“We understand the popularity of any backup QB and this one is more unique than others.”
So said Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum after trading for the gimmick formerly known as Tim Tebow.
Tebow has set the sports glitterati of New York into a tizzy as it tries to rationalize this improbable marriage between heaven and hell. The ultra-religious, gentlemanly, over-achieving Tebow, pairing with the bombastic, vulgarity that is Rex Ryan and his gang of under-achieving reprobates, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of derision, controversy and — pure amazement.
Tebow’s arrival in New York is being greeted with large, screaming newspaper headlines:
Tebow a New York Jet GOD HIM!
Tebow Answer to Jet Prayers
Or this one: NO-RING CIRCUS
Jets are clowns for bringing Tebow under tent
The New York Post says: PRAY BALL! Jets deal for Tebow
Haven’t seen this kind of excitement since the Leafs signed a fourth-line winger. OK, that’s being cynical.
But, truth is, people just aren’t quite sure how to take this.
It’s good because perhaps some of Tebow’s work ethic and sheer decency will wear off on a team that spent so much time beating up on each other last year, they had nothing left for game day.
Or, it’s bad because the spectre of Tebowmania hangs over supposed franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez. Already playing with a paper-thin psyche, what happens the second time he overthrows Santonio Holmes?
It’s good because for the first time in his career Sanchez has a quarterback to push him. Franchise quarterbacks win under pressure. This is Sanchez’s chance to prove he is a winner.
It’s bad because Rex Ryan now has a locker room even more divided against itself than ever. He admitted he lost touch with the players last year and that there were too many individual agendas. Players are already twittering they don’t want Tebow around.
Nice. But it pretty much sums up Team Gangrene.
It’s good because Tebow gives the Jets a special weapon. Scouts Inc. says “a package with Tebow would work wonders for the Jets’ running game. The Jets’ offence stalled at various points last season. Bringing in Tebow to run 10-12 plays a game could give it a spark, both in third-and-short situations and in the red zone. Tebow’s reads would be simplified because defences have to respect his running ability. And remember, the presence of a running QB will actually increase the rushing average from the primary running back, not detract.”
It’s bad because Sanchez is just a 1-4 start away from being the next Kyle Orton. Tannenbaum was insistent that Tebow’s role with the Jets was going to be that of a backup quarterback who can run the wildcat. But ...
“If our offence is sputtering and we have, say, three three-and-outs and we roll this out there and it’s successful, who knows?” Nothing like nipping a quarterback controversy in the butt.
Actually, the Jets could’ve used someone to bail out Sanchez when he struggled last year. That’s the upside of having Tebow. He resurrected a listless, nondescript, flagging team in Denver. There isn’t any reason he can’t have a similar impact on the Jets, even in a more limited role as a wildcat specialist, playing behind Sanchez.
It will be up to Ryan to not allow weekly debates about who is playing quarterback. Anything less will divide the locker room and create another act to a circus that already had too many rings. Clubhouse leaders like Darrelle Revis, Brandon Moore and the departed LaDainian Tomlinson — all said or intimated that what went on last season in the Jets’ locker room was as bad as anything they’ve ever seen in the NFL. Bringing in Tebow could — through no fault of his own — make it worse. It is up to Ryan not to allow that to happen.
Finally, it’s good for Tebow. Jacksonville might’ve been better because there he would already have been playing for the converted. But expectations would also have been higher. Wherever he went, for Tebow it is just good that he is gone from the glare of John Elway’s insouciance. For all the excitement, for all the comebacks and the fan idolization Tebow generated, he never convinced Denver’s vice president of football operations that he could become a successful NFL quarterback. Only Josh McDaniel, long gone from Denver, ever believed in him that way.
The move allows Tebow to get away from the suffocating negativity of working for people who don’t want him. Maybe Tebow can’t play quarterback. Maybe the eight of 11 games he started when he threw for under 200 yards are the true measure of his ability. Maybe, like in Denver, he takes the Jets on a miracle carpet ride. Maybe all he will be is the making, or the breaking, of Mark Sanchez.
That’s the thing about Tim Tebow. You never know what’s going to happen next. But he’s always been a winner. Somehow. Even Broncos coach John Fox admitted after the trade that he’d never seen anyone work harder than Tebow.
The Jets can be assured of one thing. Tim Tebow might take a knee on you, but he won’t quit. Not ever. And the Jets could use a little more of that.
STANTON’S NOSE OUT OF JOINT
Another domino is ready to fall in the Tim Tebow affair.
The Jets signed Drew Stanton just last week to be Mark Sanchez’ backup.
But then the club went out and traded for Tebow Wednesday.
Stanton has told the New York Daily News he didn’t sign up to be a third-string quarterback and he wants to be released, or at least traded.
The Jets paid Stanton a $500,000 signing bonus as part of a one-year, $1.25 million deal. But, according to the newspaper, the Jets also promised Stanton that they would add no other quarterbacks, and that Stanton would be the No. 2 ahead of Greg McElroy.
Tebow’s arrival has changed all that. “When we signed Drew, obviously this was not contemplated in that decision,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. “When you get an unexpected opportunity to add a player like Tim, you have to take advantage of that.”
After four seasons with the Lions behind Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill, during which he started four games, Stanton, 27, wanted to be a No. 2 quarterback when free agency opened. He thought that he found the right team with the Jets. Six days ago, Tannenbaum called him an “ascending” player. Now he just wants Tannenbaum to call him, to say good-bye.