From Comcast SportsNetFLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Tim Tebow has mostly been a sideline spectator this season, helplessly watching the New York Jets' offense struggle.The energetic do-it-all backup quarterback has been reduced mainly to a bit player. Not exactly what he -- or everyone -- expected. But if Tebow is frustrated with his limited role so far, Rex Ryan doesn't sense it."I know how competitive he is," Ryan said Thursday. "When you look over at the sideline, him and a lot of guys want to change the situation. We want to win, everybody we have feels the same way."Specifically him being frustrated about his role or anything? I don't see that."Tebow has played in just 31 of the Jets' 257 offensive snaps after being acquired from Denver in March to back up starter Mark Sanchez and provide a spark to the offense."I mean yeah, you get frustrated, I think everyone in that locker room when you lose games you're a little frustrated, but I think that's natural," Tebow said. "Other than that, try and work hard and get better. We're 2-2, the season's not over yet."Many fans and media insist Tebow should play more on offense, starting Monday night against undefeated Houston, or else the season could start slipping away. Some have even called for Tebow to supplant Sanchez as the starter.That could make for an uncomfortable situation in the locker room, but Sanchez insists he's fine."I don't feel threatened to lose my job at all," Sanchez said, adding that it was no different when the team had other backups behind him. "It doesn't change. I'm really not worried."But Tebow has won in the NFL before, leading Denver to the playoffs last season after a terrific run during which he won seven of eight games in one stretch, including five fourth-quarter victories. So, naturally, the assumption is that Tebow is trying to be patient and just wait for what have so far been only occasional opportunities -- a few as a wildcat-style quarterback, a handful as a tight end or fullback and regularly as a punt protector on special teams.Ryan and his coaching staff huddled for two days to try to find solutions after the Jets were blown out 34-0 by the San Francisco 49ers. While he refused to give details about those discussions, it would make sense for Tebow to be a larger part of the offense. Ryan also was a bit unclear when asked if he's spoken to Tebow about increasing his role."I talk to players and things like that," Ryan said. "But nothing specific."Added Tebow: "No, I haven't talked to anybody or said anything."Ryan also dismissed the notion that perhaps the Jets have not lived up to what they promised Tebow when they traded for him in March."When you trade for a guy, you do talk to the player or whatever," Ryan said. "When that happens, you're trying to get a guy on your football team and things like that. Sometimes, the trade, the player doesn't have anything to do with it. ... Tim likes the competitiveness of this group. He's a competitive guy."The one thing Ryan made clear for what seemed to be the millionth time since Tebow came to town is that he is standing by Sanchez as his starting quarterback."Mark's been fairly successful here, and I've said this since Day 1: Give me the quarterback that wins because his job is so important to your team's success," Ryan said. "I think Mark is an excellent quarterback."The numbers haven't supported that so far this season, as Sanchez's dismal 69.6 quarterback rating ranks 30th in NFL, ahead of just rookies Ryan Tannehill of Miami and Brandon Weeden of Cleveland. He has completed just 49.2 percent of his passes, the lack of accuracy and consistency both big-time knocks on him since his rookie year in 2009.He has four road playoff wins, though, and played well in leading the Jets to the AFC championship game in consecutive seasons. Ryan believes that is the real Sanchez, not the one struggling to connect with receivers. Sanchez has also been playing without his favorite target, tight end Dustin Keller, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury for weeks. Top receiver Santonio Holmes is also gone for the season after seriously injuring his left foot against the 49ers."I just think it's everybody's job -- we want to see him do well," Ryan said. "The receivers have to get open and Sanchez, I think, is accurate enough to put the ball where he needs to. And if that means elevating our play, than I think we can do that. I think it's on everybody, though."But, it's Sanchez who is taking the brunt of the criticism -- and a lot of it, justifiably so. The fact that Tebow is waiting in the wings and everyone remembers what he was able to do last season in Denver has just increased the heat on what has become a bubbling quarterback controversy."You've got to have that thick skin because not everybody's going to write beautiful things about you," Ryan said. "If you have a poor game, it's going to be right there in front. ... I think it takes a special guy to be a quarterback in this market, and I think Mark has that."Sanchez agrees, of course, and this kind of scrutiny is nothing new for him."It's just another opportunity," he said. "Nobody expects it to work, nobody expects it to go right, nobody expects us to win. That's fine: I've been in situations like that before. I'm confident I can handle it, and there's only one way in my mind to go about it, and that's attack it, get after it, give it 100 percent and never want to look back and say I wish I would've done that."Ryan believes the Jets have the perfect quarterback situation, not a potentially explosive one in large part because of Tebow's athletic ability."He's not a guy that says, I'm not going to do this. I only want to do this,'" Ryan said. "If you said, I need you to line up and play defensive tackle,' Tim would say, No problem. Tell me where to line up. Let's go.'"He also believes in Tebow's abilities as a quarterback, convinced that he belongs in the NFL at that position, no matter what the many naysayers think."No question I think he's a good quarterback," Ryan said. "You can't bluff your way in this league and have the success that he's had. ... Mark is our starting quarterback. But what's intriguing about having Tim is that if something were to happen to Mark, you'd feel good that you have a quarterback that has proven that he can win in the National Football League."
