By Kristian Dyer
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There are no shades of grey, just black and white, when it comes to New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. You are either a sinner or a saint, an angel or a demon when his name is mentioned. To tiptoe between both sides is to essentially trample the middle ground of the game’s most controversial player.
He is of course nearly as big as the NFL, a player who very much transcends the game as much for what – and how – he does on the field as “who” he is off of it. The born-again Christian, the son of missionary parents who promised him to God’s service while he was yet in the womb, the halo over his very being seems to polarize and perhaps taint opinion. But as much as fans debate his orthodoxy and outspoken testimony, it is his unorthodox playing style that inspires little faith in his future in the NFL.
Running out of the option and occasionally passing, Tebow turned the 1-4 Broncos last year into a team that finished strong, a string of improbable comebacks lifting to Denver to an 8-8 finish and the AFC West title. They beat Pittsburgh at home in the wild card round of the playoffs before the heaven-sent quarterback and his team were brought down to earth the following week in Foxboro in a playoff blowout.
There’s no debating that Tebow wins and no debating that it doesn’t fit the norm in the NFL; of this both sides will agree. Either you think he has a future in the NFL as a starting quarterback or you don’t – no middle ground exists. To wonder if the Jets made the right move last week to trade a fourth and sixth round pick for the run-first quarterback isn’t to question his ability to start, his skill set or whether he is even good at all.
It is to question the Jets for making the move.
This is, after all, a team just six months removed from public sniping at the status of the offense. Wide receivers going into private meetings with head coach Rex Ryan and doing so over the head of their offensive coordinator; offensive linemen sniping at said receivers and everyone publicly voicing support for quarterback Mark Sanchez. It was a mess, and now Tebow is being thrown into this mess.
If Santonio Holmes thought he didn’t get enough of the ball last year, then how will the temperamental wide receiver feel about Tebow’s Wildcat package getting up to 20 snaps a game, at the expense of the passing game most likely? It is the recipe for disaster.
Over two weeks ago, the Jets handed the keys of the team to their “Sanchise,” inking Sanchez to a five-year contract with over $24 million in guaranteed money. That’s top 10 quarterback money for someone whose completion percentage is mired in the mid-50’s following a season where his interception numbers were up over the year before and his confidence down to a career low.
So to bring in Tebow, a quarterback who beat out the established Kyle Orton last year and went on to start 11 regular season games and two in the playoffs, now creates a quarterback controversy where a week ago there wasn’t one. Sanchez isn’t perfect, he isn’t even ideal, but when you throw that type of money and make that kind of a commitment to him it is difficult now to bring in competition to supplant him.
And while it is painfully obvious that the Jets made this trade with PSL’s and jersey sales in mind, it is also clear that Tebow won’t be content to be Sanchez’s backup for too long. The first time Sanchez throws an interception or fails to make his progression, a fan base already coiled and calibrated to jeer him will spring into life, demanding Tebow start.
With that, another distraction is born.
It’s not that the trade doesn’t make sense on the field, especially since the Jets employed the Wildcat with moderate success during Ryan’s first two years in New York with Brad Smith, now of the Bills as the gimmick. But Smith was not and is not Tebow neither in skill or stature and he never created a quarterback controversy.
Now, there’s one in New York, and it is the type of thing that can prematurely cost a general manager his job or send a head coach packing.
A fiasco is set to unfold in Florham Park and perhaps, a divided locker room. The personnel and the personalities that comprise this roster are all wrong for a Tebow, and he is all wrong for them. It has nothing to do with him or if he’s good enough or even if he can start in the league which he clearly can. But it has everything to do with the 52 other men he will take the field with every Sunday. The turmoil of last year is perhaps good preparation for what will unfold this year if and when the Tebow experiment begins to divide and sputter. It may be a risk too big to succeed and so idealistic as to only fail.
Divine intervention is likely to be the Jets only prayer.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo!Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer