said about Wilson in the wake of the suspension remains true. He still has to change the way he plays because the next suspension will be greater. Even if the NHL is beholden to the double modifier Das determined to reach 14 games, the best case scenario for the next suspension will be 24 to 28 games depending on if the DPS takes into account the extra two games tacked on for injury or not. That’s the best case scenario. Neither he nor the team can afford that.

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Bench support

Starters Wall, Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but it was the Wizards’ second unit playing above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels. That Green and Rivers, in particular, have provided steady help has contributed to Porter sitting out the fourth quarter in three consecutive games.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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