BOSTON -- For the third straight season, the Bruins are showing all the ugly, telltale signs of a hockey club poised to take a nosedive out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The short-attention span Bruins returned in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden, and proceeded to blow three one-goal leads in the second period before totally collapsing in the final 20 minutes of the game. Three unanswered third goals later, the Bruins were understandably downtrodden and accountable for a performance that kicked up so many bad memories from the last couple of seasons.
“We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and we can’t point fingers. Everyone has to step up and if every guy is going to do their job, including myself, then the rest will follow, you know?” said David Krejci. “But we hadn’t done that [against Tampa Bay] at all. The last two games against Toronto and Ottawa, I thought we worked hard. But for whatever reason [against Tampa] – maybe we thought it was going to come easy – we just shot ourselves in the foot.
“Like I said, each player has to be better, including myself, and if we don’t look at ourselves in the mirror that’s what’s going to happen. We’ll be losing and we need to win games. We have a team, we all believe, we know we can play well. We know we can win hockey games. We have a great game plan, but [against Tampa] I guess we just thought it was going to come easy.”
Even worse there were clear signs of panic in Boston’s game as things unfolded in an unsightly manner on the Garden ice.
Clearly it wasn’t about talent on Thursday night, and instead it was about focus, concentration and paying attention to the fine details that can come back to haunt you late in the season. The Bruins scored three goals in the second period with David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara and Riley Nash each lighting the lamp, but it took 44 seconds, 24 seconds and 1 minute, 35 seconds respectively in the second period for the Bolts to things up.
That’s the kind of instant buckling and crumbling under pressure we’ve seen in the past from the Bruins late in seasons, and we’re seeing it again despite a different coach and some new, hard-nosed players like David Backes. That lack of composure combined with a pinch of panic is a potentially disastrous mix for the Black and Gold, just as it has been for the last three years.
“Those follow up shifts need to be our best shifts of the game. They’re when you can either bury a team, or when you get scored on to have a great response, and to show that you’re not going away [if you’re the team trailing]. I don’t think they were our best shifts. They were probably some of our least [effective] in the form of execution, least form of desperation and fortitude to just impose what we’re going to do on the other team.
[Tampa] certainly made good on their chances, there’s no question about that. But I think we led into them way too much and the result is the result that we don’t get points again. We’re four [losses] in a row here, but this needs to stop Saturday [against the Islanders] or the bleeding starts to get profuse after that. The guys are in this room. We know it. We’ve seen it. We need to look in the mirror.”
It goes beyond a thoroughly gross second period, however.
The Bruins last line of defense, No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask, crumbled in the second and third period as things were falling apart around him. Anton Stralman beat him high to the short-side, glove side for the game-tying goal on a transition play, and Jonathan Drouin snapped one past him from the face-off circle that dipped under his glove hand for the game-winner.
It was a soft, inexcusable goal allowed in a hugely important game, and was part of five goals allowed on 28 shots for the former Vezina Trophy winner. After the game Rask seemed frazzled, his voice getting soft and trailing off when it was his turn to accept responsibility for a giant stink bomb tossed down on the Garden ice.
“You have to [pick up the team]. A lot of the time that’s the case, the goalie has to make a couple extra stops there and today I didn’t,” said Tuukka Rask. “That’s part of my job to accept the fact that sometimes it’s your fault. There were a couple of times I should’ve made the save, but it happens sometimes…”
The high pressure situation with things spiraling out of control even seemed to be getting to their best, most established players with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand forcing things down a goal in the third period. Bergeron and Marchand were put back together with David Pastrnak in the second and third periods with Bruce Cassidy looking for answers, and they attempted to execute a D-zone face-off play that’s worked a few times for them in the last few years.
It involves Bergeron winning the draw, and then either Marchand or Pastrnak immediately releasing for a home run pass that can turn into a breakaway opportunity if the opponent is caught napping. Tampa Bay wasn’t caught unaware when the B’s tried it in the middle of the third period, but then Bergeron and Co. kept trying to make it happen.
They ended up icing the puck multiple times trying to make the goal happen in one quick play rather than working for the tying goal, and it killed any momentum they could have possibly started building up for a third period comeback. It also showed a fundamental lack of confidence that they could scratch and claw their way back in on Thursday night, and that’s a definite cause for concern at this time of year.
“At the end of the day, it is a focus, and it’s urgency, and it’s understanding time and score. We did not have a good comprehension of that tonight, I don’t think, and of late,” said Cassidy. “We’ve let games get away, and you can look back, even this year, we’ve had some goals scored against us late throughout the course of the year. It’s been built in this year, and we’re still fighting through it, to be perfectly honest.
“It’s a mindset that we’ve just got to get harder and understand the stakes, and what’s required after you score a goal. I think winning teams get through that, and we’re fighting through it this year. Some nights, we’ve been good at it. We’ve had resiliency, I think. It’s just, lately, it’s creeping in, and we’ve got to nip it in the bud now.”
It hasn’t been just the young players at the heart of this four-game losing streak, and the Tampa loss should have been a wakeup call that the Bruins veterans need to find a way to step up their focus, their effort level and their composure at this time of year. After their fourth loss in a row, the Bruins have frittered away whatever margin for error they once had with just eight games remaining in the regular season.
Their next wrong move will cause a nosedive straight out of the playoffs for the third year in a row, and that will spell changes far and wide on Causeway Street for the Boston Bruins.