Tebow Time only lasted a New York minute.
Tim Tebow arrived at the Jets’ facility on Monday morning and was told he had been cut. As if it would fly under the radar, a three-paragraph news release was sent out at 8:18 a.m. That early exit from Florham Park, N.J., serves as a microcosm for the quarterback’s one-year stint in the Big Apple.
The truth is, we learned a lot more about the New York Jets than we did about Tebow last season.
As the Jets’ perplexing season progressed, it became obvious that the franchise wasn’t on the same page in regards to then-general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s high-profile acquisition of Tebow. In fact, there’s no way to tell what page anyone was on.
Owner Woody Johnson said he was surprised by the “enormity” of the Tebow coverage during the preseason although he allowed ESPN to carry on its Tebowmania coverage on the front lawn of the team’s practice facility in Cortland. Later, he’d say the move was “forced” on him.
Meanwhile, head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano barely utilized Tebow at all on the field. Ryan stated before the season that they’d have a package for Tebow that could see him on the field for up to 20 plays a game. Instead, Tebow only played 77 offensive snaps the entire year to account for just 7 percent of the Jets’ offense. Moreover, he lined up at a position other than QB in 25 percent of those offensive snaps.
Tebow doesn’t deserve blame for choosing the New York Jets over the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the time, Jacksonville was still invested in their presumed quarterback of the future, 10th overall pick Blaine Gabbert, who was only entering his second season. Plus, the Jags didn’t seem to have a clear-cut plan for Tebow like the Jets did.
And not in a million years did Tebow, or anyone, think a Jets team that made it to back-to-back AFC Championships in 2009 and 2010 had apparently become a distraction away from being 6-10 and failing to make the playoffs for a second straight year.
Being the ultimate optimist that he is, Tebow at least initially figured he could provide a spark the same way he did for the Florida Gators on the way to the 2006 national title. He’d move the chains with inspired runs, he’d catch the defense off guard with long passes and he’d bring Fireman Ed to his feet to lead the chants of “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!” After all, the 2011 Jets needed that, ranking 25th in the NFL in total offense and 22nd in rushing offense. It turns out the 2012 Jets needed it even worse, finishing 30th in total offense.
The media, fans, haters, etc. don’t deserve blame either for the so-called “circus.” Tebow made us talk about Tebow. Taking the 1-4 Denver Broncos to the playoffs with multiple miracles, then beating the Pittsburgh Steelers with a game-winning overtime touchdown in the playoffs would get us talking about anybody from JaMarcus Russell to Colt McCoy. In an age where a rookie quarterback is expected to deliver before developing, Tebow delivered.
It also helps that he’s a Heisman winner and two-time national champion in college.
Regardless, it’s hard to imagine a professional football team wouldn’t consider picking up a player because he “brings too much publicity.” The Jets welcomed it and so would others. Nonetheless, the Jets reportedly tried to trade Tebow for a seventh-round pick prior to the draft and couldn’t find a taker. That could signal the end to Tebow’s NFL career.
Or it might make it that much more incredible if he picks up where he left off. Not in New York but a mile high in Denver.