Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Football Messiah Heads to the Big Apple

After a whirlwind 48 hours, Tim Tebow is headed to a team that is more dysfunctional than Jon and Kate Plus 8 and more publicity-seeking than the Kardashians. I am a Tebow fan. I was one of the few Alabama fans who sincerely felt bad for him after Bama stomped him in the 2009 SEC Championhip Game. I wanted Bama to win of course, but I wanted it to be a good game. I admired how he tried to rally the troops for one last run at Bama and how he was a gracious loser. Then the story came out the next week how he prayed with Mark Ingram at the Heisman Ceremony to try to give Mark peace, and that caused me to like him even more. I bought into his rah rah speeches and emotional leadership. I thought he had the "It" Factor that would allow him to become a great quarterback in the NFL, and I still do. But I do not think he's walking into a good situation in New York.

The Jets are led by a blowhard in Rex Ryan and have a very dysfunctional locker room with no true leadership.  The team lacked cohesion, and all of their bravado was gone when they finished the season on a three-game losing streak. Santonio Holmes quit on his team in the middle of the final regular-season game, which the Jets needed to win to have a shot at making the playoffs. AND HE'S STILL ON THE TEAM! Shortly following the season, anonymous criticism came out against the eggshell-tough quarterback Mark Sanchez. This led to owner Woody Johnson and center Nick Mangold defending Sanchez's work ethic and trying to portray that the problems were being handled.

Then the entire offseason dance with Peyton Manning went down, and everyone knew that Tebow's days as a Bronco were numbered. After the Jets flirted with Manning, they gave Sanchez a 3-year contract extension to try to salve the wound of Sanchez's ego. Then, last Friday, the Jets signed career backup Drew Stanton to a one-year deal to be Sanchez's backup putting three quarterbacks on the roster. To the surprise of everyone on Wednesday the Jets were able to pull of the trade that landed them Tebow. The camps were mixed with the Jets as to whether this was a good move or not. Antonio Cromartie tweeted out that Jets didn't need Tebow. (What a way to welcome a new teammate!) He later backtracked on his statement and tried to say he wanted the Jets to spend money on more weapons for Sanchez. No player on the Jets has come out (as of 3:16 p.m. Central Time today) to support Tebow. A lot of people suspect that Rex Ryan made this trade so that the Jets can stay in the spotlight of the NFL while the Saints are being punished and the Broncos are welcoming Manning. A trade for the sake of publicity does no one any good. The Jets circus was about to be cranked up to 11.

Now there are some upsides to this trade. Tebow will probably at first be used exclusively in the Wildcat formation. Tony Sparrano utilized this during his head coaching days with the Dolphins and was the first in the NFL to do so. Tim has shown that he is very adept at running this package with the Broncos when he supported it by making some throws down the field. Tim had trouble doing that on a consistent basis though, and that allowed opponents to stack the box against him and slow down or stop the spread option attack. Tim will have to work on being more accurate with his throws, but he has shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to be an NFL quarterback.

So now Tebow comes to the biggest media market in the world as one of four quarterbacks on the Jets roster. He has a starter ahead of him whose confidence is shaky at best, a locker room that is splintered and fighting with each other, a coach who drops the f-bomb the way I down Coke Zero, teammates saying they don't want Tebow there, and the pressure of the expectations of his ever-growing fan base. The situation seems like one that is doomed for failure. But call me crazy, I think Tebow has what it takes to succeed here and make a mole hill out of a mountain of obstacles.

If Tebow could pull that miracle off, we may be able to convince atheists and agnostics that there is a God.

1 comment:

  1. Right on the money!!! Good article and analysis.