‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Shortly after the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, the team’s eminent fountain of poisonous wisdom, Santonio Holmes, said something to the effect that all was well with his relationship with Mark Sanchez. But should Sanchez stumble the first two games, he’d be throwing his lot behind Tebow.
He was the only one to say it outright, but yesterday’s locker room indicated that other players may be thinking the same thing. They’re glowing over the new kid’s leadership qualities.
You kind of get the idea that the locker room is collectively saying, “Yeah, sure, Mark’s our starter. But this Tebow guy, he’s something else!”
Darrelle Revis seemed close to a break with self-containment yesterday when he showered praise on Tebow. Revis, the Jets’ shutdown cornerback, credited Tebow with showing leadership from the practice field to the locker room and weight room, all the way to the cafeteria.
He’s passionate. He’s hard-working. He’s confident, Revis told reporters. And he’s winning his teammates over day by day. The “It” factor, Revis called Tebow’s whole personality package.
You kind of get the idea that if this keeps up, he’ll be getting a lot more than those 15-to-20 snaps new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has planned for him in the regular season. At least at the start of it.
This kind of praise is not something Sanchez would likely prefer to hear. Yeah, Sanchez owns a rock-hard work ethic, and nobody would dispute that. But it’s no secret that the Jets’ nominal starter has a paper-thin self-image. He’s not a confident kid, even in light of the career bests in completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, and quarterback rating.
Too many blown games among those 18 interceptions.
It won’t help Sanchez that quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh also appears to be smitten with Tebowmania. The guy all but took a knee and put his fist to eye level in prayer as he lauded his new student’s passion and mechanics. Given Tebow’s ugly history with the short and medium passing game, one wonders if Cavanaugh was simply pumping up Tebow’s confidence in that area, or whether a confirmed miracle had occurred at Florham Park.
Either way, people are fast taking a liking to the evangelist in shoulder pads. And it’s not because of his beliefs, but how he is acting in the training complex.
There’s a long way to go before the Jets face the Bills, Steelers, 49ers, and Texans in four of the first five weeks. And remember, everything leading up to that is about production potential. The nicest, most sincere, God-fearingest guys in the world don’t get anyplace in pro football without somebody believing they can be a true asset to their squads.
The same will hold true for Tebow. He’ll have to turn into a real passer, or at least one capable of delivering the short out in a key situation, to supplant the incumbent, be it coming right out of training camp or after a flawed, stuttering start of the schedule.
Yet, it appears numerous players and coaches are lining up behind Tebow, hoping that things work out far better than the original plan.
Can’t blame them. He’s a kid you can root for.
Sanchez? He’ll probably start the season. But as Holmes said well before Revis jumped on the backup train, the first sign of trouble and he’s going to start calling for Tebow.
At that point, heaven help Sanchez. He’ll become just another nice fellow who couldn’t make it on the country’s greatest stage.
Jets fans, are you lining up behind Tebow — or is Sanchez your guy? Sound off below…