The biggest mystery of the upcoming season is how the New York Jets will use Tim Tebow. The team has been silent about their plans for the former Heisman trophy winner. A lot of information is being leaked out, but it is usually about Tebow and Mark Sanchez having dinner together. We all know that he is non-controversial and will not complain about being a backup to Sanchez. He is a great competitor and would love to start, but he will not admit that to the media.
New offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, brought back the Wildcat formation when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Does Sparano have another innovative package to unleash in 2012?
Tim Tebow has not put on a helmet in four months, yet you hear his name everyday on ESPN. I’m sure that head coach Rex Ryan, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, and Sparano are getting tired of answering the same questions. It would be stupid of them to tell the media about the role that Tebow will play this season. Cavanaugh told the New York Daily News that Tebow is improving everyday. He is focused on having consistent footwork and improving his rhythm in the pocket.
In 2008, Sparano didn’t even hint about his Wildcat package until it was put into action against the New England Patriots. The Dolphins used the wildcat package six times and scored five touchdowns in that formation. They went on to beat New England 38-13 and won the AFC East division by going 11-5. The formation was duplicated across the league and defenses soon figured out a way to stop its effectiveness and it died out. Sparano will need to design a package that he can morph and mold, so defenses can’t catch up to it so quickly.
Last season, the Jets admitted that were missing the x-factor that Brad Smith brought to their team. He signed with the Buffalo Bills before last season. They ran an option called the “tigercat”, in which he mostly ran out of the backfield. Smith rarely passed the ball out of the package, which makes having Tebow a better fit for a similar package. Safeties started to play inside the box against Smith’s package, but Tebow is a better passer. The defense will not be able to predict as much, since Tebow will pass at a higher percentage and keep the defense guessing.
I have kept an eye on the Jets’ draft picks and free agent signings. All signs point towards the Jets using Tebow in an exaggerated option package. The biggest sign was drafting running back Terrance Ganaway in the sixth-round. His familiarity with an option-style offense he played at Baylor makes him a perfect running back to lineup in the backfield.
In Denver, Tebow was most effective in the red zone. If he was inside the ten line, he was automatic and scored touchdowns. Last year, the duo of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson lacked the size to move piles. John Conner, aka The Terminator, is a fantastic blocking back, but he was even rendered useless in the red zone.
What would a “Tebow package” look like? The Jets have said that fans should expect Tebow to be in about 20 plays per game. Sparano has made this priority number one, so expect some elaborate plays from the Jets. Tebow could line up at either quarterback, fullback or tight end, expect the unexpected. He could benefit from playing in a triple option with Greene and Ganaway, which would take a lot of practice and precision from the offensive line to pull that off. He could even line up at a running back in a pro set. If that happens, he could flank out on a screen and be thrown a backwards pass. His down-the-field accuracy is sketchy at best, but he could get lucky and catch the secondary asleep.
We can only guess on how Tebow will be used on the Jets. He is an average quarterback, but if an offense is built around him, he could be great. The skills that he has as a quarterback are the skills that Sanchez lacks. Tebow is a strong leader and has intangibles that can turn a broken play into a first down. I’m not saying that that Jets don’t follow Sanchez, but Tebow has the kind of charm and passion for the game that very few players can match. They are both handling this situation pretty well so far, so they must have something under their sleeves.
A lot has to happen in order for the Jets to pull off this Tebow experiment. I am excited to watch the Jets this season and I have never said that in my life.
Lastly, I leave you with a little eye candy for the ladies…shirtless pictures of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. I have posted half-naked photos of Kate Upton, Brooklyn Decker, and Christina Hendricks, so I kind of owe them. (I apologize to the older demography for not posting any shirtless photos of Joe Namath)