The New York Jets pulled out all the stops in introducing their newest acquisition on March 26, hosting a 32-minute press conference in front of 30 television cameras and over 200 credentialed members of the media.
That acquisition: the team’s new backup quarterback. Yes, it’s safe to say that Tebowmania has officially hit Broadway.
In a year that saw the rival New York Giants win the Super Bowl, Gang Green settled for winning the battle of the back page when they brought in Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks.
In an unexpected, but not uncharacteristic move for New York’s other team (see: Favre, Brett), the Jets must now deal with the white-hot spotlight of Tebowmania, the New York media, a fractured locker room, a lack of talent and the usual Rex Ryan-sized expectations. This is clearly a make-or-break move for owner Woody Johnson and the Jets.
If the team succeeds with Mark Sanchez as the starter and Tebow as the backup, then the move is heralded as a great football decision. If Sanchez struggles but Tebow succeeds in Gotham as he did in Denver, then Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum will forever go down in New York lore.
If Sanchez implodes and Tebow is exposed, though, the team could unravel in an epic and unprecedented fashion. Take your pick.
Luckily, this looks like a solid move for the Jets, at least from a football standpoint. Let’s face it, for all his haters, Tebow is a phenomenal football player and right now, the Jets just don’t have a lot of those on their roster.
Both head coach Rex Ryan and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano have seen what Tebow can do on the field, after all, they were “Tebowed” themselves last year in comeback losses to the Broncos.
The fact is that Tebow will provide valuable wildcat snaps in the run-heavy Sparano offense, essentially replacing wide-receiver Brad Smith who left for Buffalo over a year ago. Smith was dearly missed at times last year as the offense sputtered due to inconsistency.
Tebow is also a much better option than former backup Drew Stanton, who was really only brought in to hold the clipboard while praying Sanchez didn’t get hurt. During his three years in green, Sanchez has garnered the reputation of being “soft” and “coddled,” caring more about GQ interviews than keeping his job. No more. By bringing in Tebow, Sanchez must either rise to the occasion or get out of the way. Realistically, if he chooses the latter do you want him as your franchise quarterback anyway?
So essentially, the Jets gave up a fourth-round pick to replace Smith and Stanton, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a sixth-round pick in the wake of the Tebow deal. The football team is undeniably better; that’s all that matters.
As for the circus that rolled into town when Tebow arrived, well, the Jets better get used to it. The team hasn’t experienced anything like the Timsanity that will ensue; however, they did revel in the spotlight of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in 2010, reaching the AFC championship game that year. Maybe the Jets will learn to thrive on it again or believe me, they will face the consequences.
Before the trade, the Jets were a team heading for a make-or-break season; adding Tebow doesn’t change that one bit. If the team doesn’t produce on the field, it doesn’t matter if Mark Sanchez is at quarterback, or Tim Tebow or Joe Montana. Jets fans won’t tolerate mediocrity, especially with the defending Super Bowl champs sharing the same stadium.
Sure, trading for Tebow was a risk, but hopefully it turns out to be one worth taking. He’s certainly proven it. This trade isn’t about selling jerseys or PSLs at MetLife Stadium, although that’s definitely a bonus; it’s about making the football team better. Tebow is an upgrade both on the field and in the locker room. He’s a leader and most importantly a winner and that’s why he was brought on board.