Super ‘Bow Sunday: Jets Still Trying To Trade Tebow – Where Does He Fit In?

  • Joe Levine

It’s no secret that Tim Tebow’s days as a New York Jet are numbered. But the Jets aren’t ready to release the backup quarterback just yet. After a season of downplaying his abilities and not showcasing him in any way, the team hopes to find a trade partner. Somehow, they’re having trouble doing so.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New York hopes to find a team willing to part with a mid/late draft pick for Tebow. You know, in spite of the fact that the Jets will almost certainly cut him and any potential team could just sign him without losing a pick in the process. Solid logic by the Jets, as usual.

The problem for the Jets, and Tebow for that matter, is that there seems to be almost no one interested in taking a chance on him.

Jacksonville was a potential suitor before this season, but their interest has all but disappeared at this point:

“I can’t imagine a scenario in which he’ll be a Jacksonville Jaguar — even if he’s released,” new Jaguars general manager David Caldwell last month.

And this answer from Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis on what he thought about Tebow joining the Jaguars:

“My honest answer?” Lewis said last month. “No, no. I’m going into my eighth year, I’ve had about four or five different quarterbacks … we need a guy that’s going to put us over the hump right now — not a project. Not taking anything away from Tebow, but we need a pure quarterback.”

Fair points. I don’t think anyone would ever call Tebow a pure quarterback.

But isn’t the NFL about winning games? Tebow may not be a prototypical passer, but you can’t say he isn’t a winner, or that he doesn’t give his team an opportunity to win games. If nothing else, he is a prototypical caretaker quarterback.

Let’s just look at the stats.

In Tebow’s last season as a full-time starter (2011-12 with the Denver Broncos), he threw for 1,650 yards and 11 touchdowns against just six interceptions in 11 regular season starts, compiling a 7-4 record. He also ran for 660 yards and six more touchdowns. In two playoff starts, he threw for 452 yards and two touchdowns (and no interceptions) in leading the Broncos to the second round of the playoffs. Granted, Tebow’s completion percentage was 45.8% over the season and playoffs, but the more important statistic is that Denver went to the playoffs and even won a playoff game with Tebow at the helm.

And they were able to do so because Tebow didn’t turn the ball over. With just six interceptions in 308 attempts, Tebow averaged one interception per 51 attempts. For comparison’s sake, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw 19 interceptions in 648 attempts, an average of one interception per 34 attempts. Not that Romo is the model quarterback, but the Cowboys are just one example of several franchises (including San Diego, Detroit, and, well, the Jets) willing to roll the dice with more traditional quarterbacks who also happen to lose games for their team more often than not. The aforementioned teams went a combined 25-39 in 2012. Tebow, again, went 7-4 as a starter for Denver, not including 1-1 in the playoffs.

That isn’t to say that Tebow can do it all by himself. Not by a long shot. As a Bronco, Tebow was undoubtedly helped by his supporting cast, including a 1,000-yard rusher in Willis McGahee. But the Denver defense was a mere 20th in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed, extremely mediocre by all accounts. Funnily enough, Tebow’s current team, the Jets, were 8th in yards allowed and 20th in points allowed, yet finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs. With that kind of defense, you’d think the Jets would have been able to finish closer to .500. But with Mark Sanchez turning the ball over 26 times (18 interceptions and eight fumbles lost), New York simply was too busy beating themselves to beat any of their actual opponents. Imagine how much better the Jets would have been if they weren’t throwing interceptions in the end zone or butt-fumbling for 16 games. Imagine how many games they would have won if they turned the ball over even, say, 16 times instead of 26.

I admit; given the opportunity, Tebow is never going to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. He’ll probably never throw for 3,000 yards. But he’s also never going to turn the ball over almost 30 times in one season and actively lose games for a team. And if you have a top defense that just needs an offense that won’t screw up, Tim Tebow is actually a solid option as caretaker quarterback.

I, for one, hope Tebow does end up on the Cowboys. As a Dallas fan, I would welcome a quarterback that doesn’t choke in the fourth quarter and can actually inspire his teammates while leading him to victory. I’ll settle for pedestrian passing numbers if it means more wins, something Tony Romo doesn’t currently provide.

[Eye On Football]