Happy 316 day! It’s kinda like Pi Day on 314, but this is for Tim Tebow.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Tim Tebow dropped 316 yards against Pittsburgh to lead the Broncos to a home playoff win vs. a Super-Bowl contender from the AFC north (something Peyton Manning fell short of doing in his first year in Denver). Tebow’s amazing feat of upsetting the heavily favored Steelers in the playoffs not only saw the coincendece of his 316 yards passing matching his infamous favorite bible verse, John 3:16, but he also averaged 31.6 yards per completion (and the Steelers time of possesion was 31 minutes, 6 seconds and the overtime game drew a 31.6 TV rating). So March 16 seems like a good point in the offseason to take a look at a guy who should be finding a new NFL home.
After being shipped off to the Jets to not start a single game at QB in New York even though Mark Sanchez struggled (and was benched), Tebow has become expendable and on the brink of slipping out of NFL relevance and our national consciousness and into the anonymous world of clipboard carrying or perhaps the Canadian Football League.
Now his name only comes up in relation to if/when he’s cut from a Jets team that will have Sanchez competing with the likes of David Garrard and possibly other journeyman castoffs from the Kevin Kolb division. Occasionally someone mentions the idea of his returning to North Florida to “push” Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert, or perhaps in a defined backup roll on some other team with an entrenched starter.
These stories never go anywhere, much like his passes, they just sail away or are driven into the ground by those obsessed with talking about Tebow.
The obvious angle never talked about enough is: what about Tebow finally switching positions to some form of H-Back, a FB/TE Slash who can make plays in short-yardage or goal line situations? I guess no analysts will talk about it until Tebow himself indicates, at least privately if not publicly, that he’s ready and willing to switch positions. Even for those of us who discount him as a legitimate option to compete for a starting QB spot, there should still be some consideration and interest in him as a football player, should he finally relent to a change.
Let’s set aside all the alleged intangibles like “he’s a winner” and leadership (though they may also be true). He’s a tough, smart runner. Remember one of the games that put him on the map with Denver was that winning drive at the end against the Jets when he took every snap with an empty backfield, barely threw any passes, and just ran the ball every play down the field vs. an elite defense that knew he was running the ball every time.
He would still be a situational guy, but in a world of 2-TE offenses and pistol formations and zone read option schemes, when fewer teams even carry a true Fullback on their rosters any more, Tebow is worth having from a purely on-the-field standpoint. Even though he’s not much of a threat as a passer, he doesn’t need to be. I wouldn’t ask him to be RGIII or Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, but I would put him next to a guy like that. Hand it off to Tebow straight up the middle as the defense is forced to respect the outside speed of the QB. Direct snap it to Tebow and let him hand off to Percy Harvin while the defense is busy wondering what’s coming next. Put him in as a blocking back in a goal-line situation and give him the quick handoff as the upback, or have him stand next to the QB in shotgun/passing formations in the redzone so defenses will have to respect the delayed draw.
In today’s changing NFL offenses, a versatile player like Tebow (with all his intangibles and personal drive) should be a valuable asset to any team. The “Tebow Circus” only comes to town if he’s brought in as a QB. Signing him strictly as some sort of utility running back would eliminate any threat of a QB controversy (even in a place like Jacksonville).
If Tebow really is the winner and selfless team guy he claims to be, and if he wants to use the platform of professional sports celebrity to promote his faith-based charities or whatever his other pursuits may be off the field, then he’d be best served by instructing his agent to tell teams around the league that Tebow is ready and willing to play any role.
John 3:16 makes reference to a “begotten son” but if Tebow isn’t willing to change positions in the NFL, he become a forgotten one.