Tim Tebow’s season with the New York Jets has been a big disappointment, but it was only last season that Tebow not only led the Denver Broncos to a playoff berth, but to a victory in the postseason as well. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars go into Sunday tied for the NFL’s worst record at 2-12, and 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert has failed to establish himself in his first two seasons as the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.
Tebow deserves a second chance at being a starting quarterback next season, and according to a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, he may get that chance with the Jaguars.
Mortensen said Saturday night that according to league sources, it is a “virtual certainty” that Tebow, who is expected to be released by the Jets following the season, will sign with the Jaguars in 2013. While that remains little more than speculation at this point, it is a move that makes a great deal of sense on both sides of the equation.
Both Tebow and the Jaguars are currently in bad situations. By coming together, each party could potentially be the solution to one another’s biggest problem with their current situation.
Tebow was traded to a team who never gave him a fair shot to compete for a starting quarterback job. Given that the Jets chose to start Greg McElroy over Tebow in place of struggling incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez, it certainly appears as though he will never get that shot.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars could end up with the NFL’s worst record this season. A big reason for that has been the poor quarterback play of both Gabbert and Chad Henne, who have combined to complete just 55.5 percent of their passes, pass for 202 yards per game and have a combined passer rating of just 76.6, which ranks 26th among team passer ratings.
Should Tebow sign with the Jaguars in 2013, he will be able to enter what Mortensen called an “open quarterback competition.” While there is no guarantee he would beat out Gabbert and Henne for that job, he would give the Jaguars a quarterback with a proven history of winning big games and putting together clutch performances, something neither Gabbert nor Henne has.
While Tebow had his choice of being traded to the Jets or Jaguars last season, and made what in hindsight looks to be a mistake by choosing the Jets, it is easy to see why Tebow would change his mind and now be interested in going to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars are one of only a few teams where Tebow could truly have an equal opportunity to beat out his competitors in the preseason for a starting quarterback job. Additionally, Jacksonville is less than 80 miles away from the University of Florida in Gainesville, where Tebow first became a star as a Heisman Trophy winner and national champion.
This is not to say Tim Tebow can be the long-term quarterback and savior of the Jaguars franchise, for there are valid reasons why no team offered more than fourth- and sixth-round draft picks to acquire him last offseason. Tebow has very poor mechanics as a pocket passer, and even in leading the Broncos to team success in his only year as a starter, he completed just 46.5 percent of his passes with a 72.9 quarterback rating—worse than the numbers of Gabbert and Henne for the Jaguars this season.
What he is, however, is a natural leader and proven winner who can be a very legitimate competitor for the starting quarterback job in Jacksonville. Additionally, for a team that consistently has trouble selling out home games, the acquisition of fan-favorite Tebow could lead to a welcome spark in both attendance and national attention, both categories in which the Jaguars have lagged behind the majority of the league.
Assuming Tebow is released, the Jaguars should be able to sign him to a short-term contract at a low price. That would make signing Tebow a low-risk move with potentially high reward, and for a team that has basically nowhere to go but up, that is a chance well worth taking.
The Jaguars may not have their long-term starting quarterback on the roster, but drafting another quarterback in the early rounds is not the best move for them. The 2013 NFL draft class includes no elite quarterback prospects, and the Jaguars have many other needs on both sides of the ball that need to be addressed.
By signing Tebow, the Jaguars would be able to bring in a potential upgrade at quarterback while saving their draft selections. While the media circus that comes with a Tebow acquisition would not allow the Jaguars to remain “committed” to Gabbert, it would allow them to bring in another option without necessarily moving on from their struggling investment.
If Tebow was a sure-fire NFL starting quarterback, he wouldn’t be mired as the third-stringer for a struggling New York Jets this year. That said, his 2011 accomplishments should earn him a shot at redemption, and the perfect team to give him that shot next season would be with the Jaguars, who desperately need to find ways to improve in 2013.
Dan Hope is an NFL draft Featured Columnist and the New England Patriots game-day correspondent for Bleacher Report.