Tim Tebow Can Change The Game In Cincinnati
By Jason Henry
The Cincinnati Bengals are set at the quarterback position with Andy Dalton.
In fact, Dalton is so entrenched as the Bengals franchise signal-caller that he dyed his hair orange. (OK, so maybe that last part has some inaccuracies in it because Dalton is a natural redhead, but liberties must be taken every so often.) Behind Dalton, the Bengals have Josh Robinson, John Skelton and former Oklahoma State star Zac Robinson on the depth chart – not exactly a who’s-who at the position with established NFL credentials. Each will compete in training camp for a chance to wear a slick Bengals’ baseball cap while holding a brown square clipboard on the sidelines during the regular season.
But even with that logjam following Dalton, none have the distinct skill set of Tim Tebow.
Late last month, Tebow was finally given his walking papers by the New York Jets. He didn’t receive much playing time when he was in New York and, as the team tries to move toward a new direction that doesn’t surround the team in as much hysteria, Tebow was no longer in the plans.
Now that he no longer has an NFL city to call home, he’s been pounding the pavement with promotional appearances and speaking engagements. While it’s not a bad lick for a retired NFL player, Tebow still has aspirations to play at the highest level. That is exactly why the Bengals should explore adding him as a reserve quarterback.
Last season the Bengals ranked 28th in the league in third-down efficiency (32 percent). To make matters worse, Cincinnati turned just four third downs into first downs per game – the 26th-best mark in the NFL.
If the team decides to bring Tebow in, he may serve as their “third-down specialist” because he has the ability to push the pile on third-and-short. Tebow’s strength and size should help the Bengals bring their porous third-down percentage up a few slots. In addition to his fullback-like skills behind center, Tebow may also run a slightly different version of the popular read option offense in Cincinnati. As the starter in Denver a couple of seasons ago, Tebow rushed for 660 yards and six touchdowns.
He’s accurate enough to complete short, tight throws and big enough to drag a defender or two with him on third down. San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick and Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III proved that Tebow’s style of offensive play can be a plus in the NFL, even if Tebow lacks the passing prowess of the other two players.
In no way should Cincinnati consider him as a starter – that’s why they have Dalton. Tebow isn’t starter quality and the Bengals would probably take a step back if he were to start. What he does offer is the opportunity to diversify – sending him out in varied offensive packages about four or five times per game to throw off opposing defenses. Whenever an opponent is spending time gameplanning for Tebow, it means they are not spending it on A.J. Green - which is obviously a plus for Cincinnati.
Tebow may end up being the difference in the Bengals defeating the likes of the Houston Texans in the playoffs – or the Baltimore Ravens for the division title – because victories (not to mention postseason appearances) can often ride on a team’s ability to convert one or two pivotal third-and-short opportunities at key moments.