Sports Football

It's Tebow time! Whatever that proves to be

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) watches from the sideline while playing against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their NFL preseason football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) watches from the sideline while playing against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of their NFL preseason football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer


One-hundred and seventy-one days have passed since The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Right. Since the New York Jets struck a deal with the Broncos to obtain quarterback Tim Tebow.

While the otherworldly attention given to Tebow has dazzled the galaxy virtually on a daily basis, behind the scenes the Jets have had all that time to figure out what the heavens to do with Tebow on the field.

No one but head coach Rex Ryan, his assistants, his players and other sworn-to-silence club employees knows exactly what that is.

We'll all find out Sunday, as the Jets finally unveil their auxiliary offensive package for He Who Shall Always Be Named in their AFC East opener against the visiting Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. EDT, CBS and CTV Toronto).

Wildcat? Zone-read spread?

Or something from yesteryear, like the veer option? Wishbone? Single wing? Wing-T?

Or some novel, hybrid concoction that the Jets' new offensive coordinator — Wildcat originator Tony Sparano — has dreamed up?

The Bills are guessing just like everybody else.

"Anything," said star defensive end Mario Williams, who makes his much-anticipated debut as a Bill at MetLife Stadium.

"We are getting ready for everything ... You cannot really overemphasize something because you could be overemphasizing the wrong thing. I am sure they are going to have some tricks up their sleeve."

Count on it. And that's the whole point.

I've talked to both Ryan and Bills head coach Chan Gailey a few times now about the value of such a secondary package on offence. Gailey said it forces an opposing team's defence to spend about 15% of its preparation time in game week on that attack, rather than on the main mode. So even if you don't run it once, it achieved at least some good purpose.

"I think so," Ryan told me Thursday at his daily news conference. "When you look at it, it’s a body blow.

"It does take a lot of preparation time, and it may take even more than 15 percent because I’ve had to defend it ... Don’t think for a second that we aren’t preparing for (the Bills' Wildcat), because we are."

The Jets might desperately need such a changeup attack, too, because their A-game earned F's in the pre-season.

Mark Sanchez, the embattled fourth-year starting quarterback, completed most of his passes, yes, but for only a handful of yards — in a pure-white vanilla offence that never reached the red zone when he was in, let alone the end zone.

Thus the need for some pizzazz.

In other words, Tebow time.

His skills are best suited for a run-threat, gimmicky attack.

What vision he lacks as a passer, he more than makes up for as a rusher. He's not straight-line fast by any means, especially now that he's up over 250 pounds.

But he has great feet for a runner. He makes clever, quick cuts, and finds the right hole almost all the time — and the end zone a lot of the time whenever he's close.

Tebow has excelled the most in a zone-read spread. That's what he ran at the University of Florida from 2007-09, and that's what the Broncos devised for him last season on his remarkable run.

How often will the Jets employ Tebow in the alternate offence?

"When they say, 'Hey, go in," Tebow cracked the other day.

Ryan has said it could be as often as 20 times a game. Whatever "it" is.

Everyone on the Jets has been mum. Or coy.

"It's not going to be the Wing-T out there this weekend," Sparano said.

OK, you can at least scratch that one off the list.




Quick-hit breakfast items to whet your Week 1 appetite:

• With all the young QBs at the helm feeling their way around (5 rookies, 5 second-years), expect a lot of low scores. Even blowout losses when they face good teams, or good defences.

• A reminder that replacement officials will be working Week 1 games, with the regular still locked out. Controversy, here it comes.

• Shannon Eastin was scheduled to work the Lions-Rams game, to become the first female official ever to work a regular-season game.

• It doesn't just seem as though many of the NFL's top RBs are banged up. They are! No one knows how effective, or how much or little, these backs will play: Vikings' Adrian Peterson (knee), Texans' Arian Foster (knee), Browns' Trent Richardson (knee), Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch (back), Steelers' Rashard Mendenhall (knee), Cards' Beanie Wells (hamstring), Panthers' Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and Jags' Maurice Jones-Drew (rust).

• The Browns haven't won a season opener since 2004.

• The Patriots haven't lost a season opener since 2003.

• 15 Canadians are on NFL rosters to start the season:

Christo Bilukidi (DT, Raiders); Philip Blake (C, Broncos); Nate Burleson (WR, Lions); Austin Collie (WR, Colts); Tyrone Crawford (DE, Cowboys); Orlando Franklin (OT, Broncos); Cory Greenwood (LB, Chiefs via Concordia Stingers); Akiem Nicks (DT, Saints via Regina Rams); Israel Idonije (DT, Bears via Manitoba Bisons); L.P. Ladouceur (long snapper, Cowboys); Vaughn Martin (DT, Chargers via Western Mustangs); Jon Ryan (P, Seahawks via Regina Rams); Shaun Suisham (PK, Steelers); Danny Watkins (OT, Eagles); and Jamaal Westerman (DE, Cardinals).