Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Is It Time for “Tebow Time” in Tampa Bay?

This offseason will not be short on drama. Sports radio and television will have a buffet of topics to discuss, as players, coaches, and general managers begin the annual carousel. Rumors of Jon Gruden and Mike Holmgren returning to coaching will definitely generate discussion, and the future of Mike Vick, Steven Jackson, and Alex Smith will generate plenty of buzz.

But nothing will top Tebow-mania.

Tim Tebow is almost certain to be on his way out of New York, and the hot topic for both the average and hardcore sports fan is the future destination of the former Heisman winner. Many reports have surfaced connecting Tebow strongly with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but with so much uncertainty in the Jacksonville front office, it is unlikely that any information on the Jaguars’ future is from a source that has any connections to the staff that will go to work this offseason to try and fix the youngest Florida NFL franchise. So that leaves the door open for other teams to get involved, and while it’s unlikely there is another situation where Tebow can walk in as a day 1 starter, there are certainly some options for the former Gator to compete for playing time.

One that has not been discussed very often, and I believe has some serious potential, is to bring Tim Tebow to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I know there is an entire army of Tebow haters out there. I know there are some people who will simply not be convinced. To be honest, a few weeks ago I was fairly certain I wanted nothing to do with Tebow in Tampa. But allow me to present a couple of key elements that have allowed me to convince myself that a Tebow acquisition worthwhile for the Buccaneers.

Filling a Need

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a need for a second consistent gainer of yardage. Doug Martin is fairly consistent at picking up yards for the offense, but if he’s on the sideline, or the opponent is keying in on the Dougernaut, the Buccaneers could use another option. LeGarrette Blount is the Josh Freeman of running backs; he is not consistent, and has regressed since his premature glory days. He is seemingly unable to find the correct channel to run through unless it is presented to him on a silver platter, and relies very heavily upon broken tackles for success. DJ Ware, Michael Smith, or anyone signed off the street is not going to have a major impact on the offense.

The play of Josh Freeman has called the future of the Buccaneers quarterback into question. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

If Josh Freeman is set to be the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we will undoubtedly continue to see inconsistent play and a lower than average completion percentage. This means that the passing game will never be a consistent gainer of yardage. Tebow provides a running threat that most other NFL quarterbacks do not, as Tebow has averaged 5 yards per carry in his NFL career. There would also be an increase in opportunities for Doug Martin, as the constant threat of a Tebow run would open up more gaps for the Muscle Hamster. Plus, it would let the Bucs name the package the “Wild Hamster,” which would be awesome.

I certainly understand the notion that Freeman could improve, and that he is young enough to further develop his skills. I disagree, but I understand. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s a franchise quarterback option this offseason that makes sense for Tampa Bay. This affords the opportunity to bring in a player like Tebow, and provide competition at the quarterback position to help determine the future of the QB position for the franchise.  Most “experts” would say that bringing in Tebow “undermines” the starting quarterback, and is disruptive for a team. My response to that is…

Do Your Job

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Schiano-isms that I strongly agree with is the notion of every man on the team doing “his job.” We saw punt returners cut and benched all season for failing to cleanly field punts. We saw a player like the aforementioned Blount see a drastic drop in playing time after his fumble in Oakland. Players on the Schiano Buccaneers are expected to live up to the expectations of their positions. Bringing in Tim Tebow would simply be an opportunity for both Freeman and Tebow to do their jobs. Freeman has been provided all the “unopposed” time he deserves, playing ahead of Josh Johnson and Dan Orlovsky and feeling absolutely no threat upon his position. If he is unable to lead the Buccaneers to success with Tebow behind him, it would simply add further evidence to the case regarding his attitude and leadership abilities.

Tebow is the quintessential leader. He provides a strong personality and winner’s mentality. The Buccaneers need as many leaders as they can, as the team transitions from the “Youngry” Buccaneers of the Raheem Morris era, to the “Buccaneer Men” under Schiano. The Denver Broncos of 2011 were led to a playoff victory they would have never achieved under Kyle Orton, and Tim Tebow’s leadership had much to do with the turnaround.

Tebow’s ability to sustain offense and keep the ball in the hands of his team was the other major factor in the Broncos’ success. Under Kyle Orton, the Broncos turned the ball over around 2.5 times per game in 2011, but after Tebow took over, the Broncos only turned the ball over 1.5 times per game. In addition, the Broncos’ time of possession took a 3-minute leap in games that ended in regulation, and that number only grows when the overtime victories are factored in (I held them out of the comparison because there’s more minutes played in overtime games, and it skews the numbers a bit). This is the job that Tebow can do, and it’s a job that the Buccaneers need to hire an employee to help with.

