- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Jets like to bill themselves as a transparent organization, but they've become tight-lipped with regard to their plans for Tim Tebow.
When the trade was made in late March, Rex Ryan said they planned to use him in the wildcat offense, later making headlines when he said it could be up to 20 snaps a game. But in recent days, two coordinators -- Tony Sparano and Mike Westhoff -- clammed up when asked about Tebow's role. Even Ryan in recent weeks has been coy when asked about reports that Tebow will be used as a running back, fullback and, possibly, an H-back. The whole thing smacks of irony, considering the Jets' loose-cannon reputation.
Sparano, speaking to reporters last Thursday (his first interview since the trade), went Parcells on us -- perhaps no surprise, considering his mentor is Bill Parcells. Asked to give his vision for Tebow, the offensive coordinator said:
"Well, I won't give you the vision on what I think his role will be in the offense. But I would just say that to the best of my knowledge, I believe that what Coach said is he can play anywhere from one to 20 snaps, somewhere like that. And I would say what Coach said is 100 percent correct. As far as how we'll use Tim or what we'll do with Tim that way, we're going to keep that to us right now."
Westhoff, the longtime special-teams coordinator, is as outspoken as they come. But, in an interview over the weekend with the New York Daily News, he refused to divulge his plan to Tebow. Westhoff called him a "more potent Brad Smith."
What does that mean? Does it mean he'll be returning kickoffs? Hardly. It would make no sense to expose your No. 2 quarterback to injury, asking him to run into 10 frothing tacklers (sorry, the kicker doesn't froth) who'd like nothing better than to make the SportsCenter highlights by taking out Tebow. Plus, the Jets have one of the best kickoff returners in the league, Joe McKnight.
This much we've known: Tebow will be the "personal protector" on the punt team -- a.k.a. the up back. In fact, Westhoff approached Tebow with the idea soon after the trade was finalized, and Tebow was okay with it. Makes sense. In that position, Tebow can receive a direct snap or shift under center, adding wrinkles to the punt team.
Obviously, the Jets think they have a special weapon in Tebow and they'd like to play mind games with their opponents, forcing them to prepare for the unexpected. They will turn Tebow into a shell game, moving him around as discreetly as possible.
Let's call it a clandes-tim approach. Rim shot, please.