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Mar
23
2012

New York Jets Trade for Tebow Reeks of Desperation

Tim Tebow to the Jets: Desperate signing or shrewd personnel decision?

Imagine if you will, that Luke Skywalker opted to join the dark side rather than toss the emperor over that railing in Return of the Jedi. Unthinkable right?

That mindbending scenario is pretty close to the one that unfolded these last two days concerning Tim Tebow and the New York Jets.

Tebow, who lost his starting job with the Denver Broncos when they signed Peyton Manning, had become the topic of  intense trade talk this week. So no one was shocked that Tebow was traded. But the Jets? What’s next, Taylor Swift joins Wu Tang Clan?

It seems like a match made in…..well forgive me for not wanting to go there.  Let me put it this way, the trade seems destined for disaster.

The team is already a favorite target of the media.  New York is the center of the universe after all, and within that hub of media magnetism the Jets go out of their way to invite attention and controversy.

Rex Ryan is the bombastic and foul mouthed coach who is never short with a quote, or a diss of an opponent. Many Jets players follow their coach’s lead and come off as arrogant divas, and their franchise quarterback’s underwhelming performances have invited locker room drama.

Now add a quarterback to that mix whose image contradicts in every possible way what I have just described, and who brings with him the largest and most loyal fan base in the NFL. Can you say powder keg?

The Jets PR man already deserves a medal. I can just imagine the overtime he will log after Ryan is asked for the trillionth time why Tebow is not starting. It will happen, and not just to the coach. Every Jets player will be asked about Tebow and for their sakes I hope they have taken refresher courses in media relations.

On the surface Tebow and the Jets go together like oil and water, but there are other issues that make the signing even more inexplicable. Such as why the Jets feel they need Tebow. They just signed Mark Sanchez to an extension last week and they also signed Drew Stanton, an effective back up with the Detroit Lions for the past four years, to be his backup. Stanton is from Michigan, played college football at Michigan State, and was firmly established in the community. His only reason for leaving Detroit was to pursue a starting gig.

I find it hard to believe he would have signed with the Jets if he knew they were in the market for another quarterback. So now the Jets have an angry back-up and a confused starting quarterback who doesn’t know if his team is committed to him or is just waiting for him to fail so they can launch the Tebow-era.

To me, the signing makes no sense from a personnel standpoint. So let’s consider the move from an another perspective.

New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano had some success running the wildcat formation during his tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Tebow’s signing could be an attempt to recreate that success. Here’s the problem. The wildcat is not a new thing. Yes, Miami had success when they sprung it on the league a couple years ago, but just like anything in the NFL, teams will figure it out. There is no guarentee that the wildcat will have a huge impact with or without Tebow.

Again I go back to Stanton. He is basically Tebow-lite. In fact, he is probably a better passer. I have to think that the wildcat was on the Jets’ minds when they signed him too.

I might be cynical, but I’m inclined to think the Jets brought Tebow to town for one reason. They were desperate to rehab their image and grab the headlines away from their historic rivals, the New York Giants.

The Jets do not want to be the Giants’ little brother in New York anymore. The teams are bitter rivals on the field and off. They battle for wins and for fans. To the Jets, Tebow’s presence could vault them ahead of the G-men in the race for local and national relevance. The prize being an increased fan base and more revenue.

Last season, the Jets fell apart down the stretch and their loss to the Giants on December 24th was a big part of that. They were supposed to vie for the AFC championship, but instead they failed to make the playoffs.  They did not go quietly into the night either. Players threw each other under the bus and blame was thrown around like confetti. The result was a lockerroom as toxic as Chernobyl and an image shift from a tough defensive-minded team of underdogs to one of arrogant and back-stabbing divas.

The Jets believe Tebow can act like Mr. Clean and magically erase the dirt and grime that has accumulated around them.

On the contrary, I think they have set themselves up for potential disaster. They are inviting more controversy, and the media scrutiny on the team, and Sanchez in particular, will be even more intense. Just as in Denver, his mere presence encourages fans and media to speculate. Constant comparisons will be made between Tebow and Sanchez and other players will get caught up in the media firestorm.

Caught in the middle is Tebow, who undoubtedly just wants to play football and has no desire to become the new face of the franchise. He will be a good teammate and he will keep his mouth shut.  He will not embarrass the franchise as several Jets have.

Regardless, the signing of Tebow was a move the Jets did not need to make. They are surely getting a good player and someone that can provide an example of professionalism and leadership to a team that needs one. But leaders are not assigned they are chosen. The Jets will have to decide to heed Tebow’s example.

If that happens it could lead to great things, as we saw in Denver last year. If they do not, the Jets will likely need Fireman Ed to put out more than a couple fires next year.

Christopher Madden thinks the Jets are insane. He also writes for TheFanManifesto. Follow us on twitter, please. 

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