Perhaps the most polarizing figure in professional football is back in the news. Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets after only a single season with “Gang Green” in the “Big Apple”. Tebow’s tenure over this short period of time has come to personify the dysfunction and turmoil used to describe the inner workings of the other tenants at MetLife Stadium. From the very beginning it was an acquisition that made very little sense from a front office perspective. The Jets were coming off an 8-8 season in which Mark Sanchez threw for less than 60% completions & was ranked around the middle of the pack in production for the quarterback position.
Why make the trade?
Tebow was coming of his own 7-4 run that saw him lead the Denver Broncos to an upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wildcard weekend of the 2011 NFL playoffs. The emergence of John Elway as leader of football operations in Dove Valley spelled doom for the unconventional style & demeanor of the former Florida Gator.
Tebow was traded to the Jets in exchange for a 4th and a 6th round pick, along with (reluctantly) paying back to Denver $2.5 million in salary advance. The blur between “cover boy” and “quarterback” got a whole lot messier. It was never fully understood exactly whose idea it was to trade for Denver’s darling, nor what role he would play with Mark Sanchez as the shaky starter. The official “unofficial” comment was that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano would devise a package for Tebow to utilize his skills as a run/pass option in similar fashion to the Wildcat offense he had employed in Miami.
A clear definition
I wrote a post on this very subject shortly after the Jets acquired Tebow and encouraged those involved to clearly define the situation for Sanchez, for Tebow, and for the rest of the organization if there was any hope of developing a successful situation (Note to NY Jets – Never too early for a Sanchez/Tebow Plan).
Where does he fit?
Bygones. The Jets finished 6-10, out of the playoffs, and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired after the season was finished. John Idzik was brought in to clean up the mess and signed former Jacksonville starter QB David Garrard (out of the NFL the past 2 seasons). Then the selection of West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft sealed the fate of Tim Tebow for the second time in as many seasons.
But the debate continues – What to do with Tim Tebow? Many say he should take his game up north to the Canadian Football League where he could potentially become an instant star with the wide open field and style of play. Some say he should pursue opportunity with the New England Patriots, where his former head coach Josh McDaniels is now. Others point to the San Diego Chargers and Mike McCoy, the former Denver Bronco offensive coordinator that modified his offense to fit the skills of the unconventional Tebow.
In need of a makeover
Tim Tebow is now a street free agent just three years removed from being drafted 25th in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft. This was probably the biggest disservice to Tim Tebow’s professional football career. Moving up in the first round to select a QB with mid-round skills is a risky move. It forever labeled Tebow as a top 32 selection from that season’s player pool and probably placed unrealistic expectations upon his abilities as quarterback. There is no question that this is as passionate and fiery a young competitor as there is. But that can only get you so far as a quarterback in the National Football League. Brett Favre had that same passion and competitiveness, coupled with some pretty darn good skills for the position.
For Tim Tebow to move forward as an NFL player he’s going to need to take an introspective look at what he can bring to a club. It will be necessary to willingly redefine his responsibility as a member of a 53 man roster and that probably means he won’t be a starting quarterback, not even a top 10 player. Any club that acquires him should clearly communicate his role in their overall scheme and then succinctly state it to the fan base and media. We should all accept that and then enjoy what he brings to the game. As a former General Manager I might welcome Tim Tebow into my locker room for all his intangibles, but check the media baggage at the front door. Those very characteristics of passion and compete are what I wish every NFL player brought with them on Sunday. Only a “mature” club will see this and be able to handle the resulting turmoil that is sure to follow. Here’s hoping that Tim and that team hook up.
There is a place for Tim Tebow in the NFL, but not as a “square peg in a round hole”.