New York Jets QB Tim Tebow has been commissioned as a superhero by Marvel Comics, discussed by President Obama and name-dropped in a (warning: profane) Rick Ross mixtape. But will he ever again play quarterback in the NFL?
It's not often that a Heisman Trophy-winning passer with an NFL playoff victory winds up permanently playing another position, but on the heels of Jets starter Mark Sanchez's strong performance in Week 1, it bears asking whether Tebow will ever eclipse Sanchez as the Gang Green's starting quarterback.
Sanchez completed 70 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns in the Jets' season opener against the Buffalo Bills. He looked confident in the pocket and executed some tough throws with precision.
Meanwhile, Tim Tebow and the outdated Wildcat package mustered only 22 yards on eight plays. Tebow himself ran for just 11 yards on five rushes, all without attempting a single pass.
While Sanchez has scuffled through his first few years in the NFL, his ceiling as a passer is much higher than Tebow's. He's blessed with a good arm and solid awareness, and he can make plays out of the pocket.
His biggest issue is making pre-snap reads and anticipating the defense, but the Jets are able to simplify his reads with a combination of off-tackle bootlegs, hot routes and check-downs.
When Sanchez has adequate weapons and enough time to run through his progressions, he can be an above-average QB in the NFL.
The same cannot be said of Tebow.
Tebow's value rests in his athleticism and versatility. He isn't a great quarterback, nor even an average one. He's got an awkward throwing motion that ruins his accuracy on short- to medium-range passes, and his decision-making skills are questionable.
He's clearly got NFL skills, but they aren't suited to the quarterback position.
The Jets did find creative ways to utilize Tebow throughout Week 1. He ended up playing 12 snaps—eight behind center, three on special teams (where he played both punts and kickoffs, even recovering an onside kick) and one, the first snap of the game, as an H-back.
Tebow fits well in any of those roles, particularly H-Back, where he has the size to be a capable blocker and the athleticism to gain separation against linebackers.
In fact, Tebow is built similarly to New England Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez, a classic flex-personnel, or "F" tight end. The "F" tight end is usually 6'3" and about 240 pounds, fast and athletic and a good route runner. Tebow, like Hernandez, is listed at 6'3", 245 pounds.
Though the route-running qualification remains to be seen with regards to Tebow, he should know a thing or two about route intricacies as a former quarterback. Unless he has stone hands, he should be well-suited to the role.
And that's a good thing for his career because no matter how intense Tebow-mania becomes, it doesn't change the fact that he is not an NFL-caliber QB.
It doesn't help Tebow's cause that the Jets' schedule features teams that are designed to take away Tebow's best asset: his legs. New York has six remaining games against teams that were top 10 in the league in run defense last season, including each of their next three matchups.
Upcoming opponents like the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks have the personnel to shut down Tebow's read-option offense. They can force Tebow into a more traditional drop-back passer role, and then capitalize on his exposed weaknesses.
Given the Jets' personnel, it makes much more sense to go with Sanchez in those matchups. He's better suited to take advantage of an aggressive D, and he appeared to have good chemistry with WR Santonio Holmes and promising rookie Stephen Hill in Week 1.
The full extent of Mark Sanchez's potential remains to be seen, but it's already clear that—barring injury—Tim Tebow shouldn't be a starting quarterback again.
At least not for the New York Jets.
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