Tim Tebow's days in New York are numbered. Like the Sword of Damocles hanging over the would-be king, Tebow's roster spot on the Jets hangs by a horse's hair.
Can the same be said about Tebow's NFL career in general?
“I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.” ― Tim Tebow— Richard Simmonds (@RichSimmondsZA) April 16, 2013
A Quarterback Scorned
The Broncos didn't simply decide they didn't like Tim Tebow. After all, he was able to captivate a nation of football fans with his late-game heroics, even if he was polarizing in the process. The excessive media attention was a turnoff, and the fortunate nature of some of those victories was a red flag.
Denver had a ticking clock on its hands.
John Elway was able to extricate himself from the sticky situation when he lassoed the biggest prize in 2012 free agency, Peyton Manning. It gave him an escape hatch with Tebow, allowing him to trade away his playoff winner for a fourth-round pick.
It was a brilliant move that was met with vitriol from Tebow fanatics. Indeed, despite a five-game improvement with Manning, fans ridiculed Elway when the Broncos failed to win a playoff game.
Tebow's tenure in New York has been an unmitigated disaster in NFL terms. The move was widely mocked from the beginning, and it went downhill from there.
In truth, the Jets had reasons to start McElroy over Tebow last year, none of which involved a conspiracy theory to keep Tebow down.
Tebow turned Ryan off with terrible practices from the very beginning. His terrible accuracy was the biggest problem—the man completes less than 50 percent of his passes.
Steve Clarkson, a quarterback coach, thinks he has fixed Tebow's passing woes (via Bob Glauber of Long Island Newsday):
"The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion," said Clarkson, who also has worked with NFL quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinart and draft-eligible quarterback Matt Barkley of USC. "A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he'd make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up."
Has Tebow solved the problem?
"There's no question he can [shorten his throwing motion]" Clarkson said. "The things that he needs to work on are very coachable and actually very minor."
All Tebow needs now is another chance and a team willing to view him as an athlete, not a cult phenomenon who can become the kind of distraction we saw with the Jets last year.
And that is the rub for Tebow. Mechanics. The same as it ever was for him coming out of college.
This isn't Tebow's first go-round at fixing, among other things, his throwing motion. It was his biggest knock coming out of college, something he purportedly worked tirelessly to fix. But when push came to shove, Tebow regressed as a passer.
Can an old dog be taught new tricks? Granted, at 25, Tebow isn't exactly old, but fixing a long-broken throwing motion is harder than it sounds.
Anyone who says they've fixed Tim Tebow's mechanics...I want what he's smoking.
— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) April 17, 2013
Of course, Tebow's allure is much more than how well he can throw a ball. Ironic, considering he is a quarterback.
The Road Ahead
Tebow has become the poster boy for intangibles. His ability to will teams to victory has become mythical, his infectious passion for the game legendary. Ardent supporters have insisted he brought a winning culture to Denver that has persisted long after his departure.
But reality is far less exciting.
Nobody questions his passion, but Tebow has gone 8-7 as a starter in the NFL, a far cry from the notion that he "just wins." He has had several clutch moments in those victories, to be sure. But, last I checked, Tebow doesn't play both ways.
As inspirational as he can be, Tebow's issues as a passer will haunt him throughout his career. He couldn't even get on the field when the read-option became fashionable, an offensive wrinkle more suited to his style.
So what is in store for Tebow after the draft dust settles?
The big quarterback has almost become radioactive; teams are afraid to touch him. His presence on the team has become increasingly toxic, even if it is a result of media attention more than Tebow's actions.
Not even Jacksonville—Tebow's home town—wants to bring him on. Nobody seems to want the kind of publicity he attracts.
A stint in the Arena Football League awaits, at the very least. But is the NFL truly finished with the man who generates arguably the most buzz, polarization notwithstanding?
It has long been speculated that Tebow could try his hand at a different position, perhaps tight end. The longer he waits to make that move, however, the more difficult it would be. And he seems dead set on sticking with quarterback.
Tebow reported to voluntary workouts with the Jets this week, on time and without a fuss despite the team's obvious displeasure—they are, after all, trying to trade him. New York is trying to move him and the $1.53 million still owed to Denver, but the team will likely cut bait if it can't get a buyer during the draft.
The Sword will fall, but how much damage will it do? If the Jets wind up cutting Tebow, these workouts could be the last we see of the embattled quarterback in the NFL.
Perhaps the Shield will soften the blow.