Can Tim Tebow Thrive in a Role as the Jets' Red Zone Quarterback?
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Now, it seems we may be adding another descriptor to the list: part-red zone quarterback.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York:
Tebow will be one of the most closely watched players in the NFL...because of his role: What is he? The Jets say he's the No. 2 quarterback and will be used in the wildcat package. ...Team insiders say the plan is to use Tebow in the red zone, where they can replace Sanchez with another player/blocker to bolster the running game.
While putting Tebow in when the team gets into the red zone may have its upside in some situations, the Jets must be careful not to paint themselves into a corner and/or show their hand too early.
There hasn't been any news on Tebow's role in awhile, yet we have continued to ruthlessly pummel the subject despite no new developments. This time may be different.
Or is it?
Again, this is dependent on whether you consider it to be news at all.
We already knew Tebow's offensive snaps would likely come in Wildcat/read-option sets, but does adding the caveat that those snaps could come in the red zone add to the controversy?
Not if you ask former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who was asked about the situation by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:
"That’s kinda how we used him his freshman year...We used him as a short-yardage specialist and change-of-pace guy, so yeah. I think he’s just gotta get on the field."
It worked back then; Rapoport points out (with a hat tip to The Florida Times-Union) that Tebow had eight rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns in that red-zone role as a freshman at Florida, but this isn't the SEC and Tebow's not a freshman.
He's entering his third year in the NFL, and after starting a combined 12 games last year and three games in 2010, there's almost a full season's worth of tape on him, which could be a problem as he sees teams for a second and third time.
Defenses play significantly better against Tebow when they are more prepared to face him, so the Jets must extract any element of surprise from the situation that they possibly can.
Besides, it's not as though the Jets plan to take Sanchez out every time as soon as the offense gets within striking range; to be so blatantly obvious with the circuitous game plan would completely kill any element of surprise, which may be the best thing the Jets have going for them with Tebow. If the defense has no idea the read-option is coming, they'll have an exponentially tougher time defending it.
This latest report bears watching, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that it could work. But really, hasn't that been the case since the moment the Jets made the trade?
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