By Rick Rockwell
On April 18th, Tim Tebow was named to TIME magazine’s annual list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. Despite the prominent tribute from TIME Magazine, and the numerous other accolades, there’s a huge question that the diehard New York Jets fans and the Tebow critics still want answered. Can Tim Tebow be influential in helping the Jets win football games?
On March 22nd, the Jets shocked the football world, and their rabid fan base, by trading for the polarizing QB who was coming off a season where he rallied a franchise, a city, and his fans to an improbable playoff run. There were dramatic comebacks, magical moments, countless smiles, leaping tall buildings with a single bound and “Tebowing”, which ultimately resulted in a national craze known as “Tebow Mania”.
However, despite his incredible popularity and unfathomable success, the Denver Broncos didn’t waste any time shipping Tebow off to the Jets after they had won the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. Many of the players for the New York Jets were baffled because prior to the trade for Tebow, the Jets gave starting QB Mark Sanchez a contract extension to appease Sanchez after the team had flirted with the idea of signing Peyton Manning. The trade for Tebow seemed to contradict this contract extension.
Jets management quickly assured Sanchez and the fans that Mark would still be the starter. The management also declared that Tebow would be the backup QB and have special plays designed for him. Unfortunately, the trade had ruffled some feathers and a quarterback controversy looms on the horizon like a thunderstorm.
Many media outlets and NFL analysts immediately declared that this Tebow trade was a negative transaction for the Jets because of the potential for a future quarterback controversy. The “odds makers” in Las Vegas also subscribed to this way of thinking as they significantly moved the odds of the Jets winning Super Bowl 42 in an unfavorable direction. In other words, they don’t see Tebow helping the Jets win football games.
On February 6th, the day after Super Bowl 41, the New York Jets opened at 20 to 1 odds for winning Super Bowl 42. However, in the days following the Tebow trade in late March, the odds of the Jets winning Super Bowl 42 moved to 25 to 1 odds. Less than one month after the trade, and about 1 week before the NFL 2012 Draft, the Jets are currently listed at 29 to 1 odds for winning the Super Bowl in 2013. Conversely, the Broncos sit at 14 to 1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, which is a dramatic improvement from opening at 50 to 1 odds roughly 10 weeks ago.
The NFL schedule makers didn’t do the Jets any favors either. New York will face four playoff teams from 2011 in their first seven games (Pittsburgh, Houston, San Francisco and New England). Additionally, four of the first eight games are against divisional foes Buffalo, New England and Miami. Last season, the Jets went 3-3 in their divisional games. Unfortunately for the Jets, the Patriots and the Bills both improved. In fact, many experts believe the Bills will leapfrog the Jets as the one team to give the Patriots a challenge for the AFC East Division title.
With a tough schedule, erratic play from Sanchez last season, and a looming quarterback controversy, the national media is already making predictions for when Tebow will take over the starting job. There’s a good chance that the Jets could start the season 1-4 or 0-5. If so, then I see the Jets making the QB switch for week 6 and giving Tim Tebow the start at home versus the Indianapolis Colts. This would give the team some time to gel before the New England Patriots come to town in week 7. The Jets don’t have a bye until week 9, which is too far into the season to make a switch from Sanchez to Tebow. Thus, Sanchez has a great deal of pressure to perform as soon as the season starts.
But even if the Jets make the switch, does that mean the team can turn around their season under Tebow’s command? Most critics say that it would take a “Broadway miracle” for Tebow to turn things around. Fortunately for Jets fans, Tebow is a “miracle worker” and all you have to do is look no further than to his performance last season. The Broncos were 1-4 before Tebow became the starter. Tim went 7-4 as the starter, won the AFC West Division and scored an upset victory in the first round of the playoffs.
Tebow has been a winner at all levels in football. At the University of Florida, Tebow led the school to two BCS national titles and won the Heisman trophy in 2007 as a sophomore. As a senior, he led his high school team to a 13-2 record which ranked them 3rd in the state of Florida and 66th in the nation. He finished his senior season with over 3,300 yards passing, over 1,100 yards rushing, and 52 total touchdowns. He left high school after setting state records for career yards passing and touchdown passes.
Regardless if Tebow is an unconventional quarterback, he is still a productive winner with a knack for comebacks. Tebow can help the Jets win, especially if he becomes the starter. However, I would avoid picking the Jets to win the Super Bowl next year. Some miracles are better left to the man that Tebow professes his faith in.