Letter to Jacksonville: Explaining the Reasons for Tebow on the Jags

Executive Summary

The following is a quick summary showing that acquiring Tim Tebow is the best move for the Jaguars this season. The corresponding paragraph can be referenced in the letter.

1)      Tim Tebow (33.4 QBR) is a better quarterback than Blaine Gabbert (22.9 QBR).

2)      Current player development is not a concern with Tebow.

3)      Tebow is a great leader.

4)      The stadium will be filled when Tebow is here.

5)      Tebow is not a gimmick and there will be fans that stay long-term.

6)      How should this be handled after the season?

7)      There will be limited backlash if the team needs to cut him for poor performance.

8)      Tim Tebow turned around a 1-4 team. We should see if he can do it again.

9)      The Jaguars are in a different situation than the Broncos, Jets, and Patriots.

10)  It is possible for Caldwell and Bradley to change their tune without losing credibility.

11)  The opportunity out-weighs the risk.

Dear Jacksonville,

This is my attempt to show why acquiring Tim Tebow is the most intelligent move for the Jaguars this season. I know Tebow makes people a bit crazy, but I ask you to put your preconceived notions aside, and hear what I have to say. Also, I want to start off by saying that I think that Dave Caldwell is a very good general manager and that he made the best decision and said the right things based on the information he had. I’m not trying to make the Jaguars or anyone in their organization look bad. My goal is to dispel the negativity surrounding the Jaguars and Tim Tebow in hopes that people will see the opportunity the team has. I really believe this is a win-win scenario.

(1)    First, Tim Tebow is a better quarterback than Blaine Gabbert. How can I make that statement? See Figure 1. Yards per play is the most telling statistic of a player’s productivity. It is a basic way of asking, “How well does this player move the football?” This is what matters in an offense. Also, turnovers and ability to score touchdowns are important. All of these, Tebow does better than Gabbert (he is more clutch, too). Gabbert’s only advantage over Tebow is completion percentage, but what good is a 3 yard pass on 3rd and 12? Most people count out Tebow because he is unconventional, but in reality he is productive as a starter. He looks bad by most people’s standards because they don’t see what they are looking for in a traditional quarterback. He needs to run an offense where he can run, but if given the opportunity he can move the ball better and turn the ball over less than Blaine Gabbert. For the Jaguars, it does not matter how good Tebow is compared to other NFL quarterbacks. The decision is based on if the Jaguars have a quarterback of the future on their roster. Most would agree the answer is no. I could go into all the reasons why Gabbert has no future, but I will spare you.Figure 1: Comparing Tebow and Gabbert

(2)    I know this brings up the question, what about the development of other players? If the Jaguars don’t run a conventional offense, then how can the other players progress? Let me answer that question with two questions. Is the players’ development being helped with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback? Did the players on the Broncos regress because Tebow was on the team? Tebow actually helped the players develop on the Broncos because he is a better leader and he has shown he can throw the ball down field better than Gabbert (see explosive plays and yards per attempt). Demaryius Thomas started playing much better with Tebow.

(3)    Tebow is a leader. Most people around him turn out better because of it. He inspires people. I don’t see Blaine Gabbert inspiring anyone. Tebow’s body language is always good. He never gives up even when situations look hopeless. Anyone who has been led well knows how valuable a great leader can be. Meanwhile Blaine Gabbert, whom Bradley called a “people pleaser”, gets nervous because he is afraid of failure. It is good he wants to make people happy, but it does not inspire people. It’s not the attitude you want in your quarterback.

(4)    Third, the stadium will be filled when Tebow is here. Tebow is from Jacksonville, and he is loved by many people.  Also, he is such a lightning rod that people will want to see what happens. It has been a constant debate ever since he was in college. Can Tebow play in the NFL? I don’t doubt that people will want to see what happens. Plus, I think many Jaguars fans are so bored this season, they will get excited.

(5)    This brings up the question, will the fans stay? Is this just a gimmick? Won’t Tebow fans just leave after he leaves? Many people think that “real” Jaguars fans have already been established. How can Tebow add to a “real” fan base? That is the wrong way to look at it. It isn’t “us” and “them”. Rather every time you put something interesting or exciting on the field, some people stick, and every time you put garbage on the field some people fall away. When I was a youngster in 1995, Jacksonville got the expansion team. Our team was not very good, but the city was excited. I fell in love with the Jaguars, and 19 years later I am still a fan. If the fans are going crazy about Tebow and people have a good time, then some people will jump on and stay on (especially if we have good years after Tebow). How many kids will fall in love with the team? It is true some won’t, but the point is that some will, and this opportunity should not be wasted. It just takes one great day at the stadium to fall in love. This doesn’t mean a team should go through all sorts of extremes to make things “exciting” every year by relying on gimmicks. That would be foolish. It is just when something like this falls into your lap, you might as well take advantage of it. This is a unique scenario considering the current state of the team and what Tebow brings. Tebow isn’t a gimmick because arguably he is a better football player than Blaine Gabbert. He adds intangibles Gabbert does not have. He is an experiment with little risk. It is an investment in the future fan base.

