He’s taken criticism whether it was due or not. He’s followed along with short-sighted plans that were about other people cashing in his popularity rather than him personally succeeding. He’s lived in storylines and speculation without a real chance to go out and disprove his detractors all year long.
But even Tebow had enough this week, when Jets coach Rex Ryan decided to finally bench Mark Sanchez — in favor of third-stringer Greg McElroy. Now Tebow, who was brought in to New York on what most people thought was one big, misguided publicity stunt, is finally pushing back against the company line. He is reportedly ready to ask to be traded or released if the Jets continue to show that they are not serious about using him as a quarterback.
At this point, asking to go is what Tebow should do, and it shouldn’t be perceived as any kind of insubordination. The great debate surrounding Tebow when he came into the NFL was whether he could succeed as a quarterback, and that was his role when he started building his passer resume in Denver. What the Jets have done, however, is turn Tebow into a mix of a running back, blocker and all-around headline-grabber. All of those roles may fit Tebow, but that’s not what he signed up to do, and that’s not what he — or his fans — are going to be content with him doing.
So, after one poorly managed season, the Jets need to make a decision. They can’t have another year of the Tebow circus, no matter how much owner Woody Johnson likes the attention. They’ve wrung all they can out of that scenario. It’s time to either use Tebow as the quarterback that so many people think he can be, or to pass him off to another team that can do the same.
It’s not a bad scenario for the Jets. The team can certainly get value — and much-needed cap space — back for Tebow at this point. And with Tebow pushing the team to do the right thing, pulling the plug on the current situation should be an easy pivot at this point.
But there’s good reason to think that the Jets are going to drag their feet and try to make this work one more time. They could even try Tebow as a conventional quarterback for a bit.
That would be a big mistake. And if the Jets can’t be stopped from making more big mistakes, then Tebow has to press. He can’t be content to get a mea culpa from the Jets and more promises for next season. He must push to be traded or released.
The Jets lost all chances of Tebow being more than a one-year figure in New York this season as they played the different scenarios down to their last breaths. Tebow flopped in the little wildcat plan that the team had promised was the focus all along. He went out and blocked and ran his option plays, but it was obvious that those setups weren’t best for the team. Worst yet, as the season went on and Tebow couldn’t step up as the trick pony that the Jets were trying to make him to be (when they were committed to that plan, that is), he lost the trust of his teammates. The Jets needed Tebow to lead with his personality and winning spirit, but instead he spent the season looking inept and losing any confidence his teammates had in him.
To regain the qualities that made him a decent NFL player at one point, Tebow needs a new organization. The key word there is organization — he needs to play for a team that is somewhat organized and tries to at least think things through. Tebow needs to play for a coach who knows how to direct him and use his skills, and he needs to do it in a place that is comfortable with the attention he brings and can use it in a way that is best for a team.
The Jets were never equipped to develop Tebow. They were set up to exploit him, and they have sucked everything out of the situation that could be expected considering their haphazard planning. Now that Tebow knows the game is up and is signaling that he won’t just take it on the chin anymore, the Jets need to give Tebow a chance somewhere else. Whether he succeeds or not continues to be anyone’s guess, but he has to be given another chance to run a team from the quarterback spot, and it’s better for both him and the Jets if that’s not in New York.
Tebow will take his lumps and be “excited” about every new opportunity he gets. But sometimes, even the good soldier has to tell psychotic sergeant that the game is up.