He was supposed to be the New York Jets' saving grace, a keystone piece to an offense recommitting itself to a ground and pound style of football. More than a keystone, he was the perfect player for the system, a quarterback built like a fullback who could advance the ball through tight holes by his raw power.
Yet sadly, three weeks into the 2012 NFL season, Jets fans have not been able to see the potential of Tim Tebow unleashed. After sharing snaps on the first drive against the Buffalo Bills, Tebow's role on the offense has all but diminished. Many believed that when Tebow took the field for one series last week against Pittsburgh, that he was going to finish out the game after a devastating hit on Mark Sanchez left the starting quarterback with an aching back that he still suffers from lingering pain.
But after one series, Tebow was pulled again in favor of Sanchez, possibly in fear that the league's most dangerous backup quarterback's performance would inspire a revolt from fans demanding him to be named the starter. Rex Ryan couldn't run the risk of losing Sanchez much the way Kyle Orton was driven out of the starting role in Denver. Faced daily with questions regarding Tebow's play count, Ryan refuses to give a definitive answer.
"As we've said from day one, this guy is a good football player," Ryan asserted. "We're not going to say he has to get "x" amount of snaps. That's not what we do. Things go into it, matchups are a consideration (and) a lot of different things."
Ryan was later called out on never giving a clear answer regarding the Tim Tebow situation. He answered the accusation accordingly, saying that he's not just going to give teams a leg up on preparing to play the Jets and chooses to keep them in the dark.
"The media is not going to drive it," stated Ryan. "The opponent, they're not going to have any idea what we're going to do with them and I'm certainly not going to let them know, ‘By the way, Tebow is going to have 50 snaps today.' Let (them prepare). I'm never going to give a legitimate answer."
But Ryan will have to face the music when 75,000 fans at Sun Life Stadium will not forget all that Tebow did for the University of Florida and the state. Sun Life is hallowed ground for Tebow, twice having led championship teams within the orange and teal building. One of those games was in 2009, where Tebow defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide en route to the national championship and MVP honors. The pressure of having so many fans coming to see Tebow may just make the enigmatic coach have to play his star back-up.
With a three-game home stand coming up after the trip to Florida, the Jets are facing a must win game that may define their season. Wins are going to be hard to come by in the coming weeks as the Super Bowl favorite San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans are set to invade MetLife Stadium. Tebow showed last week the difference he could make in just three plays. He could help ignite a stagnant run offense that could lead to a winning record after week three, which would only help the confidence of a team still trying to find its identity.