When you live on the same block
Everyone seems to be weighing in on the Jacksonville Jaguars signing of Head Coach Urban Meyer’s personal “pet project” Tim Tebow. At age 34 (in Aug) and eight years removed from his last meaningful appearance in the NFL, the Jags have decided to make Tebow a tight end just to get him in the building, I’ll let you decide if Tebow has anything left in the tank, but I have more than a little doubt. If the rumors are true, there is anything but a solid consensus on the move from within the Jaguars own ranks. Not that everyone even needs to be on the same page when it comes to something like this, but this one doesn’t really pass the smell test for me.
Coach Meyer’s decision has created a buzz and might even sell a few tickets or jerseys for a home preseason game come August, but due to either his not caring or just his lack of internal awareness, I would guess has also caused an equal negative reaction within his own facility that has many, including more than a few players (according to twitter), shaking their collective heads.
Playing the tight end position in the NFL, even as a backup, takes not only size and strength, but also a skill set that can’t be created just by flipping a switch and/or having “want-too”. Hands, the ability to catch in traffic while being covered, speed, quickness, body control, a feel for beating coverage and flat out instincts for the job are just a few of the traits that one looks for in order to qualify and hold this job at the NFL level, with a degree of success. It should also be mentioned that the backup TE will also have to produce on special teams in order to be active on game day. All of these categories I’ve mentioned will be easy to evaluate once he’s on the field.
What I would be most concerned with, if I was a Jaguars fan, is that for the second time in five short months, and before ever coaching a down of NFL football, Meyer has turned a deaf ear to those in his own building as well as his locker room. Instead, he has elected to add a lightning rod to his own culture of team building. On the heels of an ill-fated February decision to hire former University of Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle (for one day before he resigned after public backlash) on the heels of Doyle’s messy firing and multiple claims of player abuse at Iowa, Meyer is saying once again, “I know what’s best and it’s my team.”
This is not about money (it will be a minimum salary signing), its all about credibility in my opinion. I smirked when I heard Meyer say in an interview that his staff has worked out Tebow 3 times and he was not even there for two of those workouts. This was his way of passing the buck, just in case it doesn’t work out, and saying there are others who are really recommending this signing.
What I feared most about the Meyer hiring in Jacksonville was that he would come in as the new sheriff in town and anoint himself as John Wayne. In college, he can get away with bullying his way thru the media, and any other hurdles he might face. Everything a college coach does or says is “the gospel” for fans of their programs. Very few 17-year-olds are going to challenge his authority or question his decisions. Well, welcome to the new frontier of the National Football League coach, where coaches, staff and players all get to decide for themselves what’s best for their team. The Kool-Aid had better taste good before they decide to drink it.
Tim Tebow will not have one ounce of respect in the locker-room as a leader, or a player, because of anything his coach says or any speech he gave in college. Leading men at this level is totally different than trying to win the SEC East. Tebow’s acceptance will be 100% determined by what he does when he straps on the pads, especially after eight years away from the game. All eyes will be on him from the first time he steps on the field. Not to mention the many microphones that will await every word he says. Here is the other part that might warrant some concern…Will Meyer have the guts to cut him if it’s clear to all that he is not as good as some other TE’s or fullbacks on the roster? Time will tell.
This is just my opinion, but Meyer’s credibility in his own locker room is at stake here. He used up some of his own capital in the Chris Doyle debacle. Now, unless Tebow turns out to be something special, something none of us see currently, as a tight end, this will be another swing and miss of Meyers cache.
The reason this one is so different is that most see this as a favor signing. One man’s public stamp on a player from his past is nothing new, but Meyer is trying to find some level of credibility and build up some chips in the world of the NFL and it risky when the doubters come from your own locker room. It can’t be done by demanding he knows best and carrying a big stick.
The coach is really no different than the player in this instance. Nobody is buying what Meyer is selling until he proves he can win on the field in the AFC South. I don’t think Tebow furthers that cause and by seeing some of the tweets of current players, this move is drawing more than a few chuckles from around the league.