A few months ago when the Jets acquired quarterback Tim Tebow from the Broncos, former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann proffered that the Jets would now be a three-ring circus.
In deference to Theismann, considering the drama usually surrounding coach Rex Ryan’s team, the arrival of Tebow has created a circus that has run out of rings.
Now, as the regular season approaches, the “noise” will become a cacophony. It was ramped up this week when Boomer Esiason joined the fray. Co-host of the Boomer & Carton show on WFAN Radio, the longtime NFL quarterback and CBS-TV analyst, said, “I’m just telling you right now, I would (cut Tebow), and I’ll tell you why I would. It’s not in any way, shape, or form — I think — benefiting this team.
“All you have to do is watch him throw the ball. Just watch him. … You can say whatever you want about Tim Tebow. He played some of the worst football that any quarterback has ever played in the history of the game last year, at times.”
Blind Tebow supporters often default to the “He’s a winner,” argument, conveniently forgetting that the Broncos were 8-5 last season and lost their final three games of the season. The season finale was a desultory 7-3 loss to Kansas City at home in which Tebow completed 6-of-22 passes for 60 yards with an interception and a 20.6 passer rating. He also rushed six times for 16 yards. A winner indeed.
Considering what is likely to happen the first time starter Mark Sanchez throws an interception or has a poor game, Esiason concluded, “I just think this whole thing — at least from my perspective right now — in relation to who Mark Sanchez is, your starting quarterback, is a major mistake.”
Naturally, Tebow was asked about Esiason’s comments, and first said, “I’ve heard nothing but great things about Mr. Esiason. I know he was a great player here, and I just wish him nothing but the best in his announcing and God bless him.”
When asked about Esiason’s specific critique of his passing ability, Tebow said, “I’ve pretty much heard a lot of it. From when I was in high school, when they said I couldn’t be a high school quarterback, when I was in college and my first year they told me ‘you’ll never play quarterback,’ and then, ‘you can never win a championship,’ and ‘you’ll never play in the NFL.’
“I’ve heard a lot of it and I just continue to use that as motivation and when I get my opportunities, try to make the most of them, just be the person that I am and not let that get me too excited or too down, but just be who I am and
go out there and work as hard as I can every day and try and improve and be the best football player/quarterback that I can be.”
Of course, the reason he has heard those comments is because they are accurate. His completion percentage last season was a dismal 46.5
A few days after Esiason’s comments, Fox analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long was a guest on Esiason’s show and said, “I wouldn’t have brought him in. When Tim Tebow comes, he comes with great distraction. I’m not a fan of the HBO series (Hard Knocks). I think it’s entertaining, but I think it gives the outside world access and distracts your football team. Tim Tebow has that kind of impact on a football team.
“The round-the-clock, 24-hour-a-day coverage that the Jets are getting on every throw … every down and distance, red zone, that Tebow takes snaps from the punt team, I think it distracts from your football team and your focus. And it’s a good Jets football team that could contend for a Super Bowl.”
Concluding the story, at least for this week, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was asked if he could envision Tebow playing half the game Friday night when the Jets open the preseason at Cincinnati. That led Sparano to a monologue that touted how much he has improved this summer.
Sparano said, “I don’t know. I learned a long time ago that these preseason games don’t go according to script all of the time, so for me to tell you that yes, this guy is going to play this much and that guy is going to play that much, that would be a mistake because then the next time I came in front of you, you would say, ‘coach Sparano said he would do this and he didn’t do that.’ It is not my first rodeo.
“I would say the improvements that he made since the start of this, you are not going to see them necessarily but I see them quite a bit in that his identification of fronts, his identification of coverages, going through progressions, he did that today out there, went through progressions and made a couple of good throws out there. I think the ball every day is coming off of his hands a lot better. He is getting some of the quick game stuff out faster, which is something they had not done a whole lot with him in the past. I see improvements from the guy every day. I think (quarterbacks coach) Matt Cavanaugh has done a good job with him that way and every day he continues to push the envelope that way and our defense helps us do that because we don’t sit here and script plays to have success against our defense.
“We try to challenge our rules. I think that is important. I want the players to understand that the rules take care of a lot of this and then we worry about game-planning down the road when we get to Buffalo. They are starting to figure that out and in order to do that, the quarterbacks have to get us into the right scheme on every snap and Tim has been able to do that better and better every single day.”