I would have, as an NFL GM, been a little leery of Peyton Manning; as Bill James once said about signing Barry Bonds after the Giants let him go, “I don’t believe in his future, I’m not convinced of his value in the present, and I’m not interested in the past.” Of course, the parallel is far from exact because the upside on Peyton is much higher; a QB of Manning’s caliber can have the same kind of impact in 16 games than a great baseball player can have in 162 (let alone 120 games of an old Bonds with no defensive value.) But still — with his serious neck injuries it’s unclear if he’s still Peyton Manning even if he’s healthy, and there seems a pretty good chance that he won’t stay healthy. For a good team with a remotely acceptable QB, signing Manning wouldn’t really make sense. But for the Broncos, the beauty of it is that there’s a positive opportunity cost; getting rid of Tebow (for draft picks and cash!) is a major positive in itself, and if Manning happens to have a couple more big years left it’s a major bonus.
For the same reason, despite the inevitable revisionism the Jets trading for Tebow — unless they don’t care about anything but maximizing short-term revenues — doesn’t make a shred of sense:
- This idea of bringing him in as a Wildcat QB…if the Jets thought this had more than trivial benefits even if it works, they would have just kept Brad Smith, who unlike Tebow has proven that he’s good at it.
- And whatever gains you get will be mitigated by the fact that this turns the QB situation into a circus in an intense media market. Giving Brad Smith a few snaps didn’t make people clamor to put him in the starting lineup.
- And if Tebow is going to get more like 10-20 snaps a game even while he’s a backup…so you’re saying that Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano can create and implement two different offenses that will work simultaneously. Sure. And Erick Erickson is going to write the new Federalist Papers.
- This isn’t to say that Mark Sanchez is particularly good. He’s not, and the Jets should have been looking around for alternatives. Sanchez for the last two years has been 28th in DVOA, 1% above average in 2010, about 5% below this year. Mediocre, but not awful. In Tebow, the Jets have managed to acquire a QB who’s substantially worse than that while only being a year younger — nearly 20% below average DVOA. Sanchez regressed dangerously close to replacement level; Tebow needs a telescope to even see replacement level.
- And don’t tell me that this is because Sanchez had good weapons to work with. The Jets had one quality receiver — one a perennial contender couldn’t wait to get rid of — backed up by a bunch of guys who were done or had no ability in the first place. The tight end and running game are mediocre at best. The left side of the offensive line is overrated and the right side a sieve (something they better have ideas about improving if they’re going to play Tebow.)
- And if the argument is that Tebow Just Wins Football Games, well, in that respect Sanchez is what Tebow is supposed to be. He guided a team to an 11-5 season. He’s won four playoff games on the road — two as a rookie! — and was pretty decent in the two postseason games he lost. Tebow did play well in one playoff game, but deprived of the Broncos’ MVP in that game (Dick LeBeau) the next week he made one of the worst past defenses in the league look like the ’85 Bears. Despite this a lot of Jets fans want Sanchez’s head on a pointed stick — and not without reason! But saying that Tebow is better because of his clutchitude is self-refuting.
- And nor would it make any sense for the Jets to acquire Tebow to play some other position (although, to their credit, they don’t seem to be doing this.) He doesn’t have anywhere near the speed to be an NFL running back. I forget who brought up Aaron Hernandez in comments, but…let’s wait until he establishes any ability to catch passes at all before we start comparing him to one of the best TEs in the game, shall we? It’s like speculating that Ichiro Suzuki could be converted to a pitcher — great athlete! great arm! — and then saying he could be the next Roy Halladay.
The Jets have created a huge distraction for a team that needs a lot fewer distractions, in order to bring in a guy who hasn’t shown that he even deserves an NFL job. Great work!