Governor Chris Christie ecstatically welcomed him to New Jersey. The Daily News had the Statue of Liberty in his famous stance. His legion of fans were ready to take New York by storm.
Tim Tebow, coming off a surprise season where he relieved Kyle Orton in Denver and led the Broncos to a playoff overtime victory, was now a Jet. Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum helped complete the trade – giving Denver a 4th and 6th round pick – and putting the Jets right back in the forefront with the second consecutive sports story to knock the standing Super Bowl Champion Giants off the covers.
Tebowmania was here.
So was the end of the Jets season. We just didn’t know it yet.
The trade had immediate issues before it could even be completed. The Broncos and Jets went immediately into more discussions when it was determined a bonus had not been assigned to the correct team. What resulted was the first of many issues that would come from the Tebow Era – the Jets would be stuck with an extra $2.5 million.
But Tebowmania was now here. The highest profile backup QB in the NFL was here!
Wait, you say backup? That’s right, the Jets still had Mark Sanchez. And yes, the same Mark Sanchez that just went through the Peyton Manning chase that set off the Tebow trade. As a result of that failure, the Jets felt they needed to “make-good” with Sanchez and gave him a $40.5M extension, including $20.5 in guarantees over the next two years (more on this later).
And now, the Jets completely undone anything that extension may have tied up. They didn’t just bring in a player, but a cult of Tebow with a legion of fans. Millions of fans that would want to see Sanchez’s backup and would call out his name whenever they have an opportunity. The guy Tannenbaum called “our guy” would now have an unprecedented amount of people calling for the other guy.
Not to mention, the Jets players would all watch as everyone paid attention to a backup. No leader on this team would be the stronger word-of-mouth than Tebow. For a backup. A team coming off the struggles and controversies of 2011, now had a new source of contention in the locker room, instead of working to eliminate them.
But of course, this could all be fine. The Jets had a plan, right?
Gang Green brought in a new offensive coordinator in the off-season, finally jettisoning Brian Schottenheimer. They decided on former Dolphins head coach, Tony Sparano. And what luck this was – the guy who most famously used the wildcat to supplement the signing of Chad Pennington and get to the playoffs now had the ultimate Wildcat player in Tebow.
They would know how to use him. They would have a fine plan constructed to prevent anyone from thinking Tebow was just a QB sitting there to replace Sanchez?
The preseason was filled with two consistencies, no offense whatsoever when Sanchez was in the game, and no Wildcat at all when Tebow was in. What a start for the Sparano era.
But no, Rex Ryan calmed us, the preseason was nothing. They had secret Tebow packages ready for opening day.
While the offense actually showed up opening day, the Tebow package did not. The Jets new Punt Protector, yes, two draft picks for a punt protector, had five carries for 11 yards, and many seemingly random insertions into the game that only helped to continuously ruin their quarterback’s momentum.
That theme would continue all season. The Jets, who defended the trade to its death, had no plan at all for Tebow. They brought him in with promise and did nothing with him.
Meanwhile, as some predicted, Sanchez eventually struggled. The presence of Tebow was not one of the top reasons for it, but it was the second of many moments where the Jets never quite got the most important position in football ready.
They twice tried to replace Sanchez. They spent tons of money on a backup QB with no plan to use him to supplement Sanchez. They never went out and spent equal money on weapons for Sanchez, his receiving corps having the requisite Chaz’s and Clyde’s, but they were some of his top receivers. In fact, they left $7M on the table, something you can never do in the cap era.
And now we are here with the most stunning example of how Tebow never became any sort of positive for the Jets this year: They finally benched Sanchez, and who did they go to? Tebow? Nope – 7th round pick, Greg McElroy.
In a slap to the face of Tebow, who came to the Jets thinking that if Sanchez ever struggled, he would be the option, instead got passed over for a guy with barely over 20 yards thrown in his career.
So now were in the end. The Sanchez or Tebow talks have fallen by the wayside with the answer being neither. Talks are that Sanchez could be traded or released; same with Tebow. Sanchez is a shocker, but something that could happen to any team that may have made a mistake.
Tebow is a mistake squarely on the Jets. They could have had a plan, but who knows if that would have worked. Instead, they had nothing. No clue. Not even a desire from their head coach to get him.
Just another sign of what this team is: disarray, no plan, no idea. As we look back on this season, Tim Tebow will be yet another sign of the dysfunction that was the 2012 New York Jets.