Tim Tebow was formally introduced as a member of the New York Jets yesterday in the first ever press conference held for a backup quarterback, but that second-string status will be removed in the near future. His rapid rise atop the depth chart is only an inevitability at this point; it won't be long before Tim Tebow replaces Mark Sanchez as the Jets' starting quarterback.
The Jets' 19-17 loss to Miami in week 17 ensured that they would miss out on the postseason. Much of the following criticism was directed at Sanchez, who went 21-32 for 200 yards but threw three crucial interceptions.
With Sanchez' inconsistent play, the Jets sought to address the quarterback position in the offseason by pursuing Peyton Manning. The 11-time pro bowler spurned New York's offer, leaving Sanchez' status as quarterback of the future in serious doubt.
Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum attempted to quell those doubts by signing Sanchez to a three-year extension which includes $20 million in guaranteed money for 2012 and 2013.
The extension was the Jets' way of signaling to Sanchez that they believed in him as the quarterback of the future. Their next move, however, suggested something completely different.
The Jets traded for Tebow, planning to use the former Broncos quarterback in a special wildcat package. Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan maintained that Sanchez would remain the starter, but all signs point to the contrary.
Tebow's lack of elite pocket-passing ability and often putrid completion percentage won't be a hindrance in his path to starter-dom. He won games last year with his legs, and most of those wins came as a result of miraculous fourth-quarter comebacks, each one increasingly plunging America into Tebowmania.
That mania, that blind devotion to Tebow's persona, will only be magnified in New York, the media capital of the world. Tebow's polarizing personality and cult following will overwhelm the Jets' season; from training camp on, Tebow—not Sanchez—will be the story.
Ryan's belief that Sanchez and Tebow can coexist with the latter running a wildcat package is, frankly, myopic. The first Tebow touchdown, or the first three-interception Sanchez game—both of which are almost certain to occur—will produce an outcry from the fans and media to expand Tebow's role in the offense.
If the wildcat package succeeds, fans will demand more Tebow. Ryan has recently suggested 10, 15, or even 20 snaps, which won't be enough to satisfy an increasingly Tebowmania-infused fan base. The fans will only be satisfied if and when Tebow takes full control of the offense, when he becomes the starting quarterback.