It is official, Tim Tebow is back in the NFL – and I was one of the first online to get his new jersey. I already have and wear his jersey from the University of Florida, the Jets, and the Mets. From the first day I saw him back in 2009, he has been my favorite professional athlete since John Riggins. I placed my order the second the team announced what jersey number he would be wearing.
Despite the unprecedented protests over signing the player, including the words from one unnamed former GM, a GM I used to work for, Tim Tebow is back in the National Football League. I repeat, Tim Tebow is back in the National Football League and I could not be happier. I think it is the very move that will move the meter and take the Jaguars to the playoffs 2021.
As perhaps Tebow’s biggest fan from the moment I first saw him play for the Gators, I have also done what I could to get him back into the NFL in whatever capacity I have found myself in. I urged my friend Marc Trestman to sign him in Chicago in 2013 when he was named as the head coach and the following year, I wrote what remains as one of the most controversial articles about Tebow that is out there. Three years later, I proposed to make Tebow both my starting franchise QB and my Assistant GM in Cleveland. I sent a 166-page GM proposal to Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam, when he personally asked me for my ideas. The move would have made Tebow the first player/front office executive in league history. Something similar happened in 2019 when I met with Bruce Allen (who was Washington’s Team President at the time) and he asked me for my ideas of what I thought his team should do. Once again, I swung for the proverbial fences for Tebow, urging Allen to sign him.
Looking back, I can now see the timing just was not right. Nobody would do it, but now Urban Meyer has done it – Meyer has signed Tebow and right off the bat, Meyer has brilliantly created an element of unpredictability in every opponent’s mind Jacksonville has on their upcoming schedule.
Tebow will make the team and whether a twist of fate puts him back under center or he lines up at tight end – either way – he will provide just the spark that is needed. If he lines up at tight end, I would not be at all surprised to see Meyer develop a new offensive system along the lines of Miami’s 2008 Wildcat that would absolutely throw defenses for a loop. I would also not be surprised if Tebow revolutionizes the tight end position.
Nothing moves the meter faster in the NFL than something – or someone who is different. Throughout history on the league’s timeline we have seen this several times before – Bill Walsh created offensive dominance for the 49ers with the West Coast Offense. Buddy Ryan created defensive dominance for the Bears with his creation of the “46,” and more recently Miami, led by Tony Sparano, spearheaded the quickest turnaround in league history when he took the Dolphins to the playoffs after finishing 1-15 the previous season.
A new offensive system in Jacksonville would create as much confusion for defenses as it does excitement for fans. In a league where an offense goes three wides and a defense goes nickel on autopilot, anything outside the box creates mismatches – and opportunities. Lining up with Tebow at tight end opens up a recipe’s book worth of options for Meyer and company to cook up some things that are outside the box. Lawrence could throw a screen to Tebow and Tebow could either run or throw depending on the read. Tebow could motion inward prior to the snap and take a direct snap and run it. Tebow could also motion inward, take a pitch from Lawrence, head to the edge, throw it back to Lawrence and Lawrence could then find a receiver wide open in the end zone.
Signing Tebow not only creates a lot more for opposing defenses to consider – signing Tebow also creates more for the opponents to prepare for on special teams. Maybe this is part of the reason so many wished to keep Tebow out of Jacksonville? Meyer very well may insert Tebow as the “up-back” on Jacksonville’s punt team given his ability to run or pass on fake punt play calls. This could also force Jacksonville’s opponents to keep their defense on the field on 4th down a lot more.
I will be watching and cheering for Tebow this season, either as a fan or perhaps as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars staff, because my next move after I get done writing this article is to reach out to Tebow’s new boss.
Urban Meyer is exactly the type of man I want to work for. Meyer is bold and he gets outside of the box. Meyer is also not afraid to go against the grain nor the consensus – no matter how much heat he takes – he is my kind of guy.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.