Tim Tebow: Acquiring Polarizing QB Would Revitalize Stagnant Jaguars Franchise

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Quarterbacks Tim Tebow #15 and Mark Sanchez #6, look on as teammate Greg McElroy #14 of the New York Jets passes before the start of their game against the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Barring some cataclysmic turn of events, Sunday's season finale against the Buffalo Bills will mark Tim Tebow's final game as a member of the New York Jets.

Head coach Rex Ryan passed over his controversial quarterback for the second time in the past two weeks by choosing Mark Sanchez to replace an injured Greg McElroy. It was just last week that McElroy took over as starter and replaced Sanchez, much to the ire of Tebow.

After that decision, Tebow and Ryan reportedly had a heated exchange and Tebow was moved out of the team's Wildcat package in favor of Jeremy Kerley. 

In other words, he's gone. And to be honest, the writing has been on the wall for some time. On the season, Tebow has thrown just eight passes, completing six for 39 yards. He's also run the ball 32 times for 102 yards heading into Week 17, but the 25-year-old quarterback's most consistent form of playing time actually came in punt protection.

It has been—for lack of better description—an unmitigated disaster and a laughable circus from the moment Tebow arrived at Jets camp.

It's no longer a question of if Tebow will leave New York. It's now about answering the question of where the young man's next destination will be. Some have suggested Tebow throw his hat in the Canadian Football ring, where he would unquestionably get an opportunity to start at quarterback.

Obviously, that won't happen. Some NFL franchise will believe in Tebow enough to give him a chance.

In particular, that team should be the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he would help revitalize a franchise hanging on by the fringes. 

Jacksonville has long been Tebow's most likely destination in 2013 and the pairing is already a "virtual certainty," according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen:

League sources say it is a virtual certainty Tim Tebow will land a job back home with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. Tebow reportedly will be traded or released after the season, but league sources say the Jets are likely to honor Tebow's forthcoming request to be released and therefore become an unrestricted free agent.

Before we get started on why Tebow would "save" the team, let's get one misnomer out of the way: The Jaguars aren't the worst team in the NFL attendance-wise. Far from it, actually. They average a little less than 65,000 fans per game and have filled EverBank Stadium to a 96.8 percent capacity this season, which ranks 17th.

In fact, if you're looking for a Floridian team in need of Tebow for attendance purposes, that would be the Dolphins. They have filled Sun Life Stadium to only 76.3 percent capacity this season, which is over six percent worse than the next-worst team in the NFL (San Diego Chargers). 

On the other hand, Jacksonville needs Tebow for the purposes of injecting life into a relatively listless football community. While the Jaguars aren't necessarily hurting for attendance, they are the least valuable franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes.

Where exactly does that lack of value come from? More than anything, it's the fault of EverBank Field, which hasn't seen many state-of-the-art renovations since opening in 1995.

There are no massive high-definition screens like the ones in Dallas, and the Jaguars' lack of stadium-wide luxury boxes limit their earning potential exponentially. Each of the teams inside the top 10 in Forbes' value list are either NFL royalty (Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears), have stadiums that are top-notch (Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets) or have both (New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants).

The Jaguars are neither an NFL juggernaut nor do they have a great stadium. That's the overarching reason you hear so many rumors about a possible move to Los Angeles. 

To compete with the rest of the teams in the NFL, Jacksonville needs revenue to build a new stadium. 

That's where Tebow comes in. A patron saint from his high school days in the Jacksonville area, Tebow famously went on to become a superstar at Florida, where he won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy. He's essentially a demigod in the state and could probably realistically win a Senate seat if he truly wanted. 

Though much of the country has grown tired of the Tebow shtick, Jacksonville and the state of Florida have not. Despite a career completion percentage of 47.9, Tebow would be welcomed to the Jaguars with arms as wide as they could possibly stretch.

More than ticket revenue, he would create community buzz. Jerseys would fly off the shelves, ESPN would incessantly cover the Jaguars and the team would become an en vogue and polarizing franchise.

The last time that happened Mark Brunell was Jacksonville's starting quarterback. 

Speaking of starting quarterbacks, Jacksonville doesn't exactly have one. That was obvious from the moment Chad Henne stepped into the starting lineup and Jacksonville's offense instantly improved without Blaine Gabbert. 

Say what you will about allowing guys to develop, but we've seen in recent years with the likes of Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck that the learning curve is smaller than ever for young quarterbacks. 

Gabbert isn't there. He has a career quarterback rating of 70.2 and ranks as the No. 32 quarterback among 39 qualifiers in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric this season. 

Granted, Tebow isn't great shakes as a drop-back quarterback. But when including all of the mitigating factors, the choice between Tebow and Gabbert becomes a no-brainer.

At best, Gabbert is a poor man's Joe Flacco. On the other hand, he could be a guy who plays out the life of his rookie contract and is never seen from or spoken about again. Either way, Gabbert probably isn't positively affecting the franchise. 

At worst, Tebow is a guy who ignites superficial lifeblood into a struggling franchise, sells gobs of jerseys and puts the Jaguars on the national radar. He could be a weekly joke on the football field and it wouldn't matter because Jacksonville finally would again.

The best-case scenario sees Tebow do all of those superficial things while winning and forming a dynamic running duo with Maurice Jones-Drew. I'm no financial analyst, but some season of good Tebow would ostensibly take the Jaguars out of the NFL's value basement. 

He may not have been the answer to the Jets' offensive ills, but Tebow certainly has the power to revitalize the Jaguars—at least superficially.

Considering Jacksonville is 2-13 heading into Week 17, there's nowhere to go but up. Adding Tebow could be the first catalyst in the team's upward trajectory.


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