The world didn't need the New York Daily News to conduct an informal poll of the New York Jets' locker room to find out that Tim Tebow's quarterbacking skills aren't too highly thought of – anonymous money quote: "He's terrible."
The fact he's the backup to the slumping Mark Sanchez, who isn't exactly going to be named All-Pro and has the Jets at 3-6 on the year, sort of says it all.
Still, while the story isn't particularly fair, and the controversy is mostly contrived, the fact remains that this is exactly what the Jets knew they were getting into when they brought Tebow in from the Denver Broncos this offseason. Or at least they should've known.
"If you’re going to make a negative comment, that's fine," Ryan said on Wednesday. "We never say that it always has to be a bed of roses. But again, put your name to it. I think people will respect you a lot more."
This is one of the byproducts of Tebowmania – a negative, divisive media storm during an otherwise quiet week creating another round of handwringing and name-calling over how, if at all, the team should use their second string quarterback.
On how many other teams is that any kind of story, let alone one that becomes a national headline and descends into such dramatic sides being taken?
Ideally the unattributed shots never would've been printed. Granting anonymity for people to offer random negative opinions – essentially an open mic to rip a teammate – is unfortunate. Protecting a source should be about allowing sensitive information and facts that would otherwise remain secret to reach the public.
And since there wasn't exactly a major debate about who should be the starter, this was essentially a created controversy. There are, no doubt, Jets players who figure at this stage of the season that they might as well try a new course of action. However, there is no indication that it's a mindset shared by coach Rex Ryan or general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
"We never brought him on here to be the starting QB," Ryan said Wednesday.
Forget the moralizing on all of that. This is the NFL. This is Tim Tebow. This is the New York media.
The Jets' front office was adamant it could find the perfect and proper role for Tebow in the offense. New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was a believer in the Wildcat, which an athlete like Tebow could presumably run perfectly. Rex Ryan was sold because as a former defensive coordinator he knew how difficult the system can be to defend. As an added bonus, it would allow for a change of pace to Sanchez, who would remain the traditional-style thrower and solid starter.
None of it has worked.
The Wildcat has been mostly unproductive.
"We can't win running that [expletive]," one player told the Daily News.
Worse, Sanchez is having a dreadful season, completing just 52 percent of his passes and throwing nine interceptions against just 10 TDs. There have been stretches where he looks completely incapable of being a No. 1 in the league.
To compound the issue, the Jets no longer have the strong receiving corps that often bailed Sanchez out during his first two seasons in the league, when New York twice reached the AFC title game. Gone too is the once ferocious defense, the biggest blow being a season-ending injury to Darrelle Revis.
Like a house of cards its come crashing down and where there is the smoke of failure in New York, someone is going to try to create a fire of controversy.
So there's Tebow getting slammed on the back page of the Daily News, not by a leaguewide poll of players or some talking head on television but in what the paper says was more than a dozen voices from his own locker room.
That would make for an awkward work environment. And, of course, another circus when the media descends on the team Wednesday and everyone has to answer, lie, backtrack or say something about the backup quarterback. Again.
About the only positive is that it isn't going to derail a promising season. It's a short drop to rock bottom.
Tebow doesn't deserve this, of course. It wasn't like he was out there demanding the starting job, or ripping on Sanchez, or declaring he's some superstar talent who just needs a chance. He's been as humble and team-first this season as ever. About his strongest comment all year is that he'd like to play more, which kind of goes without saying.
That's the reality he lives in, the dynamic he brings to the table. He's an iconic figure and there is no changing that. In today's media environment, when there is a chance to humiliate, it will be taken.
It's up to NFL teams to figure out how to handle it because while there are plenty of positives that come with having Tim Tebow on your team, this is one of the expected negatives.
Fair or not, true or not, the Jets signed up for days like these.
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