‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Believe it or not, Tim Tebow could become the best thing to happen to Mark Sanchez in quite a while, and not just because of the effect Sanchez’ backup could have on the Jets’ running game.
If Sanchez is smart, he’ll make this year’s training camp in Cortland HIS camp; a time where he can focus in on all aspects of his game without any outside distractions. Sanchez may not even have to worry about signing a single autograph the way things are stacking up.
He can operate in relative privacy and tranquility.
And it’s all thanks to Tebow and his growing flock.
If early reports are correct, it appears Cortland is bracing for a flood of people, many of whom will hit the camp and the town with the express purpose of viewing, cheering, and for the lucky few, conversing with the NFL’s reigning evangelist. According to the Daily News Sunday, the town already has received calls from church groups, enough of them to predict a trend that will not only increase attendance at the SUNY Cortland training grounds, but also bring mucho business to the town.
T-shirts with Tebow logos and images are being prepared. One Christian book store owner told the paper that she hopes Tebow will consent to attend a signing of his best-seller, “Through My Eyes.”
By the looks of it, all that’s missing right now is the erection of a huge revival tent and the purchase of a few hundred bibles.
It has the potential to be a real spectacle.
And it all could benefit Sanchez in a big, unique way.
Think of it. What starting quarterback ever has the advantage of a crowd that will hold its emotions until his backup gets out there with the second unit?
Eli Manning? Uh-uh. Come to think of it, some of those dual-fanship folks who stop by Albany for a quick look at the Giants might just switch over to Cortland full-time for the full Tebow treatment. If Sanchez generated more talk than the two-time Super Bowl MVP ever did, imagine the circus that will surround the intriguing Tebow.
This is all going to be a godsend (no pun intended) for Sanchez, providing he regards all the Tebow hubbub as an opportunity and not an insult. With that one acquisition, the Jets unknowingly took all the PR pressure away from Sanchez and put it on his backup.
Now, Sanchez need only prepare for practice as well as he does every day, and go out there and execute, knowing that many of those eyes will be there for Tebow exclusively. No pressure.
Sanchez can use a camp like that. Former receiver Plaxico Burress’ recent revelation to WFAN that Sanchez had battled a shoulder injury last season was partly responsible for his unimpressive 26-touchdown, 18-interception statistics explained a lot.
Now that that is in the past, Sanchez needs to work on his total game. Mechanics, decision-making, execution, and his relationship with his receivers.
Especially Santonio Holmes.
Actually, Holmes may be one who needs convincing that, regardless of Tebow’s role, the former Bronco could be a good thing for him, too. If Tebow can improve offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s running game by offering the Wildcat a different, physically bigger dimension, it could help open things up downfield for the receivers.
Even the volatile Holmes might appreciate that.
The crowds at Cortland might be bigger come that first workout July 27. By camp’s end Aug. 16, the total attendance might be the biggest ever. Sanchez must turn that to his advantage by remember that many of those people — from the church groups to those wondering what all the fuss is about with a backup quarterback, will care deeply about seeing Tebow, and not a wit about him. Ego matters aside, that’s a nice way for a starting quarterback to operate.
It’s now up to Sanchez to recognize that Tebow can make the starter a better quarterback by his training camp presence alone.
Is Sanchez primed for a great camp? Be heard in the comments below!