Nothing to Lose

As I mentioned above, if Josh Freeman is unable to claim the quarterback job from Tim Tebow in the hypothetical situation presented in this article, the Buccaneers will have gained more than an alternative at the quarterback position. The Buccaneers would have learned that Josh Freeman is nothing more than his draft classmate Mark Sanchez, a weak leader with subpar skills who will likely never be a true franchise quarterback.

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If Freeman were able to keep a firm grasp on the starting job, the Buccaneers would have a viable option for wildcat packages (which were used previously with Josh Johnson, so Freeman is familiar with the nature of being subbed in and out periodically).  Mark Dominik could then decide on the future of Josh Freeman, and still have Tebow available as a backup, and competition for the future quarterback of the Buccaneers.

Tebow’s presence at One Buc Place would lead to increased ticket sales, jersey sales, and buzz surrounding the team. These are obviously broad generalizations, but the franchise is in a position where the possibility for increased exposure and revenue cannot be taken lightly. The cost of Tebow’s salary is well worth the possibility of Tebow’s presence bringing fans back to Raymond James. There is also a circus that follows Tebow that will undoubtedly be frustrating for Buccaneers fans, but unlike Rex Ryan, Coach Schiano comes from the Belichick school of coaching, and his dry humor will be the only sound bites reporters will get from the Buccaneers about Tebow. “Tim, like the other men on our team, will do his job every Sunday,” would be a weekly appearance on the press conference recap.

If I’m realistic, I would say it’s unlikely that Tim Tebow will be a Buccaneer next season. Tim may not see it as the opportunity he’s looking for, and it’s reasonable to think that the Buccaneers have absolutely no interest. Realism aside, I think it makes perfect sense for the Buccaneers. The likelihood of a move for Tebow does not define it’s viability or potential success, and I believe that Tebow would provide a secondary running option Tampa Bay needs, and a leader’s mentality that Coach Schiano would love.  He would also challenge Josh Freeman, who is at a point in his career where he needs all the motivation he can get, because his youthful promise can quickly turn into missed opportunities. So as you watch television this offseason, and as you scan social media for NFL rumors and news, keep in mind what Tim Tebow might bring to a team, and what the Buccaneers might miss out on if they fail to set their clocks to Tebow Time.

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Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tim Tebow

  • Tony Brown

    Now let me explain to you why this is bullshit.
    1. While Freeman isn’t an elite QB by any means, he’s still pretty good. He actually had a pretty good season until the losing streak.
    2. Even if he’s not a franchise QB, Tebow certainly is no upgrade. No I don’t hate Tebow, but anyone that’s not a fanboy will tell you he sucks.
    3. You point to Freeman’s low completion percentage and how apparently the passing offense is unreliable under him… how is a career 47.9% completion percentage an upgrade?
    4. Did you really compare Freeman to Mark Sanchez? I don’t even know where to start with that. Do you even watch football?
    5. I don’t care much for LeGarrette Blount, but he’s still better than Tebow.
    6. Nothing to lose? How about making the playoffs… or even just being a respectable franchise? Yeah yeah… Tebow made the playoffs blah blah blah. Unfortunately for you, our defense isn’t nearly good enough to carry the team into the playoffs.
    This was the first time I legitimately got mad at something I saw on this site. It’s one thing to question Freeman as the franchise QB, but saying he sucks entirely, has no skills, and can’t lead is just stupid. The even stupider part is suggesting he be replaced with a wannabe QB that can barely even throw a ball.
    I hope for your sake you’re trolling. If you are, good job. If not, start watching football every once in a while.

    • John Flores

      Nicely put Mr. Brown…

    • Todd Headlee

      Tony, anyone who says “Tim Tebow Sucks” and “I don’t hate Tebow” in the same breath is not someone to be trusted or taken seriously. Players who “suck” don’t win Heisman trophies. Players who “suck” don’t set NCAA passing records, OR win NCAA championships. Players who “suck” don’t usually lead an NFL team to their first playoff berth in nearly a decade. Players who “suck” don’t not only help the team beat The Steelers in a playoff game, but also set a Bronco playoff PASSING record in that game. That all being said, no one is going to argue with you that Tim Tebow can’t improve — of course he can — however, it should also be noted that Tim Tebow’s starting season stats surpass many elite Super Bowl quarterbacks in their first starting season — and that includes John Elway, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, and many others. So, discount Tebow all you like, as you’re entitled to your opinion, but don’t confuse it with reality or the facts. Tim Tebow is a 25 year old very accomplished quarterback in his own right, and he didn’t get where he is by “sucking” at what he does. He’ll get another chance in the NFL, hopefully in Jacksonville where he belongs, and crow will be served to all naysayers.

