The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off of a 4-12 season last year and are in the midst of rebuilding their team with plenty of new faces. All eyes will be glued onto first-round draft pick Blake Bortles and his fellow offensive rookies Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson this pre-season. The development of these players will undoubtedly play a huge role in the success or failure of the Jags in 2014. Nonetheless, I would like to offer up a name from the ghost of football’s past that could add an extra dimension to the Jags offense this year: Tim Tebow.
Now before you hit the “X” icon in the top right-hand corner of your web browser, hear me out. I promise not to sound like a Skip Bayless hack by blindly praising a below-average quarterback with a horrific 47.9% career completion percentage. Furthermore, I also promise not to offer the unimaginative and overused argument that Jacksonville’s home attendance is low (28th in the NFL in 2013), and the team needs a major box office draw like their hometown hero Tim Tebow in order to get fans in the seats.
While it has already been proven that Tebow is not a legitimate NFL quarterback, I do believe he can still become a legitimate NFL player if given the right opportunity. Tebow would do very well as a short-yardage/red-zone specialist in wildcat and pistol formations in my opinion. If Tebow was deployed during these unique game situations, his passing limitations wouldn’t be as pronounced because there would be less of the field to survey and less reads to make down-field. If the initial read or secondary read is not available, Tebow would then be able to take advantage of his unique running and improvisational abilities. I am not suggesting that this style of play could be the centerpiece of an offense, but the proper dosage of Tebow during certain parts of the game would give defenses something else to worry about. Jacksonville’s six-foot-six inch tight end Marcedes Lewis could play a prominent role in any Tebow formation since a big target would come in handy when the field spacing is more condensed in these situations.
Furthermore, the loss of star running back Maurice Jones-Drew to Oakland leaves a gaping hole in Jacksonville’s short yardage and red-zone capabilities anyway. Jaguars newcomer Toby Gerhart has scored a grand total of five rushing touchdowns in his four-year NFL career. Meanwhile, Tebow has accounted for 12 rushing touchdowns in his three-year NFL career, and did not even take a single snap in the regular season in 2013.
In my opinion, Tebow’s previous coaching staffs never had the patience to utilize him properly during his brief career in the NFL. In Denver, Tebow was used as a conventional quarterback and enjoyed some initial success before being traded away in favor of Peyton Manning. With the Jets in 2012, Tebow was caught in the middle of a miscommunication between management and the coaching staff because Jets head coach Rex Ryan obviously never wanted Tebow in the first place. In 2013, the Patriots released Tebow in the preseason after he failed to impress as a conventional drop-back passer. There would have been a higher chance of success for Tebow in the NFL if a team was fully committed to using a “Tebow Package” for specific parts of the game. Given the fact that Jacksonville’s short yardage and red-zone options are severely limited as it is, Tebow is worth a look in training camp as far as I’m concerned.
Tebow is a hard working, upstanding citizen who deserves a second chance to make an impact at the NFL level. Granted, he has many factors working against him, including the fact that Tebow himself is on record as saying that he believes he is a legitimate NFL quarterback. Perhaps this past season away from the NFL has given Tebow a chance to re-evaluate himself as a football player. At 26 years old, there is still time for Tebow to salvage an NFL career if he wants it badly enough, just not as an every-down passer.