Relative to his position, based on on-field skill, Tim Tebow is the worst player on the Jets.
Based on his practice results, his teammates agree. Teammates called him "terrible" in a recent New York Daily News story, which, based on his skill, is probably an accurate assessment. I mean, the man has won games in which he completed only two passes.
Tim Tebow should not ever be the starter for the New York Jets or any other NFL team. What he did in 2011, while few would admit it, was nothing but an aberration. If Tebow's name was Bob Smith, he would be selling insurance, not protecting punters.
The comments by unnamed Jets players and officials come from mounting frustration in the midst of a losing streak. They do not want to be victims of "Tebow Time," which turns their profession into an embarrassing sideshow. If they are going to lose, they want to lose like professionals behind a quarterback that can at least run a regular, professional NFL offense.
Still, Tebow is one of the only things the Jets have going for them, simply because of his attitude. He knows that he is not a great passer and understands that his popularity may rub players the wrong way. But his "aw shucks" attitude is hard to hate:
Tim Tebow is asked where he goes for here. "I go to my special teams meeting!" I love Tim Tebow.— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) November 14, 2012
Rex Ryan is a unique and misunderstood coach. He is portrayed in the media as an out-of-touch, classless coach who just runs around running his mouth. He is actually a brilliant defensive mind and has an open media policy, which is a bit refreshing in a era where some coaches are banning their players from Twitter.
In 2011, Rex Ryan was out of touch, when players such as Santonio Holmes led to a collapse in the locker room. This year, the Jets are much more united.
In fact, these Jets are too united. Last year, unnamed sources attacked Mark Sanchez's work ethic; this year, the Jets are going after the backup quarterback in anticipation of the attention he is going to get.
Rex Ryan, no matter what he publicly says, was not in the driver's seat to bring in Tim Tebow. That decision came from either Mike Tannenbaum or owner Woody Johnson. Now the Jets are repeating history, with the anger and frustration coming from different origins but both incidents fermented by losing nonetheless.
When you list the on-field problems the Jets have, the use of Tim Tebow would rank somewhere in the 20s. The run defense, which is the most consistent part of Rex's Jets in his first three years, is ranked 30th in the NFL despite adding young talent to the defensive line. Their group of skill positions is the worst in the NFL by a long shot, although losing Santonio Holmes has only exacerbated the situation. The running game is average at best, and Sanchez cannot get comfortable at any level despite improved pass protection.
After 2011's collapse, the Jets attacked some of the major problems that caused them to go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. They got rid of locker room nuisance Plaxico Burress (Holmes is only a Jet because of his contract), fixed their safety position, and brought in Tim Tebow not only to help the offense in the Wildcat formation, but to help their locker room issues as well (via the Daily News):
Some people in the Jets’ organization also believe that Tebow’s character could be an important factor. "He would be an answer to (our) locker room problems," one source told the News.
In the same report, Antonio Cromartie condemned the trade before it even occurred:
“We don't need Tebow,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted on Tuesday. “We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami.”
The 2012 Jets are exactly what Mike Tannenbaum ordered: Less talented with the Tebow dynamic thrown into the heap. Rex Ryan, being an open coach, has maintained his open media policy. The Jets are only kidding themselves if they expected anything else.
There is nothing wrong with having an open media policy, as long as they have the players to handle it. Clearly, the Jets do not.
Rex Ryan is back to being the same coach he was in 2009 and 2010, but the Jets have evolved into something that is much more difficult to handle than a football team. The Jets' dynamic right now does not match the policies of their coach, unlike the years in 2009 and 2010 when they had success.
With unnamed sources in the mix, every member of the Jets organization is a possible owner of the negative quotes about Tebow except, obviously, Tebow himself (although it would make for a heck of a plot twist if he anonymously blasted himself).
For being a "terrible" player, Tebow has handled his fall from grace with so much class and integrity that even his biggest detractors cannot help but applaud his behavior. Just a year ago, he was grabbing the attention of the sports world (even internationally) with his comeback wins, becoming the most talked-about player in recent memory.
Now, he backs up one of the worst starting quarterbacks in football and sees more time protecting the punter than doing anything else. And he's done it all with a smile.
Still, he becomes the target of all of the criticism.
What the Jets ultimately decide to do with Tebow at the end of the season remains to be seen. If they do move on from him, it was the Jets who failed Tebow, not Tebow who failed the Jets.