Fellow Jacksonville Jaguars fans, do me a favor: Knock it off with the Tim Tebow talk.
Look, I lived in Jacksonville for four years, during Tebow's rise from Nease High School phenom to University of Florida legend, so I know well the First Coast's deep love for him. And I was a Jaguars season-ticket holder, so I understand the city's passion to again see an NFL winner. But using the White House's petition system to try to coerce the Jaguars into signing Tebow is absurd.
This is the NFL -- not high school, not the SEC -- and unfortunately for Tebow, his run-first, wobbly-pass-sometimes game doesn't translate to football's highest level. I don't understand any Jaguars fan who complains about Blaine Gabbert yet begs for Tebow. Why? Gabbert's 53.8 completion percentage is light years better than Tebow's 47.9. And if Tebow is mobile enough to elude any pass rush, why was he sacked 33 times -- just seven less than dance-happy Gabbert -- in 2011? And Tebow attempted just 271 passes that season, compared to Gabbert's 413.
Fans' main argument for Tebow is that he simply wins games, which the Jaguars admittedly haven't done much in recent seasons. But Tebow isn't playing against St. Augustine High School or Ole Miss anymore. He's facing the world's best football players, who spend every waking second studying tape, searching for any weakness in an opponent. Surely they see what I do in Tebow: a slow windup, an inability to look off defenders, an instinct to tuck and run at the first hint of pressure. All these traits are trouble for an NFL quarterback (remember Vince Young, Jaguars fans?).
Don't paint me as another Tebow hater. I'm far from it. I admire Tebow's commitment to his religion and his community and the positive message he spreads. And I actually feel bad for Tebow, who has been mishandled from Day 1 of his NFL career. The Denver Broncos made him a first-round draft pick, which automatically put pressure on him to start, then traded him to the New York Jets, who seemed more interested in jersey sales than actually having Tebow challenge Mark Sanchez. Jaguars owner Shad Khan's public revelation that he also tried to trade for Tebow didn't help matters.
In the end, the Jaguars would wind up using Tebow exactly as the Jets did. Tebow would sell jerseys and fill seats in Jacksonville, but the fan pressure to play him would stymie a franchise that has too many other problems. Tebow won't cure the Jaguars' sick pass rush. He won't help a secondary that's short on experienced playmakers. He won't give Maurice Jones-Drew the backfield mate he sorely needs. Instead, Tebow would be a distraction for the Jaguars, who don't need calls for a new quarterback, like when fans cried for David Garrard, Quinn Gray and, gulp, Matt Jones to take over from Byron Leftwich.
Follow Justin Hathaway on Twitter @nflnewshound