More 'terrible' than Tebow? The Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- So some New York Jets think Tim Tebow is a sorry excuse for a quarterback, the same Tim Tebow who last year beat the sorry excuse for a contender known as the New York Jets.

Anonymous teammates quoted in a Daily News report apparently believe the trade for Tebow -- again, the guy who beat them in Denver last November -- was dumber than Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson, dumber than Phil Simms' most recent evaluation of Eli Manning, and dumber than the sex, lies and audiotape defining the Gen. Petraeus case.

One Jet was quoted in the News report describing Tebow as "terrible." And if the world's most famous second-stringer had even one mean bone in his body, just like the rest of us, he would've come out swinging Wednesday at the offending phantoms in the locker room.

He would've reminded everyone about his conquest of the Jets in 2011, the one that helped ruin the losers' season and helped notarize Tebow's standing as an amateur-hour passer with a magical endgame talent for rising above his own limitations.

He would've pointed out that the 2012 Jets have run 572 plays from scrimmage, 539 of them without Tebow touching the ball and 509 of them with Tebow on the sidelines and a safe distance from all the necessary blame. He would've pointed to the 3-6 record, pointed to his time on the bench, and declared this indisputable truth: It's not my fault.

Only Tebow isn't like the rest of us, not publicly anyway. Surrounded by cameras and microphones Wednesday, the quarterback with no arm disarmed the encroaching reporters one more time, swearing that he'll keep working at being a better player and teammate, that he'll keep building relationships, and that he'll keep trying to convert negatives into positives.

Tebow would concede only that he did feel "some frustration" and "some sadness" over the printed comments, even as the one Jet who put his name to some anti-Tebow sentiment, Matt Slauson, claimed he made his remarks so long ago he couldn't remember when he said them.

And since Tebow wouldn't say it, we'll say it for him. Maybe he is a terrible practice player, and maybe he would amount to a terrible first-stringer in a sport putting more and more of a premium on volume passing, accuracy and the ability to tilt the scoreboard with big plays down the field.

But Tebow has plenty of company for his misery here. If you rattled off all the Jets who have been worse at their jobs than Tebow has been at his, you'd need more time to assemble the list than any defensive coordinator has spent on the abomination that is Tony Sparano's version of the Wildcat.

Sparano? Terrible. Rex Ryan? Terrible. Mike Tannenbaum? Terrible. Mark Sanchez? Terrible. The wide receivers? Terrible. The pass rush? Terrible.

Woody Johnson, owner and guardian of all things Tebow? Beyond terrible.

By Ryan's own admission, Tebow has performed admirably in his role as the personal protector on the punt team, at least when he hasn't blocked the wrong Miami Dolphin and allowed the punt to, you know, get blocked. Ryan described Tebow as an "excellent football player," a devoted gym rat and an athlete who enhances the chemistry of a locker room divided last year by petty jealousies and the destructive tendencies of Santonio Holmes.

The same locker room now reportedly unified by its belief that Tim Tebow stinks.

Guess what? The anonymous whisperers stink, too, and not for the reason Ryan stated in a news conference when he branded the Tebow bashers as "cowardly" for refusing to blitz the lefty by name.

The anonymous whisperers stink because the vast majority of them have likely contributed more to the Jets' 3-6 record than Tebow has.

One player told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini that Ryan had no choice but to keep Sanchez under center because, "There's no other viable option." That player failed to add the following: A lot of Jets remain in the lineup only because there's no other viable option on the roster.

As much as Tannenbaum failed Sanchez by handing him a circle of nonplaymakers to work with, Ryan and Sparano have failed Tebow by plowing him up the middle on the same old delays and by finding no meaningful ways to use his versatility and athleticism.

Truth is, the Jets have hurt Tebow more than Tebow has hurt them. "I think he's probably contributed more than any other backup quarterback in this league because of his unique skill sets," Ryan said.

"I don't see any other quarterback lining up as a personal protector. I think he contributes more than just being a backup."

More evidence that Tebow is better at what he does -- however limited his responsibilities are -- than many Jets employees and employers are at what they do.

"I feel for Tim," Sanchez said. "It sucks."

The starting quarterback handled himself well Wednesday, maintaining that the Jets who want to protect his first-string standing "don't have to go overboard and blast a guy who works his butt off."

Sanchez promised to talk to Tebow if the backup was open to it, and on the way to the showers the first-stringer gave a hang-in-there slap on the second-stringer's thigh pads.

Hours after Ryan offered up some news conference bunk on how his Jets are growing closer than ever (yeah, right), Tebow was the real deal at his stall. He said he laughed about this episode with Slauson, laughed about it with Rex, and said his thank-yous and God bless yous to reporters and moved on with his day.

Tebow's act isn't an act at all, because nobody can fake it 24/7 like this.

But he is a former Heisman Trophy winner, national champion and first-round pick for a reason. So yes, there were a couple of moments during his post-practice interview when the wounded competitor within surfaced.

"You're human," Tebow said, talking about himself. "It's not always fun to have people say negative things about you."

He was reminded about his 2011 victory over the Jets by a reporter who wondered the following: "If you're terrible, then what does that make them?"

Tebow lowered his head and paused before answering, as if some unseen devil on one shoulder pad was ready to sack the omnipresent angel on the other.

"Umm, you know, I'm a Jet now," Tebow finally said, "and I'm proud to be a Jet. And I'm honored to be in a locker room with a lot of great guys."

Just not as many great guys as he thought. By the time Ryan blasted his players for ripping into a defenseless target, Tebow was already trying to forgive and forget.

Of course, he'd never remind anyone that he has completed 83.3 percent of his passes (5 of 6) and has posted a quarterback rating of 94.4 for an offense ranked 30th in the league.

That's not Tebow's style. A backup quarterback with his dignity and grace would never point out that he's not quite as terrible as his co-workers.