The 2012 offseason has been especially well covered for Jets fans, thanks entirely to Tim Tebow. The man already with his own section on ESPN made his way to New York this summer, and now, the entire world of sports fans is subject to hearing about the biggest craze near the Big Apple.
Tebow’s unpredictability is what makes him fascinating, along with his ability to say all the right things, all the time, no matter where he is.
He is a tremendous person, and it is hard not to want him to succeed. Everyone in New York is excited to see him showcase his talents in a Jets uniform this preseason.
But he is a backup Quarterback; to Mark Sanchez.
Granted, Mark Sanchez is talented, and while not elite, he is worth the 5th overall pick the Jets spent on him. Sanchez has great arm strength, excellent mobility and occasionally spot-on accuracy. While he does have a tendency to throw interceptions, especially ones returned for touchdowns, there is no reason to believe the Jets cannot win playoff games with him at the helm.
Sanchez has managed the game and preserved the win when his team needed him the most, and doing all this when the game is most difficult to manage. The defense then for Tebow in this quarterback controversy is: so did Tebow against the Steelers.
While the Broncos were home underdogs in that game, a playoff win, especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a huge win. The thing is, Tebow got stomped the next week in New England in what was an embarrassing 45-10 loss.
Tebow had fewer completions (3) than Brady had touchdown passes in the first half. This almost held up in the second half, as Brady threw six touchdowns in the game, while Tebow finished 9-26 for 136 yards against the league’s No. 31 ranked defense.
Simply put, Tebow can not go throw for throw with Tom Brady, and that is what the Jets have needed someone to do since the Bill Belichick and Brady era began. Sanchez cannot go throw for throw with him either, but he has beaten Brady multiple times, and not a lot of quarterbacks can say that.
While Tebow is not a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, he is still a player the Jets can use to help them win games. This is where Tebow must use his greatest strength: his ability to do what’s best for the team and recognize his role. Here are two things Tebow must prove before the season starts in order to be of value to the New York Jets.
He Is ‘Excited’ to Be a Backup QB and Wildcat QB
One of Tebow’s favorite words and a good way of describing his temperament, ‘excited’ is what Tebow will need to be for the two positions he will likely have attached to him for the rest of his NFL career.
This includes telling the media and whomever else asks that he is willing to put his competitive nature aside in favor of Mark Sanchez and the team.
If he mentions anything about waiting his turn, or being frustrated with his position on the team, the media will jump all over the story like dogs on raw meat. Every player on the Jets will be badgered with questions, and before you know it, Antonio Cromartie will confess that he has never liked Sanchez and that they will not win a Super Bowl unless Tebow gets his reps.
And then every other team, sport and league will take a back seat on ESPN to Tebow coverage and the latest from a torn-up Jets locker room.
In this hypothetical but highly possible situation, someone would get traded, Rex Ryan would get fired and the Jets and their fanbase would shake their heads, counting the days until draft day.
This would be bad, but such a scenario is very uncharacteristic of Tim Tebow. Tebow pulled off dealing with a similar quarterback controversy well last year against Kyle Orton. Orton was given the starting job, Tebow accepted his role, and quietly prayed to God that Orton would screw up enough for him to get his fair shot.
It must have been the one malicious prayer Tebow ever said to God, and yet it paid dividends for the former Florida Gator. Tebow entered with little pressure on him, as the Broncos were a mere 1-4. Tebow pulled off six straight wins, and Tebowmania was born.
The beauty of the backup quarterback role for Tebow is that it is inherently the role of a savior. He who steps in when all was thought to be lost, the backup quarterback, and delivers is instantly a hero in the eyes of fans.
This works perfectly for Tebow, with the added wildcat plays being a bonus.
So wait your turn, Tebow, you will get your time for stardom in 2012. Preseason may be the most throwing action you get all year, but that should not get in the way of your football skills.
Become a Better Runner, Not a Better Thrower
The preseason will be the Jets most extensive period for evaluating Tebow as a quarterback. They will likely conclude that while a good player, he does not have the ability to stay in the pocket and let plays develop the way you would like your NFL starting quarterback to be able to do.
This can be learned, but the fact of the matter is, Tebow is a more effective player when plays break down and he is running the ball. He breaks open field tackles, is highly elusive, and runs with good pad level, which allows him to protect his body from big hits. That he is a threat to pass makes him more of a headache. He still gets hit more than any coach would like their quarterback to, but that is part of Tebow’s game.
Say Sanchez does not pull a Kyle Orton and give up the starting job early in the year. Say Sanchez is having a tremendous year, his best as a pro and he is on pace to shatter his career-high of 26 touchdowns he set a year ago by more than eight.
Teams are bottling up Tebow in the wildcat, as now that the formation has become commonplace in the NFL, every team has the size and speed necessary to match up against it.
As Tebow’s playing time dips, so may his patience for his starting NFL quarterback career.
A position the Jets are thin at is running back, where Shonn Greene has been solid but unspectacular and Joe McKnight has never had a featured role.
Though Tebow would need to split carries as the majority of NFL running backs do, he could become a highly effective running back for the New York Jets. The goal in Jets camp since sending a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick to Denver for Tim Tebow and a seventh-round pick has been to get Sanchez and Tebow on the field at the same time.
If Tebow can prove he is unselfish enough to give up his dream as a starting NFL quarterback, the Jets offense could be dangerous. Already, with a solid offensive line when healthy and with incoming talent on the outside from former Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, Tebow would add a new dimension and a consistent number of touches as a running back without taking away Mark Sanchez’s control in the team.