Rather than actually winning Lombardi Trophies like the crosstown-rival New York Giants, the Jets have spent most of the past five seasons huffing and puffing about them before falling short. The franchise had uncharacteristically taken a relatively low-key approach this offseason, with head coach Rex Ryan greatly toning down his rhetoric and no major personnel acquisitions.
That all changed Wednesday when, as first reported by FOXSports.com NFL insider Jay Glazer, the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos received fourth- and sixth-round picks as well as a payment of about $5 million for salary advanced Tebow per the terms of his rookie contract. The Jets landed Tebow, a seventh-round pick and something more.
A media circus and quarterback controversy.
The compensation was a fourth- and sixth-round pick in exchange for Tebow and seventh-round draft choice. New York, though, actually received something more in return for those picks than Tebow.
A media circus and quarterback controversy are part of the package, too.
This isn’t to say the Jets made a mistake landing Tebow. It’s too early to tell.
Say what you will about a throwing motion that can be described somewhere between unorthodox and fatally flawed. Even with a 46.5 completion percentage, Tebow still led the Broncos to an AFC West title and second-round playoff appearance in his second NFL season thanks to a penchant for making big plays in crunch time.
There must be a place in the NFL for someone with the poise and athletic gifts that Tebow possesses. Whether it’s as a bona fide starting quarterback, situational player or celebrated third-stringer remains uncertain.
The Jets are about to find out.
No offensive coordinator is better suited to take advantage of Tebow’s skills than fellow Jets newcomer Tony Sparano. He fell in love with the “Wildcat” offense during three-plus seasons as Miami’s head coach.
The Dolphins’ success gradually faded when opposing defenses were no longer caught off guard by the formation. However, Miami had a running back (Ronnie Brown) receiving the shotgun snap during its heyday. That allowed opposing defenses to stack the box while deploying only nominal pass coverage. Although his accuracy is spotty, Tebow is a far more dangerous option to throw than Brown ever was.
If running the Wildcat is all the Jets envision Tebow contributing, Mark Sanchez has nothing to worry about.
If the Jets place their starting quarterback spot up for grabs, Sanchez has more to sweat than competition.
New York already considered a replacement earlier this month by sniffing around Peyton Manning, who got Tebow shipped out of Denver by signing with the Broncos. When rebuffed, Jets management seemingly gave Sanchez a vote of confidence with a two-year contract extension.
The ballot was recalled with the Tebow trade.
Sanchez already was on thin ice entering the offseason after regressing in his third NFL campaign. But it was more than just inconsistent play that cast doubt about whether he can truly become the franchise quarterback the Jets had envisioned.
Say what you will about Tebow as a passer. The leadership Tebow displayed and respect earned from teammates for the way he carried himself last season — especially amid suffocating media attention — is undeniable.
Tebow never had his work ethic called into question like Jets teammates did with Sanchez after the 2011 campaign. Tebow never feuded with his top wide receiver like Sanchez did with Santonio Holmes, which was one of the reasons New York’s offense came undone.
Sanchez still has his backers, for sure. But that legion of supporters will be dwarfed by the diehard Tebow contingent loudly clamoring for one of the NFL’s most popular players. Unless the Jets are winning and humming on offense, they will call for Sanchez’s benching every time he throws an incompletion. The pressure of performing in the league’s largest media market will become even greater.
Sanchez can quash the Timsanity by playing at a much higher level than last season. He will fuel it by continuing to founder.
Tebow, too, must make major strides in his game. Otherwise, Tebow’s popularity will cool off just like Lin’s did as the NBA season unfolded and his performances became less dynamic.
Ideally for New York, the pending QB battle will bring out the best in both players. The worst-case scenario: Neither proves good enough to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl title.
That would truly be maddening for the Jets and their long-suffering fans.