Interesting tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter this morning, “Jets have told quarterback Tim Tebow that they plan to use him on special teams as the punt protector.”
This news comes a week after ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported that the Jets would try to use Tebow at a number of positions, including running back and fullback.
So what’s this all about?
Why would a team trade for a beloved quarterback and instantly leak rumours that he would be playing a different position?
Why would the Jets implicitly trash Tebow’s ability as a quarterback by saying he’ll be a damn good punt protector?
In short, it’s all about managing expectations. No matter what these rumours say, there’s no way in hell that Tebow sees extended time at running back (or punt blocker, or whatever) this fall.
He’s a backup quarterback, not a utility player.
But floating these rumours reframes the discussion. It forces people to stop talking about potential Tebow-Sanchez QB Nightmare Scenario, because who said Tebow was even a quarterback in the first place?
The rumours position Tebow as if he was a raw, unproven, dual-threat QB coming out of college, not as if he just won a playoff game and became a national phenomenon last year.
On the record, Jets execs are still supporting Tebow and touting his bonafides as a QB. But every few weeks, another vaguely sourced “Tim Tebow isn’t even a QB” rumour hits, and it eases the pressure that much more.
The Eagles did the same thing when they signed Mike Vick to back-up Donovan McNabb a few years ago, and Vick never saw the time at wide receiver that the preseason rumours suggested.
Teams always threaten to create some sort of hybrid position and “experiment” with an athletic QB, but it never happens.
By tearing Tebow down, they’re calming the hysteria, at least for now.
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