Why Not Tebow?
Nightmare season continues for big cats
Through two home games started by Blaine Gabbert, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been outscored 65-5. If there is one silver lining, the team briefly led in both: 3-0 against the Colts; 2-0 against the Chiefs. So there's that.
The harsh truth, though, is that that just isn't enough. Not even close. Not when discussion — ranging from a USA Today story a couple of weeks ago to a Yahoo! Sports radio spot I heard during my Monday morning commute after the Colts debacle — revolves around whether the Jags can go 0-16. Trading away starting offensive tackles for late-round picks — as the Jaguars did with Eugene Monroe in early October — won't help the team win or the quarterback remain intact.
How bad has it gotten for the Jaguars? It's gotten so bad that when the Jaguars punt these days — and they punt a lot — people call it the Teddy Bridgewater Formation, a reference to the expected No. 1 pick that the Jags will take in the 2014 draft. It's so bad that much discussion lately has revolved around when or whether the Jaguars should sign Tim Tebow to a contract. Again!
You remember Tebow: Nease High School star, Gators superstar Heisman-trophy winner. Took Denver to the playoffs despite having entire halves of games in which he completed one forward pass. Didn't get much of a shot in New York with the Jets. Couldn't stick on the New England roster. That guy. Apparently, there are some who believe he's the franchise savior.
Like the guy in a monkey mask I talked to before the Colts game. I never miss an opportunity to talk to someone wearing an animal mask, and since he had a pro-Tebow sign, I wanted to get a sense of why he thought Tebow would be a good add for the franchise. His answer? Nothing you haven't heard before.
And why would there be anything new to say? The "why not Tebow?" side or the side posting banners that quote General Manager Dave Caldwell saying "even if he's released" he's not coming to Jacksonville — both are entrenched in their positions.
Meanwhile, Coach Gus Bradley is entrenched in his position, which is that Gabbert isn't all that bad. Consider his comments at the Monday press conference after the latest home loss:
"We continue to look at ways for us to maybe … develop a running game, or maybe develop a downfield passing game," Bradley said. "We may have to look at creative ways. So we may have to look at ways to say, ‘What really is the truth? Let's take a look at all the tape and see where are our explosive passes coming from? Where are explosive runs coming from?' If that's the case, we may gear more toward that. That's the flexibility we have to have.
"I think I saw him use some freedom," Bradley added. "I saw him do some things."
I know this looks different on film. Sitting in the press box, however, it looks to me like Gabbert is locking in on one guy and throwing it to him no matter what. Though we think of him as a pocket passer, in reality, he functions like a "one read and run" guy, much like the Jets' Geno Smith — or Tebow.
Could it be that, in terms of game, there isn't much difference between Tebow and Gabbert?
Consider the knocks on Tebow: His critics say he doesn't make the reads. That his throwing motion and his choice of receivers are questionable. That he isn't necessarily too good at lining up behind center and taking a traditional snap. He's missing all of the things you might expect from, say, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or the gone-but-not-forgotten Mark Brunell — to be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars during the Dec. 15 game against the Buffalo Bills.
Compare those pejorative descriptions to ones that could be levied on Gabbert. In his third season of handing the ball off to Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, he still has issues with the quarterback/running back exchange — a product, to be sure, of the former Missouri quarterback playing the shotgun spread offense in college. I've seen the same issues from Tebow in the traditional pro-set offense. In fact, I'd argue that there are more similarities than differences between the two.
That said, folks still agitate for Tebow to be signed, because, well, he's local. They don't seem to be able to take off the orange-and-blue blinders and see that the guy who's in there right now isn't much different than the one they so desperately want to sign. With an increasingly porous line, though, maybe they should sign Tebow anyway, just to have another warm body behind center once the inevitable injuries happen.