Timothy Richard Tebow can be called many things. By all accounts, he is a wonderful teammate, a generous philanthropist, and best of all, a winner. He wears many hats, but Tebow has yet to master the art of being an accurate quarterback. Luckily for Jets fans, the front office did not acquire him with the intention of turning him into one. Rather, he is likely to see the majority of his snaps in the wildcat formation, an approach which has the potential to take the Jets offense to a new level. You see, Tim Tebow will probably never help the Jets the way a traditional quarterback would. Instead, his presence alone will allow Gang Green to cover up their biggest hole, a rather gaping rapture that our RT position has become. How can Tim Tebow elevate Wayne Hunter's play? You're going to have to take the jump to find out.
Going into this offseason, acquiring a backup quarterback wasn't high on the priority list for the Jets. Most fans wanted a capable backup in case of an injury to Sanchez, but the Drew Stanton signing seemed to alleviate the need for more quarterbacks, especially due to the presence of an adequate Greg McElroy. Last week, the Jets still lacked an experienced #2 WR, but the absence of a competent RT had to be the most troubling scarcity on the Jets offense. There were not many options in free agency, given that Eric Winston commanded a contract out of the Jets' price range. Drafting a RT is a fine idea, but relying on him to start for day 1 is not. Seemingly out of options to replace Wayne Hunter, the Jets front office did the next best thing: try to conceal him.
How does Tebow play in? Let's rewind a little to Week 13 of last season, a game against the Washington Redskins that the Jets needed to win in order to keep pace in the race for the playoffs. The Redskins were starting Rex Grossman at quarterback, so their offense was hardly intimidating. The Washington pass rush was much more of a concern, featuring studs like Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett was experimenting with rushing both of them from one side, and Wayne Hunter was looking a bit like a sitting duck as the game was approaching. To prevent Mark Sanchez from getting mauled, the coaches had to think of something unconventional, because Wayne Hunter was not going to grow talent overnight and shutout the skilled Washington pass rush. Rather than praying for a miracle, the coaches implemented increased use of the wildcat into the gameplan, and it surprisingly worked like a charm. With the danger of over-pursuing on a direct snap or an option toss, the Redskins pass rushers were forced to freeze for an extra second. Sanchez, who had become accustomed to vicious assaults on the football field, was given time to throw and wasn't sacked all day (one of only two such games this season, the other being against the pass-rush anemic Bufallo Bills). Largely due to the good protection, the Sanchize avoided big mistakes on his way to a solid day: 165 yards and 1 TD on 59.4% completions, with no interceptions. Aside from getting the pass-rush on their toes, running the wildcat proved to be moderately effective on its own. Shonn Greene ran in a direct snap for a touchdown against the Redskins (on a day that the Jets used the wildcat formation seven times), and Jeremy Kerley tossed a 41-yard pass on an option play later in the season. The war-machine and Jeri-Kerl ran the wildcat with decent success, but who better to give those snaps to than Tim Tebow, who has extensive experience and great success in that formation? If the Jets plan to run option plays through Tebow that were originally intended for a running back or a receiver, it would seem to be a good strategy. For all his troubles completing forward passes, not even the harshest critic could claim that Tebow is less likely to complete a pass than Greene or Kerley. If his limited snaps can throw off the defense's rhythm, his addition will benefit Gang Green. If he can complete a few long passes when the defense commits to the run (and he can), it'll just be gravy. Many fans have expressed concerns that Tebow will stunt Sanchez' development because he'll take some of his snaps, but this is not likely. In fact it is much more likely that the two will be on the field together. The wildcat is most effective when it comes as a surprise, and leaving Sanchez on the sideline would defeat that purpose. This might be a little crazy (and probably is), but why not try a 2-quarterback formation for a few plays each game, especially when one of the QBs is essentially a glorified fullback with a decent throwing arm? Imagine the possibilities! Sure, it'd be strange and very unconventional, but this offense will not succeed with Wayne Hunter at RT if they do things by the book. The mere presence of Tebow on the field will slow the pass rush, as defenders would be silly to overcommit when a scramble is ever present. The coaches need to be creative if they hope for the offense to keep up with the defense, or else they're just asking for a repeat of last season. Rex Ryan said it best:
"Tim Tebow is a good football player. Mark Sanchez is a good quarterback"
-Rex Ryan, per Manish Mehta
If that quote is a genuine indication of Ryan's opinion on the two quarterbacks, it is good news for Gang Green fanatics. Tim Tebow could become the ultimate gadget player. Who knows, he might even fix a problem that is seemingly un-fixable: raise Wayne Hunter's play from terrible to passable. As jaded Jets fans, what more could we ask for?