Earlier this week in Jacksonville, Florida a small group of people gathered in a rally to bring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars franchise. News of this rally quickly reached multiple sports outlets and those outlets immediately either scoffed at the idea and/or took shots at Jacksonville as a franchise, with some suggesting the team sign him because, “why not?” That, “why not,” response should be a frustrating one to real Jaguars fans as there are many reasons not to sign a quarterback whose signing would be as helpful to the team as putting a bandaid on Marie Antoinette in 1793.
For the record, I am not one of the Tim Tebow “haters” and actually was a supporter of him during his college years at Florida. He has a natural grasp of leadership and no one can question his toughness both mentally and physically. The issue for Tebow has always been, “can he play quarterback consistently in the NFL?” The answer to that question has been hazy at best. While his throwing motion has often been criticized, it is his inconsistency as a passer and his struggles to play within a system that have really kept him from progressing.
While spread option quarterbacks have recently become more common place in the NFL, the successful ones like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III have all had the arms to present the threat of the pass in addition to their running abilities, something Tebow has never consistently done in the NFL. Sure, Tebow found success at crucial times but his 47.9 career completion percentage showcases his struggles as a passer. As stated above, many of his biggest issues in the passing game actually come from his inability to read and execute on the field. At Florida he had some serious talent to help him out but that is not the case in Jacksonville, whose best weapons are a banged up MJD, an inconsistent receiving corps, and a struggling tight end in Marcedes Lewis.
Tebow’s well-documented dedication to film study has never really paid off on the field, as he often misreads complex coverages and does not possess the accuracy to make up for a risky throw. This leads to more turnovers and sacks for an NFL defense. This separates him from a guy like Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger who, like Tebow, plays better while improvising but, unlike Tebow, has the arm and field vision to make the right throws while scrambling. The irony about Tebow is that he can be coached and molded by the right people but will likely never get the chance after becoming the victim of early success and stardom.
If there is one thing that I believe garners Tim Tebow negative coverage it is not so much Tebow as it is his fans. Make no bones about it, Tebow is a good role model for young Christians, and that is great for them, but the glorification of the quarterback has grown disproportionally to his success on the NFL stage. The “we want Tebow” chant has become synonymous with the quarterback and fans use it to mock both their own or an opposing team. No matter where he goes, he draws a crowd (and subsequently cameras) and that means he is the world’s most distracting backup quarterback through little fault of his own. Unfortunately for Tebow, he cannot be a practice squad player due to his early success and he seems reluctant to give up his dream of being an NFL quarterback no matter how Quixotic his pursuit becomes.
Fans that rallied for Tebow in Jacksonville are obviously rallying more for him than the team itself as Jacksonville has become so talent deprived, due to horrible past free agency errors and many overreaches in the drafts, prior to new GM David Caldwell and current head coach Gus Bradley being brought in this past offseason. Jacksonville has so many holes this year that even if they miraculously signed a genetically engineered quarterback spliced from the abilities of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers they would not crack 8-8. So those hoping the Jaguars sign Tebow are either a) too blind a fan to understand reality or b) they have such a perverse case of schadenfreude that they yearn to hear the death knell of Tebow’s career after what would surely be a miserable season. Lets face it, Jacksonville’s biggest goal this season may be avoiding a tie with the 2008 Detroit Lions while still securing the first pick in the talent-rich 2014 NFL Draft, signing Tebow is not going help elevate those goals at all.
Look, I am not trying to be someone proudly signaling the end of Tebow’s pursuit of an NFL career. While I think he needs to change positions or go to Canada or the Arena League to continue the pursuit of being a QB, I am not the Knight of the Mirrors. Jacksonville GM’s recently affirmed that his regime “are in this for sustainability and the long term,” and neither of those point to Tebow as an answer. Tebow has a bright future in whatever he does post-football, as his ravenous fans have ensured that he will be a commodity to media outlets, but his football future is murky at best and a trip back to Jacksonville is simply not the answer for him or for a rebuilding Jacksonville franchise.