May 24, 2021

Breaking Down Tim Tebow's Role With Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the busiest franchises this offseason. Armed with the No. 1 overall pick, a bevy of draft assets and the most cap space in the NFL, the Jags made sweeping changes across the organization. Everything began with hiring Urban Meyer and has coalesced with the signing of Tim Tebow.

The controversial head coach with an insanely successful collegiate background must prove he's not too predictable. Meyer's offenses in college relied too heavily on talent over scheme and development. Concerns he'd favor players and coaches whom he had worked with in the past were another loud sentiment as he was hired.

There were a lot of positives throughout the first waves of signings and hires. Bringing on Darrell Bevell, an extremely qualified and experienced offensive coordinator, to help develop Trevor Lawrence, made sense. Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen had tremendous success in Baltimore and there's reason to believe he can improve what was an atrocious unit last year. 

Of course, taking Lawrence with the top selection was the cherry on top of a busy period. The Jaguars added Marvin Jones, Travis Etienne, Shaquill Griffin, among others throughout the offseason. And yet it's Tebow who led the NFL in jersey sales last week.

The Tebow signing sparked several days worth of debate on social media. The 33-year-old hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2012 and was a subpar QB at the time. Once resistant to changing positions, Tebow is now getting one final (?) chance in the NFL.

The long break in service makes the move most peculiar at face value. But the Florida Gators connection between Meyer and Tebow is obvious as the two enjoyed tremendous success in the Heisman Trophy-winners three seasons with the program. Tebow is also a local legend due to the proximity to the University of Florida.

Meyer likely wanted to throw Tebow an opportunity to make the roster and accrue his crucial fourth season, which allows him to receive an annual pension if he makes the final 53-man roster, so it's an important milestone for all players. He has just three in the books currently.

The local interest was already high but couldn't increase more. It's fair for the Jaguars to drum up fan interest by pairing Meyer with Tebow. At the end of the day, the franchise will need to win and having Lawrence is the most important cog in the wheel.

Tebow has an outside chance at making the roster. With just two targets in his entire collegiate and NFL career, and having not played football in any form since the Eagles' training camp in 2015, he's a major long shot to beat out any qualified athlete who has played the position ever in their life. Tebow's role won't be as a starter unless his fantastic athleticism remains intact and his catching ability is average.

The lack of competition on the Jaguars' roster makes it more interesting but the team would be stretching to keep him aboard. Fifth-rounder Luke Farrell could start while  James O'Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis, and Chris Manhertz form an underwhelming group, they've still shown some NFL ability. Tebow would have to play special teams to be a TE3 so there's yet another hurdle for the former first-round pick.

Tebow won't win the job as a traditional tight end. He has no experience blocking, and his route-running and catching ability is likely clunky due to his inexperience. He'll have to be a versatile piece.

An H-back role where he's the move tight end, fullback and slot receiver in addition to special teams coverage will be mandatory. He could beat out C.J. Beathard for the emergency quarterback role as well if given the chance to compete there. Meyer could justify saving several roster spots for other positions if Tebow has the physicality and aptitude for all of those roles.

Meyer's offense has always featured a move player but rarely one who has a bigger frame. Etienne is in line to take the "Percy Harvin-role" both Meyer and Bevell had utilized in the past. It's hard to imagine Tebow would earn more than a handful of targets all season even if he makes the team.

The Jaguars are more likely to look for a veteran than to keep Tebow in a versatile role. Zach Ertz or Tyler Eifert could start and provide a more stable presence for the offense. 

Supporting Tebow's journey to make the active roster shouldn't be shamed but expectations must be managed. The media circus around him is hard for those already annoyed by his fanatics to deal with. His followers must accept Tebow's abysmal performance as an NFL passer and understand he had the chance to play tight end previously but declined out of stubbornness. 

Meyer's decision to sign Tebow is a low-risk, low-upside move. The worst case is he'll hear some ribbing if Tebow is cut prior to the season because he used a roster spot on such a long shot and friend. But in the big picture, no one will care either way as long as the Jaguars become competitive.

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