I was as shocked as anyone to hear that the Jets were in the running for Tim Tebow. Although it was being reported, no part of me believed that they would actually pull the trigger.
Now that it’s done, I’m equally surprised by the scrutiny that this trade has caused. The detractors include the entire weekday line up of WFAN (Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, Joe Beningo, Evan Roberts and Mike Francesa), much of 1050 ESPN (Michael Kay, Don LaGreca, Stephen A. Smith and others), Jets beat writer Rich Cimini, former Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins and hall of fame Quarterback Joe Namath.
By contrast, those who support the trade are limited in number, and mostly exist outside of the media – former Jets tackle Damien Woody and fellow New York sensation Jeremy Lin. All-world cornerback Darelle Revis sent out a positive tweet about it as well, though as a mouthpiece for the team, that’s expected.
Needless to say, the supporters are heavily outweighed by the detractors. Consequently, few have put forth a coherent argument in defense of the trade. Though I recognize the inherent problems with this situation, I’ll take it on myself to play angel’s advocate. Here are 4 reasons why the Tebow trade may end up being a net positive for the Jets:
1. The Right Fit: If anyone can get the best out of Tim Tebow, it’s Tony Sparano. Fortunately, Tony Sparano just so happens to be the Jets offensive coordinator. Sparano was the head coach of the 2008 Miami Dolphins when they began the wildcat trend in the NFL with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
2. The Wildcat Upside: Tim Tebow is already a more complete passer than Ronnie Brown, and he plenty of room to improve. True, the Jets have to find the right compliment to Tebow (Joe McKnight? Jeremy Kerley? A draft pick?). True, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were immensely talented. Still, due to Tebow’s passing ability, the Jets Wildcat has a higher upside than the Miami Dolphins one had.
3. The Right Price: The negative analysis of this trade has been skewed by several factors: Tannenbaum’s unwillingness to hold onto draft picks, Tebow’s religiosity, Tebow’s cult of personality, and Tebow’s insistence that he can be a traditional NFL quarterback. The problem? None of those factors are relevant. We must analyze this trade on its merits alone.
Here are the facts: the Jets sent a 4th and a 6th round pick to Denver for this player and a 7th round pick. So the only question we must answer is this: is this player and a 7th worth a 4th and a 6th.
The answer is: yes, absolutely. We speak of a player who is: young and has upside. He was a 1st round draft pick. He’s a profoundly gifted athlete. He can play multiple positions. He has no character issues: he’s not going to get in any trouble on or off the field. He’s inspirational. He’s charismatic. He’s a leader. He makes those around him better.
The major criticism he has endured was that he could not play the position he was originally drafted to play in the NFL. Yet we watched him play that position in the NFL last year, and take a team from 1-4 under the reigns of Kyle Orton to a playoff berth and a first round victory against the powerful defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you ignore all of the irrelevant data, would there be any doubt that this player and a 7th round pick are worth the price of a 4th and a 6th? I submit: not a chance.
4. Pushing Sanchez: The acquisition of Tim Tebow will push Sanchez in the right direction. This trade is a message to Sanchez: he must step up and take control of the team.
Jets fans rightfully complained that a 40 year old Mark Brunell wasn’t enough to keep Sanchez on his toes. You know what? They were right. For the first time in his NFL career, Sanchez cannot relax – he must improve, or he isn’t long for this town. If Sanchez does what he’s supposed to do, what he was drafted to do, he should have no reason to worry.
JetNation has heard concerns from many fans that Tebow’s cult of personality from the Florida Gators will end up getting Sanchez unfairly benched. They wrongly compare the Jets situation to the Broncos, but those situations are completely unalike.
Consider: the Broncos were floundering at 1-4 when Orton was benched for Tebow. Does anyone here really expect the Jets to open up 1-4? There’s no reason to suspect that and even if there were, Sanchez’ time in New York would be dwindling down, anyway.
Yet the overall point here is that you have to give the Jets front office more credit than that. Nevermind the chants of thousands of Tebow fanatics, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan will make this decision based on the ramifications for the record of the team.
“But,” you say, “there will be marketing aspects involved. The organization is going to make decisions based on the bottom line – and Tebow is better for the bottom line.”
I reply: what’s best for the bottom line is good football. Business wise, an 11-5 team that makes the playoffs is far superior to an 8-8 team that does not. If Sanchez is winning games, he will play. If he’s not, he won’t be playing for long. Period. And is that not what we want? You play to win the game.