New York welcomes phenomenon Tim Tebow with mixed emotions and uncertainty.
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 12:04
The most controversial team in the NFL has just added the league’s most contentious player. After a tumultuous 2011 season that ended worse than many had predicted, the Jets are once again front-page news after signing Tim Tebow. New York Giants might have won the Super Bowl, but the Jets are undoubtedly the more talked about this off-season.
The Jets finished the 2011 season with three straight losses to the Eagles, Giants, and Dolphins. The loss to the Dolphins, which ended all playoff hopes for the Jets, was particularly painful. Scandal-ridden wide receiver and team captain Santonio Holmes was benched for fighting with teammates, quarterback and GQ cover boy Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions and outspoken head coach Rex Ryan failed to deliver on his promise of winning the Super Bowl, again.
Up until the signing of Tebow, the Jets were making little noise during this off-season. They signed safety LaRon Landry to fill a gaping hole in the secondary. They made little effort to sign Payton Manning, the holy grail of free agents, and instead extended Mark Sanchez’s contract while signing a backup quarterback in Drew Stanton. With these transactions completed, the Jets seemed to be done shopping. Surprisingly to some, they chose to sign another quarterback in Tim Tebow, making him the most talked about backup in history.
Tim Tebow has reached a new level of stardom, ironically through his demotion to a backup role. Tebow became a household name playing at the University of Florida. While there he won two national championships and was awarded the Heisman Trophy. But many people weren’t talking about his football accomplishments; they were debating his on field antics.
Tebow, a devout Christian, frequently demonstrated his religious convictions on the field, which elicited critism from some, and praise from others. Tebow’s ability to play in the NFL was also a topic of contention; he has unusual throwing mechanics and needs a specific offensive system to shine.
But during his second season in the NFL, Tebow broke into the spotlight leading the Broncos to a 7-1 record in his first eight starts of the year, and despite awful quarterback statistics, he even led the Broncos to a first round playoff win against the Pittsburg Steelers.
Tebow has proved himself to be a competitor and winner, but his statistical performance has led critics to debate his talent and future in the NFL. New York is a city that loves a winner, but whether fans will love Tebow is yet unknown, especially considering that everyone already has a pre-existing opinion of him. The acquisition of Tebow has had many analysts debating the outcome of the partnership with Sanchez and marriage into an already unstable team. These are the scenarios:
Best Case Scenario: Tebow embraces his position as a role player. The Jets are able to run flea flicking, bootlegging, wildcat formations, better than they were when Brad Smith was the situational player. They are able to run a two-quarterback formation (imagine Sanchez and Tebow in the backfield), which leaves defenses at the mercy of recently added offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Sanchez and Tebow develop a great relationship, allowing them to create effective synergy; super bowl ensues.
Worst Case Scenario:Any situation that forces Tebow to throw more than five passes per game. Mark Sanchez begins to play poorly, and all of New York starts yelling for Tebow to become the starter.
The already strained relationship between Sanchez, Ryan, Tebow, and Holmes completely implodes; leaving the team with a catastrophic mess that cannot be fixed (this is quite possible). Which leaves the levelheaded Giants as the only relevant team in New York (and yes the Bills are still irrelevant.)
What Will Happen:Tebow’s arrival will motivate Sanchez to practice harder and feel less complaisant. The addition of Tebow will give the Jets another dimension, which will allow them to run a reasonably effective Wildcat offense.
Many argue that the Wildcat formation is not effective if expected, but in Brad Smith’s second year in that position, he rushed for eight yards a carry, while not being a legitimate passing threat.
Tebow can throw, which will make rushing the ball more effective than when Smith played the role. Aside from the occasional Wildcat setting, Tebow will, in effect, be a toy for Sparano, allowing for a variety of gimmicky plays that will be sure to entertain the fans. Tebow will not start any games (barring injury), despite the fact that many will call for Sanchez’s demotion.
The addition of Tebow has fans overreacting both in positive and negative ways. He will neither solve the Jets’ many problems nor make them a Super Bowl favorite. But he will expand the Jets playbook for the better, bring a positive attitude to a team that desperately needs it, and will continue to gain talent and expertise.