(6)    Next question, what do you do after the season? How can you sign him if you don’t believe he is the long term starter? I say you start him until the fans stop following. As long as the fans are excited, the players will be excited because they like the big stage. I’m pretty sure the fans will stop being excited if he is bad, so we don’t need to worry about being stuck with him. Most people in Jacksonville want Tebow on the team, but most people in Jacksonville are not cult-followers. Meanwhile, you continue to develop the roster. Even if he wins a few games as long as the fans are excited keep him after this season. This doesn’t mean you can’t develop another quarterback under him. Do what the Broncos were going to do. They were going to keep him as starter, but then Peyton Manning became available. Even when we do draft a quarterback next year it would be good to have a transition period that people are interested in. Tebow could be the perfect steward until we find our all-pro. Remember, Tebow requires very little financial investment.

(7)    What about the backlash? If he is not that good and the team cuts him? I do not think this is an issue. Most people in Jacksonville like Tebow, but like I said, most are not cult-followers. I highly doubt it will be a big deal if they cut him if he is playing poorly. People will be all about him when he is playing decent, but if he isn’t making big plays and we are losing I don’t think even Tebow would keep many followers. Also, if we have a stud rookie that is way better, then fans will want to see the rookie play.

(8)    How can Tebow add anything? Aren’t the Jaguars so bad that it wouldn’t make a difference? Look at what he did in Denver. He took a 1-4 team that was pathetic, and he provided the spark for them to believe they could win. Will he do this again? We should find out.

(9)    Tim Tebow was traded away, and then he was cut twice. Why would we want a quarterback like him? Don’t Elway and Belicheck know more? I think we are in a very different situation than those teams. Peyton Manning replaced Tebow in Denver. I would be all for having Manning over Tebow, but we don’t have that option. New England has Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet, who are both very good. They had no reason to keep Tebow. I would take Mallet or Brady, but we don’t have that option. As far as New York, I don’t think they gave him a legitimate shot, and the franchise was in turmoil. Plus, he carried a larger contract than he would now. In summary, if the Jaguars had a quarterback like Manning, Brady, or even Mallet I would say not to sign him, but we don’t. The Jaguars are in a very different situation. We are quarterback poor, and Tebow carries a low price tag.

(10) The hardest part is to get Bradley and Caldwell to change their direction without them losing credibility. But it won’t be hard for them to change their tune after Gabbert plays another terrible game. They can easily spin it, “We said those things to give Gabbert every opportunity, and now that we have done that, we are going in another direction.” That happens all the time in the NFL.  A point comes when they will start losing credibility defending Gabbert. Ultimately, I think Caldwell would be praised for the move. Plus, I think deep down most the players don’t believe in Gabbert even though they say they do. The news might be a breath of fresh air to them.

(11)Now I want to stress that this isn’t about “it will work” vs. “it won’t work”. Again, that is the wrong way to look at it. It’s risk vs. opportunity. Everyone wants to predict what will happen, but my point is that we should find out what would happen because there are legitimate reasons to do it. I think we need to be humble about it and stop being prophets. It shouldn’t be seen as a gimmick, but as a try out.

Figure 2: Popular Opinion of the Quarterback Situation in Jacksonville

Figure 2: Popular Opinion of the Quarterback Situation in Jacksonville

Ultimately, the question comes down to, “Is Tebow comparable to Gabbert?” If he is, which I believe  he is, then the best decision is to give him a shot because the Jaguars have a greater business opportunity with Tebow (most people agree: see Figure 2). Could it fail? Yes, but we will be no worse off than if nothing is done. We would actually be better off because we didn’t leave a question unanswered. Enough evidence indicates that it could turn out very well to justify signing Tim Tebow. Plus if he fails, the Tebow haters could once and for all say they were right. Again, this isn’t about saving the Jaguars. It is about taking advantage of an opportunity. It is a good PR move. It is a good football move. It is good for the city, good for the team, and good for the NFL. I never mentioned merchandise sales and national media exposure.

Sincerely,

Eric Holshouser

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