If Shad Khan has told his football “people,” namely Gene Smith, to get quarterback Tim Tebow, (and there are rumors that he has), how do they make that work?
To begin with, that puts Smith in a spot where he’ll have to eventually make a tough decision: swallow hard, stay with the Jaguars and go get Tim Tebow no matter that he doesn’t think it’s the right football move or eventually give up his job as GM because the owner is making the personnel decisions anyway.
Maybe it’s not as cut and dried as that but certainly there’s plenty on intrigue and a full domino effect going on in Jacksonville and around the league now that Peyton Manning is in Denver and the Broncos have decided to make Tim available.
If the deal involves a 5th round pick, it’s almost a no-lose situation for the Jaguars. While they never want to part with draft picks, a fifth rounder is a small price to pay for a bona fide hometown hero who is a feel-good acquisition with tremendous public relations upside.
He’s not the football player the Jaguars want at this point. They’re building a team with an offense that employs a strategy a pocket passer can flourish in. For all of the good things Tim does, he’s not that.
So let’s say they go get Tebow at the right price (assuming that he actually wants to come here). So then what? After all the PR dies down, and the ticket sales level off (possibly as many as 6,000 new season ticket holders claim they’ll buy tickets just to see Tim in a Jaguars uniform) it’ll come down to football and competition.
And that’s a very cold hearted, calculated business.
Tebow was put in the lineup last year for Denver not because he had beaten out Brady Quinn for the backup job or Kyle Orton as the starter but because the team started 1-5 and needed something different. Broncos head coach John Fox simplified the offense, changed the game plan and Tim helped the team get to a .500 record and a win in the playoffs. He didn’t display any superhuman quarterback talents and in fact, in just about every statistical category he was substandard to the average quarterback in the league. But he provided a spark across his team and grabbed the attention of a lot of non-football fans, so much so that every late night talk show and even Saturday Nigh Live featured Tim in some form or fashion.
And the Broncos won games.
But one time through just over half of the schedule doesn’t solidify anybody in the NFL where you constantly have to prove your worth on the field. Tebow does have all of the intangibles you want in any athlete competing at the highest level but, as the Patriots showed in the second round of the NFL playoffs, that doesn’t always mean victory.
Tim would join the roster as the third-string quarterback for the Jaguars behind Blaine Gabbert and newly acquired Chad Henne. Based on Gabbert’s lack of production and Henne’s newness, he’d be given a chance to compete and at the end of training camp let’s say he’s still the 3rd string quarterback. He’s not happy with that and certainly his fans wouldn’t be either. But again, it’s a cold and calculated business.
New Head Coach Mike Mularkey would be in a very tough spot knowing that every incompletion, interception, stalled drive or loss on the scoreboard would bring out the chants of “Tee-Bow” from part of the crowd.
So here’s the solution. Keeping three quarterbacks is no big deal in the NFL. If Gabbert progresses they way they hope, they build the offense around what he and Henne can do. But they have a change of pace 10-15 play offensive package that takes advantage of Tebow’s skills and most importantly, gives the Jaguars the best chance to win.
It’s unconventional, but sometimes that’s the thing that works in the league. Any offense that takes the ball out of Maurice Jones Drew’s hands too often isn’t smart, but adding another dimension with a lot of upside could be a game changer for the Jaguars.
Or it could get everybody fired.
Then what? Start over?