      • Tony Brown

        Perhaps I should clear my statement up… Tim Tebow sucks in the NFL. I didn’t really watch him in college football, so I can’t judge him on that part of his career. But in the NFL, he is just not a good QB. Good leader? Yeah. Good passer? lol no.

  • Leo

    1. He had a good month. And that’s the problem I point out with Freeman, he’s inconsistent and needs someone to challenge him for his job to see if he will be more consistent. He’s only become more inconsistent as his career has gone on.

    2. I never said “Bring in Tebow to replace Freeman.” and if there is a line you believe implies that thought, let me know. The intention of this article is not to bench Josh for Tebow just because he’s Tebow. It’s to provide competition for Josh, and if Josh wins out, to give us a running threat.

    3. See point 2. What Tebow brings to the team isn’t measured in completion percentage. The Broncos did just fine with his awful completion percentage.

    4. I do watch football. Mark Sanchez had an absolutely gutted offense this year, with no talent around him. Without Mike Williams, VJax, and Doug Martin to bail him out, what would Josh’s season have looked like? And I didn’t compare them in the article, I implied that if Josh was unable to beat Tebow for the job, then he’s not anything more than Mark Sanchez. Is that not true? If he lost out to “awful” Tebow, wouldn’t he be no better than Sanchez? And their (Free and Sanchez) career numbers are much, much closer than you’d think. Much closer.

    5. How so? Tebow’s yards per carry have been better over his career, and while Tebow fumbles a bit more, some of those are due to center/QB exchanges. And in terms of runner’s vision, Tebow beats Blount by a country mile. Blount has no idea where he’s going, and makes plays once he manages to find space.

    6. So when is Josh going to get us to the postseason? I’m waiting. And again, see point 2. This article is not “Bench Josh, Put in Tebow”, it’s to challenge Josh to be better and provide a secondary running option.

    I never said Josh sucks entirely, I said he’s inconsistent (true) and if he were to lose out to Tebow in a QB competition, he would prove to be no better than Mark Sanchez. You obviously saw red with the title and didn’t read the article how it was intended. It’s clear that you support Freeman based on the two comments you’ve left on the site, and that’s fine. If you’re right and Free is the franchise QB, then he would be able to beat Tebow for the job. Brady, Manning, Brees, Stafford, etc. would be able to win the job against Tebow. If Josh is “our guy” then let him win the job. He’s sat around with no competition for far too long.

    Thanks for joining in the discussion. I’m honestly not trolling, I challenge you to read the article again and realize I am not saying “lol josh sux put in teebow!” but rather presenting an option I believe to be beneficial to the Buccaneers.

    • Tony Brown

      My bad bro, I did lash out a bit too much. But you did seem to attack Freeman quite harshly. I’ve often argued on Freeman’s behalf against critics, I never thought I’d have to do it with another Bucs fan. Perhaps I misunderstood, but I still disagree. Take away Freeman’s great month, and you’ve still got around an average season. Considering the new coaches, new players, new system, injuries, etc, he was alright.
      Saying that VJax bailed him out is just so very wrong. Yeah, he’s made some great catches on poor throws, but all great receivers do that. It’s not like Freeman just threw it up for grabs every time. VJax also had perhaps the best season of his career this year. Some of that is due to the Bucs system which doesn’t spread the ball around as much as the Chargers, but Freeman’s had his part too. Freeman also didn’t have Mike Williams and the Dougernaut in 2010, he was still pretty good then. Sanchez has always been terrible, even with good teams around him.
      Tebow has better yards per carry than Blount, but those stats are a bit skewered. Running QBs always have good running numbers. Not only do they not lose yards on negative plays, but they also don’t face as much resistance from defenses because unlike when an RB has the ball, they still have to play the pass, so they can’t attack the running QB as aggresively Scram averages 5.7 ypc over his career. Vick has 7.0 ypc. Even some of the best RBs in the league average around 5 at the most. Would you rather have Vick (career 7.0 ypc) running with the ball than Adrian Peterson (career 5.0 ypc)? If Tebow played RB, his ypc would be a lot lower.
      I’m not completely opposed to bringing in competition. As humans, competition brings out the best in us and makes us work harder. That is especially true for professional athletes, who are the most competitive people on Earth. But if we’re bringing in competition, let’s bring in REAL competition. Tebow wouldn’t be a real threat for Freeman’s starting job. He couldn’t even beat out Sanchez! If we’re bringing in a QB to light a fire under Freeman’s ass, there’s much better QBs available, such as Jason Campbell, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore, etc. There’s also some quality QBs in the draft pool projected to be drafted low. Landry Jones and Collin Klein are good options. Even Dan Orlovsky is a better QB than Tebow.
      I don’t hate Tebow, I even felt bad for him during this year. But he sucks. I know he went to the playoffs with the Broncos, but did you watch their season? The defense would hold opponents to like 10 points a game, and all Tebow had to do is put together one drive a game.
      Anyone will tell you that Freeman has all the tools to be a franchise QB. Did I have my doubts after the 2011 season? Yeah. Did I have my doubts after we got shut out by the Saints? Of course. But I do still believe in him. If nothing else, he’s earned himself one more year to prove himself as a legit NFL QB. Perhaps I misunderstood your article, but I still disagree. I know he can be bad at times, but he’s never Tebow level bad.

