Tim Tebow surprised by attention, skirts question about starting QB job

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
It's only a matter of time before Tebow's the starting quarterback, right? (AP/Getty Images)

For some reason, Jets head coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson all agreed that the benefits Tim Tebow brings to New York (as a part-time player, mind you) outweigh the myriad costs, chief among them: the inevitable conversations that begin "So, when do the Jets replace Mark Sanchez with Tebow?"

This is a team that Ryan admitted fell apart down the stretch (in case the very public Week 17 implosion in Miami wasn't evidence enough), and one he promised to overhaul. "This past season, 8-8 clearly is not good enough," Ryan said in January, a day after the Jets' season ended. "We did have some issues where, obviously, I never did a good enough job of recognizing it and fixing it, but we're fixing it right now. There's no doubt about that.”

Two months later and neither words nor actions support that claim. On Wednesday, cornerback Darrelle Revis called the locker room in "disarray right now" and that comes days after the Jets officially acquired Tebow.

On Friday, Tebow's Big Apple media blitz continued. During an appearance on ESPN 1050 he spoke again about the spectacle that the trade that brought him to the Jets.

"I guess it was probably a bigger deal, the whole press conference, than I anticipated," he said via the Newark Star-Ledger's Jenny Vrentas. We find this hard to believe. Either way, Tebow was asked -- again -- about whether he considers himself a starting quarterback. And again, he skirted the issue like an old pro accustomed to sticking to talking points regardless of the question. "Well, more than anything," he answered, "I think of myself as a competitor."

Uh-huh. And at some point, perhaps two or three weeks into the 2012 season after Sanchez plays poorly, discussions about Tebow's place on the depth chart will intensify.

"My No. 1 job is to go in there and find a way to make this team a little bit better," Tebow said when asked if he had a chance to compete with Sanchez for the job.

The Jets have made it clear that Sanchez is their guy and that Tebow will primarily be used as a wildcats specialist. But that all goes out the window if Sanchez's 2012 season resembles his 2011 effort.

“I think Mark is very secure as a football player and as a person,” Tebow said. But maybe the Jets' intentions were to do exactly what many people fear: push Sanchez into being the franchise quarterback they thought they traded up for in the 2009 draft. And if it doesn't work, they'll cut their losses and move on. And that's fine, but is this the best way to go about it?

This is a rhetorical exercise; the Jets would never admit to such a strategy even if it were true. So we're left to talk about Tebow and his seemingly unavoidable ascension to the starting job.

"I definitely consider myself a quarterback," he said Friday, "but at the same time, I take pride in being a football player." Translation: Tebow doesn't sound like he's given much thought to changing positions. Which means it's only a matter of time before he's the Jets' starting quarterback.

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