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Tim Tebow time? New York Jets still searching for answers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's come to this for the New York Jets. The team that will say (almost) anything has undergone a metamorphosis. These Jets will try anything. Almost anything.

"They threw the kitchen sink at us," Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak said, following Monday night's 23-17 win.

If you're Rex Ryan, why not? Ryan is desperate to save a season that's spiraling down, and he decided to let it fly. A devil-may-care onside kick? After the Jets had closed within six points? Late in the ... third quarter?

Yes. The answers were yes.

Did the Texans recover? And turn the short field into points? Those answers, too, were yes.

Ryan had no regrets. "That was me all the way," he said. "I came here to win. That's it. Whatever it takes. Faking a punt in your own territory, going for it on fourth down in your own territory -- I came to win."

There was another story on Monday night, about the team that did win. The undefeated Texans didn't play great, but they have two great players: running back Arian Foster and defensive end J.J. Watt. The Jets have no one on their roster to rival either.

What they have is a mistake-prone quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who was described last week by offensive coordinator Tony Sparano as "a piece of the puzzle." (Oh. Now they tell us.) And they have a backup quarterback, Tim Tebow, whose role remains a closely guarded secret, including to him.

"No," Tebow replied after the game when asked if he has a clear understanding when and how he will be used. He added that he's always ready when his number is called.

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Except for his role on punt team -- no one executes a better fake -- the Jets utilize Tebow almost begrudgingly, as if he were forced upon them. One play here. Two there.

Consecutive carries by Tebow in the red zone for 16 yards ... and off the field he goes. Two Sanchez incompletions follow. And a 21-yard field goal. So much for continuity, imposing of will or rhythm.

The Jets are funny. Out of necessity, they put players like Jeff Cumberland, Jason Hill and Chaz Schilens in position to win or lose plays that will determine the outcome of a game.

They aren't, as of now, willing to do the same with Tebow.

He threw the prettiest pass of the game by a Jet -- make that one of the prettiest passes of the season by a Jet -- on the team's second possession. (Hill, signed last week, couldn't make the catch.) Yet Tebow didn't make another throw in the game.

Sanchez's completion percentage -- already lowest in the league among starters and falling -- has dropped to a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey 48.4 percent. And the storyline is still that Tebow can't throw?

These Jets are in danger, serious danger, of being defined by their bad luck and considerable failings.

Perhaps you've heard, they've lost Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes for the season. That's unlucky.

The Jets can't run the ball or stop the run. And neither looks like it's going to change anytime soon, especially when you consider that Monday night's effort represented considerable progress: After being outrushed by the San Francisco 49ers by 200 yards in Week 4, they were outgained by 100 by the Texans.

Outrushed by an even 300 yards in the past two weeks. That's failure.

Jets coaches spent last week looking for solutions, and the answers Monday came with gambles that paid off -- the fake punt by Tebow and the quarterback sneak by Sanchez in their own territory.

They got the rare combination, for this group, of a dynamic play with perfect execution on a 100-yard kickoff return by Joe McKnight. That's the kind of spark that often fuels an upset.

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Instead, Ryan went with the onside kick.

The Jets did show some moxie, making good on Ryan's vow that they would "fight like underdogs." Effort wasn't the issue. Reality was.

The Jets have fallen on the wrong side of .500, and their next two games are against Andrew Luck's Indianapolis Colts and at the rival New England Patriots.

The Jets might see tight end Dustin Keller and rookie receiver Stephen Hill return soon from hamstring injuries. So, there's that. But these are still desperate times. And it's time for more Tebow. Maybe he can rekindle the magic. Maybe he can still win.

Really, what would it hurt? What could it hurt? For those answers, we're still waiting.

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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