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|Tim Tebow's career with the New York Jets started impressively, with much fanfare and a March news conference that seemed to suggest big plans for a big impact player.|
Not Tebow, the former first-round pick, for whom the Jets gave Denver a fourth and a sixth. McElroy. No way Rex wanted to give Tebow two full-game chances at season's end to make him look like a fool for not playing Tebow much earlier. It was shameful the way Ryan and very offensive coordinator Tony Sparano used and misused Tebow. But the joke ultimately was on them. The Jets' season kept BEGGING for Tebow to save it, just like he turned around last year's Broncos from 1-4 to division champs who beat Pittsburgh and its No. 1-ranked defense in a playoff game. Yet by the week Ryan grew more stubbornly proud, began to resent the media monster he'd created by hyping Tebow and dug in with HIS quarterback, the one he called "The Sanchise." He kept treating Tebow like a publicity stunt instead of giving him a chance to save the job Rex might lose. Playoff-missing justice finally prevailed. In the offseason, Tebow did exactly what his new coach asked, gaining more than 10 pounds so he could ramrod Rex's "ground and pound" rushing attack. Ever the coach's dream, Tebow embraced the role of punt protector. Yet he made these sacrifices because Rex, while recruiting Tebow, led him to believe he would get a fair and square shot at beating out Sanchez. Sorry, kid. It soon became clear Rex was merely placating the media and fans by running in Tebow for the often inexplicably random play at quarterback & which often served only to discombobulate Sanchez. Worse, Rex/Sparano rarely let Tebow do what he does best: run the college spread option, which allows him to "ride and decide" with the running back next to him in the shotgun. Give it, fake it, keep it, step back and throw it to a wide-open receiver as the safeties cheat up to stop the run. That attack quickly turned Denver into the NFL's No. 1 running team last year and helped it control the ball and clock and protect what, in the end, was the NFL's 26th-ranked scoring defense. Yet it almost seemed like Rex didn't want Tebow to do anything that might ignite the team and fans and a media frenzy. It almost felt like Rex/Sparano were sabotaging or at least handicapping Tebow by merely snapping it to him in an empty backfield -- no running back to fake to -- and having him bulldoze straight ahead into the teeth of the defense for a couple of yards. The one downfield pass I can remember Tebow getting to throw -- without the benefit of a safety-freezing fake -- came in the fifth game, on Monday night at home against Houston, down 7-0 mid-first quarter. In came Tebow for no apparent reason and -- what?! -- took the shotgun snap, stepped back and let fly a sweet deep ball. As anyone who watched Tebow's performance against Pittsburgh in last year's playoffs can attest, his best passes are deeper passes. Rex even raved during last spring's minicamp about what an underrated deep thrower Tebow is. In the second quarter of that playoff game in Denver, Tebow completed four passes of 20 or more yards. A quarterback who "can't throw" somehow wound up last season with 14 TD passes to only six interceptions. But that one downfield pass this season was aimed at a newly signed receiver named Jason Hill, who would last only four games with the Jets. The pass appeared to go right through his hands and bounce off his face mask incomplete. That was the passing highlight for a Tim Tebow who last season, in the final five minutes of games, led all quarterbacks in QBR. Brady, Brees, Rodgers -- led 'em all late in games in the most telling quarterback stat. Heading into that Houston game, the Jets had fallen to 2-2 thanks to the 34-0 visit the 49ers had just paid them. They would've been 1-3 if Miami kicker Dan Carpenter hadn't missed a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter and a 48-yarder to win in overtime. If Rex had given Tebow the shot he deserved on that Monday night, the Jets would've won that game and made the playoffs, even without their best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, and their best receiver, Santonio Holmes. That's just what Tebow does. Rex watched it happen right under his upturned nose in Denver as Tebow's offense went 95 late-game yards in 12 plays to beat a defense WITH Revis. So did Sparano, as Miami's head coach, when Tebow, in his first make-or-break start for the Broncos, led them from behind by throwing two touchdown passes and running for a two-point conversion in the final 2:44. Heck, Tebow even managed to make big clutch plays this season as the lowly punt protector. Three times he called for and converted fake punts, one by pass and two by runs. Yet is it possible that Rex/Sparano fell into the same camp trap that new coach John Fox and new GM John Elway did the preseason before in Denver? They had inherited Tebow from the fired coach, Josh McDaniels, who had traded up to take him with the 25th overall pick. They were obviously stunned to find what those who knew Tebow's game knew all too well: He can be a hit-and-miss practice player without the sharpest football mind. Denver starter Kyle Orton was shaming Tebow in no-rush camp passing drills, just as Sanchez did last August. Reportedly, the new Broncos regime demoted Tebow to fourth string. But if you give him a chance in real games ...
|This is what the New York Jets' sideline will look like for the last two games of the 2012 season.|