If I hadn’t had both hands on my camera, I swear I would have caught this Tim Tebow bounce-pass to me at New York Jets practice on Sunday. He might not have been intending to throw it to me, but hit my hand it did. See, he’s locked right on to me!
CORTLAND, N.Y. — I got a hand on as many Tim Tebow throws as his wide receivers did Sunday morning during his first series of 11-on-11 reps at New York Jets training camp.
Honest ta gawd, I think I did.
That as much as anything shows how ridiculous it is, really, that anyone might think Tebow would give the Jets a better chance to win than entrenched starter Mark Sanchez. At least in a traditional NFL offence.
Here’s how my Tebow Touch happened.
The pop-culture phenom went 0-for-3 on that series. His first incompletion was a swing pass to the left. He misfired, hard and high. The ball skipped up and over the advertising signs that separate the media from the main practice field at SUNY-Cortland.
I happened to be standing at that exact spot, behind the signs, taking photographs. The ball bounced right up at me, and with my right hand I batted it down to another reporter’s legs.
Yes, I’ll wash that hand again.
After watching Tebow throw for three hours, I can’t help but wonder how in the hell he ever led an NFL team to one win last year, let alone to one playoff win, as he did with the Broncos.
Here’s the deal.
His delivery is slow. Achingly slow. His shoulder swivel on his follow-through seems truncated to me. And when he speeds things up, he practically abandons his shoulder swivel altogether, which probably further hurts his accuracy.
Greg Cosell, the NFL Films expert known for his astute critiques of player mechanics, informs me that four “departments” must work together, and fire at the right time, for a QB to be successful in the pros: legs, shoulders, hips and arm.
Arm is only 20% of it.
So, he releases it slowly and throws it slowly.
By contrast, the Tebow Media Circus travels on hyper-speed.
More than 80 reporters and cameramen were on hand Sunday. You cannot have claustrophobia and survive an impromptu scrum around here.
The coverage is only intensifying. ESPN will air live reports from here all this coming week, even building a special set. All Tebow, all the time. Olympics, shmolympics.
Tebow make news whether he seeks it or not. At the end of Saturday’s practice, held in a downpour, he removed his drenched jersey and ran off the field, bare-chested.
Many Olympic events will not receive the same coverage from U.S. media.
Tebow and Sanchez are speaking to the press only on a limited basis at camp. Sunday was not one of those days.
To their credit, Sanchez and Tebow are doing all they can to avoid sparking any unintended controversy between them. It can’t be easy.
Especially because, as Jets head coach Rex Ryan reiterated Sunday, they’re not exactly Joe Montana and Steve Young.
Ryan also reiterated that Sanchez is the starter — full stop. But he sees value in Tebow coming in occasionally to run an alt.offence of sorts, one that we’re suspecting will be more zone-read than Wildcat.
“As much as I loved (ex-Jet and current Buffalo Bill) Brad (Smith running the Wildcat), Brad wasn’t going to give you the inside running game that Tim can give you. And Tim can throw the ball (pause) … a little better than Brad.
“Tebow is a guy that we know can be effective.”
Especially running the ball. Reportedly now weighing 251 pounds — 15 pounds more than listed — Tebow is a load. He’s powerful, has good vision and is far more slippery than he’s given credit for.
Off the field, Tebow of course is a superstar. He might now be the best-known NFLer in America. His unabashedly strong religious convictions got him there.
Beyond all that, his teammates seem to genuinely like him, respect him, and want the best for him — just as the Broncos did, and as his University of Florida teammates did before that.
“How can you not accept somebody who has humility, who works hard, who is a great teammate?” said veteran linebacker Bart Scott.
“You’ve seen the cameras that follow him. Half of you guys wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t here. But he takes it all in stride, and it never affects his relationship with his teammates.”
But they do chuckle sometimes at how news follows Tebow at every turn.
Such as the episode in the rain on Saturday.
“The slow-motion run,” Scott said, chuckling. “Like I told him, I’ve never seen anybody decide to take their shirt OFF in the rain. Usually I put stuff ON.
Maybe it was holy water, I don’t know.”
Speaking of which, it says here that if Tebow cannot dramatically improve his passing mechanics, it’ll take divine intervention to get him another starting job in the NFL.
That said, heaven help us all if Sanchez falters this fall.