The grand experiment has begun.
The Jets’ Tim Tebow era officially kicked off Friday night in Cincinnati, with the most popular backup quarterback in the NFL taking snaps with the second-team offense and being inserted on special teams as a “personal punt protector.” It was a disappointing night for Tebow and the Jets, who looked lackluster in their 17-6 loss to the Bengals. But the preseason loss didn’t matter as much as the start of “Tebow Time.”
Tebow was 4-of-8 for 27 yards and threw an interception in the third quarter on a pass intended for tight end Jeff Cumberland. It was his last pass of the game.
“It felt great. My first snaps as a New York Jet felt really great. I think we did some things really well. Obviously, we would have liked to put the ball in the end zone a few more times but I felt pretty good out there for my first time in a little while,” Tebow said. “I guess I’d like to have my last throw back, but I felt like we did some pretty good things.”
In the first pass of his Jets career, Tebow came in the second quarter and hit rookie Stephen Hill for a 12-yard gain. But true to form, Tebow’s arm isn’t what gained most of his yards as he led the team with 34 yards on four carries.
Head coach Rex Ryan liked what he saw of Tebow in his limited snaps on offense.
“I liked the poise he showed. Obviously, [he] made some big runs and that’s what we say he can do. If you want to come after him, you better get to him. In time, he’ll kill you running and that’s what he did,” Ryan said.
Starter Mark Sanchez was slightly better than his understudy, going 4-of-6 for 21 yards. His first series on offense was a three-and-out.
Tebow is still learning the scheme brought in by new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano since being traded to the Jets in March. Even if the stats weren’t gaudy from Tebow, he likes what he’s seeing from the offense and his coordinator.
“It’s exciting. He’s extremely creative and tonight’s nothing that we game-planned or nothing that we tried to do special,” Tebow said. “I think the coolest thing about playing for someone like that is he wants to think outside the box and come up with awesome new stuff and continue to think and grow as a coach and help us grow as players.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.