FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — When the New York Jets need to simulate Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, the responsibility falls to a man old enough to be his father. Well, at least Mark Brunell is left-handed just like Tebow.
Having turned 41 in September, Brunell is 17 years the senior of Tebow, the second-year quarterback who will create all sorts of matchup issues for the Jets on Thursday night.
While opinions differ on Tebow, he is clearly a mobile quarterback who can create problems with his blend of speed, strength and size. Brunell, who has more grey hairs on his head than Tebow has NFL throws, seems like an odd choice to help Rex Ryan's defense prep for the Broncos' read-option.
"The funny thing is Brunell, I don't know what his stats were in college, but he was Tebow minus 50 pounds before Tim Tebow," Ryan said. "He could run like crazy but he's familiar with the option, he's run it before."
Brunell has yet to play this season and last year had just 13 passes all of last year with the Jets. In fact, over the past five seasons including this current one, Brunell has thrown a combined 43 times, a very Tebow-esque stat. The Broncos quarterback had just eight passes for two completions last week, while rushing the ball nine times.
For his NFL career, Tebow has 91 rushing attempts against just 88 completions. Brunell credits Tebow's low passing numbers last week in a 17-10 win over Kansas City to the fact that the Broncos "weren't in a position where they had to throw the ball a lot, they were effective in the run game."
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, while talking with the media on Tuesday, called it "Wildcat with a passer." But while Revis doesn't think that Tebow's version of the Wildcat will ever take off like Michael Vick's offense in Philadelphia, he does think Tebow will come out and play with a point to prove.
"The guy has been frowned upon since he arrived into the NFL. So I know he has a chip on his shoulder. Why wouldn't he?" Revis said. "People have always said, he can't do this, he can't do that. And he has his opportunity right now to prove people wrong."
Either way, it makes for an intriguing week for Brunell.
"I don't know if it's possible for me to simulate Tebow — I've got some years on him — but I do my best. I've watched some tape of Tim, he's a great athlete," Brunell said. "He has the incredible ability to run with the football, he had a big play in the pass game last week too, so our defense has to be ready for that too."
Ryan said that the team showed clips from a more spry Brunell running the ball over two decades ago while as a quarterback for the Washington Huskies. Perhaps Brunell's pregame playlist on his cassette recorder included Tag Team or some Soul Asylum.
The highlight reel got a laugh from Brunell, even drawing some self-deprecating humor from the veteran quarterback.
"It was all on eight millimeters, so they had to convert it to video," Brunell said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.om/KristianRDyer
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- Mark Brunell
- Tim Tebow