Based solely off Friday night’s preseason loss in Cincinnati, it is impossible to tell if Tim Tebow has improved, says quarterback guru Terry Shea.
The former Rutgers head coach has become the personal technique mentor to many of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, prepping the likes of Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Blaine Gabbert and Josh Freeman for the NFL Combine. Shea, who is also author of the quarterback coaching book, “Eyes Up,” watched Tebow’s performance in the second and third quarter of their 17-6 loss to the Bengals and left with mixed insight.
Tebow was 4-for-8 for 27 yards with one interception. He led the Jets in rushing with 34 yards on four carries.
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“Preseason games and performance can be overrated for a quarterback [as] his day-to-day practice development is far more important as a true evaluation. I say that because the backup quarterbacks often times enter the game with all the backup offensive line and down the line receivers,” Shea told Metro New York. “And unless the Jets are willing to begin a game in the preseason with Tebow, he may never have a fair chance to establish any rhythm which is vital to a quarterback’s game production.”
The debut was largely panned as mediocre, especially in light of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez’s show. With the first-team offense, Sanchez was a slightly better 4-for-6 for 21 yards. But he, like Tebow, failed to lead the Jets to the end zone.
Dating back to college, Tebow has never been considered a technically proficient quarterback. Most of his acclaim has come for his feet and his bruising running style.
This week in training camp, both Sanchez and Tebow were sharper than in the first preseason game of the year. Even with the improvement mechanically, Tebow still remains a work in progress. His throwing motion is elongated and far from tight, almost mirroring a sidearm motion. Because he doesn’t release the ball as quickly as other quarterbacks, he is more of a sitting duck in the pocket leading to opportunities for the pass rush to sack him or strip the ball.
Also, given his elongated windup, the secondary has a moment longer to hone in on the ball and make a play. Tebow said this week he thinks his motion has gotten faster and more concise, something Shea also sees.
“What I noticed in the few attempts he had, his mechanic of not dropping the ball below his belt line has improved. If he can continue to keep this mechanic clean, his release time will improve and the ball comes out on time,” Shea said. “The interception was simply holding the ball on a five- to eight-yard pass and allowing the defender to drive on the route. The final and most important factor for Tebow is if can he deliver the 12- to 16-yard pass with accuracy. This is true for any starter in the NFL and Tebow must prove that he can do this on a consistent basis. Will the Jets create this opportunity for him in the preseason?”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.