      • Leo

        I have to disagree with “Take away Freeman’s great month, and you’ve still got around an average season. Considering the new coaches, new players, new system, injuries, etc, he was alright.” Becuase if you take out the 4 wins in the 5 game stretch where he had 100+ passer ratings, his average for the year was in the low 70′s, putting him in the bottom five of the NFL among eligible players, amongst Chad Henne, Brandon Weeden, and Jake Locker.
        And I watched every game of Tebow’s Broncos season. I am admittedly a huge fan of Tebow. So I could be biased, but I saw him truly change that team. No one is going to say he’s a great thrower of the ball, but the guy hasn’t started a full season worth of games yet. Why is he buried, when a guy like Blaine Gabbert gets a second year (before getting hurt)?

        I just think he’d provide something the team doesn’t have, and allows for flexibility after Josh’s contract year, because if he doesn’t work out, it wont be a massive investment. I think a rookie QB is yet another positive option. That’s the general idea. Don’t bring in a retread. Don’t bring in a saavy veteran okay with sitting on the bench. Bring in someone hungry to compete, and who brings something dynamic and new.

        • Joseph Martinez

          yeah and take out 5 of freemans worst games and he’s up there with brees manning and brady it kinda goes both ways bud.

          • Leo

            I was replying to his comment. He initiated that idea, not me.

  • Joseph Martinez

    For 6 weeks in 2012 Freeman was the best QB throwing 18 tds to only 3 ints during that 6 week span in the NFL look that one up. 27 TDs 4065 yards passing and 17 ints that’s the best season for a buc QB ever or did you not look that up? Sure bad passer rating but in 2012 freeman led the NFL in completions of 40+ yards by like 5… When you’re throwing it deep you’re going to complete less passes. Freeman was 9th in yards in 2012. in 2010 Freeman was a 1st pro bowl alternate 25 tds to only 6 ints forget about that>???? Freeman has had 1 year in this new offense the problem isn’t freeman it’s inconsistency with the coaching staff. Not every QB is going to be tom brady or peyton manning and looking for a player like that is going to cost us to many 1st round picks to count on both hands. You’re column lacks facts or an un-bias perspective. Freeman is a franchise QB he’s easily the best QB in franchise history as is and he’s only 24 years old… I mean how do we give up on a 24 year old QB with 78 TDs(most in franchise history) he’s the only passer in franchise history to get over 4000 yards and that was with a runner who had 1400 yards(2nd all time in franchise history). I’m a tebow fan I love tebow, go gators, but bringing the media circus would be a disruptive force, sure these football players get played alot and deserve your harsh standards but they are human and why invite distraction?> Bad article, bad perspective but that’s just my opinion. I get really heated when people knock such a young guy he hasn’t played his best football and 5 years down the road you’re going to be deleting this article if you didn’t delete it 3 years prior to try and save face, he’s going to be the bucs QB for a long time and next year is going to be his best yet.

  • Nathan Stellman

    He is a winner and a positive person, something that is needed in the Tampa locker room. It will help sell tickets and put the franchise in the media spotlight..Tebow is close to home in a small media market where he can find his way on this team. Schiano is a no bull coach, Tebow will do well under him. To me, this is a no brainer for the Bucs. Use him in a variety of ways, not to directly compete with Freeman..H-Back, take a few snaps a game, line up at receiver a couple times…gimmicks…

  • Sean NJ 973

    to be honest I think that darrell revis would be a good pick up by the buccaneers but they would more then likely have to give him an outrageous contract possibly giving up draft picks or players…There’s no question they need a #1 corner back to help out the pass defense in my opinion i think the bucs should go after a guy younger/versital but who is still a threat at that position and PATRICK PETERSON would be a great candidate while he is a free agent this year…Darrell Revis is good but too much money and possibly injury prone now but Patrick Peterson I think would help also with the return game as well..leave comments tell me wat u think.