Tebow remains a fascinating story precisely because of all those intangibles. And while New York City loves the idea of intangibles — Derek Jeter will never go without a date because of his — you've got to back up those intangibles with, you know, tangibles. Tebow hasn't, and it doesn't look like he will in the current Jets offense anytime soon.
So, unlikely as the idea may be, why not ship him off to somewhere that his intangibles would be not just a facet of his character, but the essential element? Why not send him to the one place on earth where fans will embrace his flaws rather than make excuses for them?
Tim Tebow to Jacksonville. It'll never make more sense than it does right now.
From a narrative perspective, it makes a perfect close to the loop. Tebow played football at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach just outside Jacksonville, kicking off his legend with a state championship, two Mr. Florida Football honors, and a game in which he played the entire second half with a broken fibula. From there, he shot down the road to Gainesville, where he won a Heisman and two national championships. Tebow isn't God, but don't ask the Florida faithful which one they prefer.
It might have been better for everyone involved if Tebow had stopped right there, if he'd gone off to be a missionary or something, vanishing into the wilderness, an eternal what-could-have-been mystery. Instead, Tebow turned pro and did just enough to make people think that he could do more.
Which is why he, the Jets and their fans find themselves in this no-win web. The Jets don't deploy him nearly as often as they could, and when they do, the results are at best unimpressive and at worst catastrophic. (Witness his missed block on a punt last week against Miami that led to a block and a Dolphin touchdown.)
Tebow's passing numbers — two completions on three attempts for 32 yards — are too insignificant to show up in any statistical categories. His rushing totals — 23 carries for 78 yards — rank him dead last among the 33 NFL quarterbacks in Football Outsiders DYAR (Defensive Yards Above Replacement) rating. In rough terms, Tebow is about 30 percent less valuable at his job than an average quarterback.
And in Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville already has almost the precise statistical definition of an average quarterback. Still, he's just in his second year, so why would Jacksonville give up on him so quickly in order to get Tebow?
The easy answer is they don't have to. Tebow could be used in an unconventional offensive styling, the way the Jets ought to be using him. Jacksonville could break out any kind of insane Madden-style video game offensive scheme its coaches could imagine and turn Tebow loose.
Because here's the thing with Jacksonville: The team is 1-6 right now. They've lost four straight. Their offense is one of those jokes you can't even laugh at because you'd feel bad about yourself; the Jags rank last in such useful categories as points scored, yards per game and passing offense.
Tebow isn't going to turn that around by himself. Shoot, a Tom Brady-Arian Foster-Larry Fitzgerald combo probably couldn't turn that mess around. But Tebow will give that franchise a storyline, and while that's not as good as a win, it's enough to get a few Florida butts in seats. And in Florida, the glow coming off Tebow is like Jeter in New York or Michael Jordan in Chicago — ever-present, unwavering and unquestionable, no matter what.
Look, chances are Tebow-to-Jacksonville won't happen. There are plenty of obstacles, first and foremost reports from several major New York media outlets that indicate the Jets and Jaguars are not talking. This, despite a fervent report from a Jacksonville TV station citing "sources" that Jacksonville and New York were talking.
The Jets have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to deal Tebow or keep him for the rest of the year. While it's likely Tebow will remain in New York, you've got to believe that there's a small — or, heck, huge — part of the Jets brass that would be happy never to hear the T-question again.
So why not send the guy back home? Tim Tebow already has one statue erected in his honor, standing just outside the gates of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. It's just 63 miles to the only other stadium that could conceivably build him another one. It's a deal that works for all the right intangible reasons.
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