Will the New York Jets be the NFL team that finally realizes that Tim Tebow possesses a running style that gives him a specific football skill that is superior to every other player in the sport? When most quarterbacks run with the football, they usually prefer a shifty style that allows them to avoid contact. Tebow, however, is different. His straight-ahead style is more like a fullback in that he attempts to run over opposing defenders.
This, combined with his ability to throw, makes him the most dangerous player in football in short-yardage situations. I became aware of this ability during the 2006 Florida-Florida State game, when Florida coach Urban Meyer inserted the true freshman Tebow into the game nearly every time the Gators needed a single yard. It worked numerous times on that day and played a big role in wearing down a strong Seminole defense in a 21-14 Gator victory. From the stands of Doak Campbell Stadium, I realized that Tebow would always have a place in the pros as a short-yardage specialist.
Nothing I saw over the remainder of his college career convinced me otherwise, as Tebow proved equally adept at bulldozing over opposing defenders or scrambling in the pocket waiting for a receiver to get open. This skill was a major reason why some consider Tebow to be the greatest player in the history of college football.So why haven't NFL teams realized that this is the exact role that Tebow can fill on a roster while learning the ins and outs of the quarterback position?
Contrary to popular belief, it often takes time to develop into a successful NFL quarterback. For every quarterback who becomes a star right out of the gate, there is one who needs a few years to really hit his stride. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were perennial All-Pros by their second year. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees needed time to get their feet wet.
Of course, nobody wants to see a big-name player sitting on the bench while he is developing into a starter -- which is the best part about using Tebow as a short-yardage dynamo. This role would ensure that he gets onto the field and plays an important part in the Jets' 2012 season. It would also allow the Jets to save on a roster spot, as Tebow would be killing two birds with one stone as both the short-yardage specialist and backup signal-caller. Could this alter Tebow's timetable for development as an NFL quarterback? Possibly.
But truth be told, Tebow's unorthodox style of play is not likely to change too much anyway. He will always have an average arm for the position, and his lefthandedness ensures that plays will always have to be altered to fit his strengths. So why not get a known value out of Tebow while letting him develop as a quarterback instead of merely hoping he figures it out one day? In an era where football players are increasingly specialized, Tim Tebow represents a wild card. The Jets would be wise to use him as such.