Exactly one year ago, the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, a shocking move that addressed none of their needs but instantly created controversy and turmoil.
The fact that wide receiver Jeremy Kerley had more passing yards than Tim Tebow last year tells you everything you need to know about the NFL’s most scrutinized quarterback’s one, and likely only, year in New York. We didn’t learn much about Tebow on the field last season; the body of his work was so small as to make an assessment impossible, but we learned his place isn’t here with the Jets.
He came with much fanfare and hype, a standing room-only press conference for a player who was only going to be a backup. The Jets were going to revolutionize football, we were told, and the offense was going to utilize the skillset of Tebow, as was the special-teams unit with his role as a personal punt protector. He was set to take over Madison Avenue as the country’s most prominent evangelical Christian.
Instead, he ended up being the biggest distraction in the history of the game and through no fault of his own the Jets came crashing down like the walls of Jericho.
Just a couple weeks earlier, the team had given quarterback Mark Sanchez what amounted to a five-year contract extension to be their starting quarterback and the face of the franchise. Then within that very month they traded for Tebow.
His track record in Denver the season before showed he could start, play and win in the NFL, even if it was ugly. He could never do that in New York because he was never given the chance.
To utilize Tebow properly — and he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL — the offense needs to be geared around his skillset. He won’t thrive in a conventional offense, and he won’t succeed as a pocket passer. But the Jets also learned the hard way he won’t do well as a gimmick.
Where the Jets went wrong with Tebow was in not letting him compete. Throughout his career, there were wobbly passes and plenty of moments of the cringe worthy variety, but Tebow somehow always seemed to get the job done, especially in big moments. It doesn’t mean he would have won the starting job or beaten out Sanchez, but the Jets doomed him from the start by limiting his role and anointing him as just a backup.
Now with a new general manager, the Jets better learn from this mistake, even as they prepare to move on from Tebow.
In all likelihood, there will be no second coming of Tebow in New York with his days numbered with the Jets. He is beaten, battered and bruised, and his already maligned reputation as a quarterback only got worse from his time in New York.
Tebow will likely be cut at some point in the next month or two and a forward-thinking NFL general manager will sign him to a contract. Tebow will go in and compete and push for the starting job wherever he signs — just like he should have been allowed to do with the Jets.
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer