With the news that Tim Tebow is coming to New York, there’s a message I’d like to deliver to the young quarterback on behalf of an army of long-suffering Jets fans: We don’t want you here. Please, I’m begging you. We’ll even take Vernon Gholston back—whatever you want. Just go away.
Admittedly, it’s easy to make a case for this trade from the Jets’ perspective. Tebow could be a born-again Brad Smith, the much-loved and highly effective Wildcat quarterback whom the Jets lost to the Bills in the summer of 2011. New York’s new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano loves the Wildcat and ran it with great frequency in Miami. Send Tebow in as an occasional passing running back / running quarterback and the Jets would gain a new wrinkle to help offset the downfield passing struggles of Mark Sanchez. Plus, this is costing the Jets nothing more than a few late-round draft picks. And consider the intangibles: Tebow is great in the locker room! He’s a winner! This could be the perfect tonic for a team looking to re-calibrate after an underachieving 8-8 season.
Let me now demolish that straw man. The idea that Tebow will be limited to the Jets’ Wildcat ghetto seems preposterous given what happened during the 2011 season. Thanks to those miracle comebacks in Denver—which led the “overachieving” Broncos to an 8-8 record, the same as the “underachieving” Jets—Tebow now believes he should start in the NFL even if nine-tenths of the professional football world sees it otherwise. The under-appreciated one will exude humility at the start of the season, but imagine what will happen when Sanchez has a bad game or three. The same New York Post columnists who said early this week that the Jets should avoid Tebow like a pick in the red zone will be clamoring for the miracle worker to get his shot. That’s how it goes in New York.
But Tebow shouldn’t get his shot. We already know that he’s worse than Mark Sanchez. As a passer, Tebow makes Sanchez look like Drew Brees, or maybe Chad Pennington. When Sanchez struggles, are Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano going to install the Tebow-led, Broncos-style offense that left Denver sputtering aimlessly in 2011?
Tebow’s arrival also has to be unnerving for Sanchez, who has seen his image transform from golden boy up-and-comer to shaky interception machine. Though Sanchez’s flagging confidence got a boost recently when the Jets signed him to a $40 million extension, trading for Tebow will put the butterflies back in his stomach. There’s a good argument that Sanchez needs to be pushed, having been backed up in recent years by the NFL’s version of petrified wood, “cagey veteran” Mark Brunell. But if you want to push him, sign a real quarterback like Kyle Orton. Bringing in Tebow is the worst of all possible worlds: It will annoy Sanchez and it won’t make the Jets any better under center. .