Westhoff, who retired following 12 years with the Jets, said in a radio interview today that Tebow’s skill set limited how he could be used and the team never instituted offensive plays to capitalize on his abilities.
Bruce Speight, a Jets’ spokesman, declined to comment on Westhoff’s remarks.
The Jets finished 6-10, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. They since have fired General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine also left for the same job with the Buffalo Bills.
Tebow joined the Jets in an offseason trade after leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs a year ago. He was brought in to run New York’s wildcat offense, a package featuring runs and passes by the quarterback that are used to confuse defenses. Tebow, who rushed for 660 yards in 2011, also played under Westhoff on special teams and had few opportunities on offense. He completed six of eight pass attempts and rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries.
“As an NFL quarterback, he’s very limited in some things,” Westhoff said. “If you throw him right in the middle of a drop-back passing offense, he will look very, very average at best. But if you incorporate him in different facets of your offense I think he can be a factor. That’s what I felt we were going to do but we never did it.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters in March that Tebow would run the wildcat and be used in other capacities.
“Let’s not just look at him as a quarterback,” Ryan said at the time. “I look at him as a football player.”
The team never got around to even practicing the wildcat, Westhoff said.
“It was a mess,” Westhoff said. “It was an absolute mess.”
Westhoff complimented Tebow’s play on special teams and during practice, and said he provided encouragement after the 25-year-old was passed over for a late-season starting role when Mark Sanchez was benched.
“It was a shame to see him, you saw a demeanor change, you saw that swagger that got out of him a lit bit, and that was very disheartening to see that,” Westhoff said.
Sanchez led New York to the conference championship game in his first two National Football League seasons after being taken No. 5 in the 2009 draft. This season the 26-year-old had an NFL- high 27 turnovers, including 18 interceptions.
“I believe Mark was a manageable quarterback as part of a good football team,” Westhoff said. “Then all of the sudden the burden was thrust on Mark and that’s too much for him.”
Westhoff also criticized the Jets’ salary cap situation. Sanchez, who was given a contract extension last March, is guaranteed $8.25 million next season and the Jets would face a $17.1 million salary cap hit over the next two years if they cut him.
“If you don’t budget your team well, you can destroy the middle and bottom of your football team,” Westhoff said. “That’s kind of what happened to us, it happened, and it’s tough when you’re paying a handful of guys 40 percent of your salary cap. What are you going to do with the rest of them?”
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