Jets QBs coach praises Tim Tebow

Updated: May 16, 2012, 11:34 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tim Tebow continues to receive high praise from the New York Jets assistant coaches who are preparing him for the 2012 season, with the latest compliments coming from quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh gushed about Tebow, the Jets' backup quarterback, in comments published Tuesday by the New York Daily News. That followed his comments in the newspaper on Monday, where he said starter Mark Sanchez suffered from making poor decisions in 2011.

Cavanaugh told the Daily News that he believes Tebow "can be very good."

"I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him over an extended period of time ... not just watching him play on film," he told the newspaper. "I think he's certainly got the arm strength. He has good mechanics. They're getting better every day."

The Jets maintain that Tebow was acquired to be the backup, but his presence, and his enormous popularity, has fueled speculation about Sanchez's job security, his recent contract extension notwithstanding. The Jets acquired Tebow, in part, to run a Wildcat package, but he has taken only quarterback reps in the early stages of the offseason program.

Earlier this month, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said Tebow had made "eye-opening" progress as a passer since he coached the quarterback two years ago in the Senior Bowl, when he was the Miami Dolphins' coach and Tebow was preparing for the NFL draft.

Cavanaugh praised Tebow's work ethic and told the Daily News that he "doesn't let a day go by when he's not focused on trying to get better at something."

His praise of Tebow comes a day after his published comments criticizing Sanchez's decision-making. Sanchez combined for 26 turnovers last season (eight lost fumbles, 18 interceptions).

Sanchez
Tebow
Tebow

"There were turnovers that were not his fault that were credited to him," Cavanaugh told the Daily News. "But there were enough that playing that position he needs to cut some of those down. Most of them came from just poor decision-making."

He said his advice to Sanchez didn't sink in until the Jets' collapse to 8-8 was complete with the team missing the playoffs. He said Sanchez might have been overconfident due to the team's success in his first two seasons, when the Jets reached back-to-back AFC title games.

"The things that we talk about can't be a 'sometimes' thing,' " Cavanaugh told the newspaper. "It's got to be a mentality that you have all the time. It's not something that you just turn on and off. If you're freewheeling on your own a bunch of the time, you may be winning, but at some point it's going to bite you in the rear end. ... I think he understands that now."

The Jets have said Tebow, although listed as the backup quarterback, could see as many as 20 snaps a game, particularly in Wildcat formations. When asked how Sanchez will handle coming off the field in these situations, Cavanaugh said Sanchez shouldn't let it become an issue for him.

"I think any quarterback that plays doesn't want to come off the field," Cavanaugh told the Daily News. "But that's the head coach's decision. Between Rex (Ryan) and Tony Sparano, the offense will be totally set and that will be their plan.

"If you're a really good quarterback, you understand that you want to do what's best for the team. So I don't see it being an issue."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini was used in this report.

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