The Jets didn't revolutionize the Wildcat with Tim Tebow. But they did something even more amazing: Turned him bitter and vengeful.
Tebow, whose unfailing optimism, politeness and team-first approach is particularly noticeable in a me-first league that shatters the hardiest of bodies and souls, finally reached his breaking point last week when the Jets benched Mark Sanchez but chose to replace him with no. 3 quarterback Greg McElroy instead of Tebow.
ESPNNewYork.com reported Sunday night that Tebow, upon being informed he was passed over for the starting gig, asked coach Rex Ryan not to use him in the Wildcat against the Chargers. Tebow told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday night that he and Ryan had a falling out earlier in the week but that he told Ryan on Friday that he'd play in the Wildcat package.
On Sunday, though, it was wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, and not Tebow, who operated as the Wildcat quarterback and threw the 42-yard pass to Clyde Gates that set up the Jets' first touchdown. Tebow never got off the bench in the Jets' 27-17 loss, marking the third time in the last five weeks that Tebow has been active but did not play.
He was inactive against the Cardinals on Dec. 2, when Greg McElroy made his NFL debut by coming off the bench and leading the Jets to a comeback win in place of an ineffective Mark Sanchez, and played an entire series against the Titans last Monday night.
Ryan, appearing on a conference call Monday, declined to address whether Tebow asked out of the Wildcat or if he went several days last week without talking to Tebow. He said several times he would not discuss "private conversations" that he has with players but acknowledged Tebow was unhappy upon learning McElroy would start against the Chargers.
Ryan also said that he was confident that if he asked Tebow to play, "Without question, he would've gone in and played."
Making Tebow's inactivity Sunday even more intriguing is the fact he didn't play less than 24 hours after ESPN reported he is likely to be acquired by the Jaguars, his hometown team, following the season. The news was reported by Chris Mortensen, a friend of Tebow's who has appeared with the quarterback at religious functions. And both Tebow and Ryan are represented by Jimmy Sexton, which led some to believe that Sexton's camp planted the news.
Tebow seemed amused by the theory when presented it after the game Sunday, but didn't exactly deny it as he lauded Sexton for being a good agent and a good friend. Ryan appeared perplexed when presented with the same theory both on Sunday and Monday.
"Tim is under contract to us and that's what I know about the situation," Ryan said Monday.