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Tebow as Backup to Sanchez Doesn’t Improve Jets’ Title Chances

Tim Tebow’s switch to backup for Mark Sanchez from starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos won’t do much to improve the New York Jets’ chances of winning next season’s Super Bowl, oddsmakers said.

While the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver a day earlier slashed the Broncos’ odds of winning the National Football League title to 10-1 from 60-1 less than a month ago, the Jets remain a 25-1 shot after Tebow’s move was confirmed by the clubs last night, once they’d ironed out a contractual snag.

“I don’t see how he makes the Jets a better football team,” Andrew Patterson of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said in a telephone interview. “He’s not going to play quarterback, he’s going to come in maybe on third downs, but if a team signs a really good fullback, does it affect their win total or game lines? No, not really.”

Former Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who led the team to its only Super Bowl championship in 1969, called the trade “a publicity stunt” by New York’s ownership.

“I’m stunned, I’m close to shocked,” Namath told ESPN Radio. “I don’t think they know what they’re doing over there right now. It appears the Jets are trying to grab headlines once again just by making noise.”

Tebow, 24, who was taken by the Broncos in the first round of the NFL draft from the University of Florida two years ago, will add attacking options for the Jets, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said on a conference call with reporters last night.

Jets coach Rex Ryan may use Tebow in offensive packages that feature a running back taking a direct snap, known as the wildcat offense, Tannenbaum said.

Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano incorporated those types of plays when he was coach of the Miami Dolphins and the Jets occasionally used the strategy with former college quarterback Brad Smith to help them reach American Football Conference championship games in 2009 and 2010. Smith moved to the Buffalo Bills before last season.

‘Dynamic Offense’

“Rex has always believed in the wildcat package from a standpoint that it’s another weapon,” Tannenbaum said. “What we’ve become is a more diverse, more dynamic offense that’s going to make it more difficult for teams to defend.”

The Jets missed the playoffs last season, when they lost their final three games amid locker-room disputes to slump to an 8-8 record.

The 6-foot-2, 236-pound Tebow, who won two national college football championships at the University of Florida, rushed for 660 yards and six touchdowns last year, when the Broncos had the league’s top rushing attack.

Four Quarterbacks

Sanchez signed a three-year contract this month, and the Jets agreed March 16 on a contract with backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who played his first four seasons for the Detroit Lions. They also have quarterback Greg McElroy on their roster. The team may retain all four quarterbacks, Tannenbaum said.

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, on his Twitter account, questioned why the team is adding Tebow when it needs to “bring in more weapons” for Sanchez. The Jets’ offense ranked 25th of 32 NFL teams in total yards last season.

Sanchez took criticism after last season for the team’s collapse and there were accusations from teammates that he wasn’t improving enough because he didn’t have a backup who could threaten his place on the team. Tebow said he spoke with Sanchez on the phone yesterday and he expects to have a good relationship with him.

“We’re both extreme competitors,” Tebow said on a conference call with reporters last night. “We’ll be able to push each other to get a lot better and it’ll be my goal to push him to get better and to push myself to get better every day, but I think we’ll have a great working relationship.”

Tebow had a 7-4 regular-season record as a starter last season, helping the Broncos rebound from a 1-4 start to get their first playoff win since 2005.

Favorite Pro Athlete

He was voted America’s favorite active pro athlete in an ESPN fan-based poll in January and spawned a fad known as “Tebowing,” which mimicked his kneel-and-pray pose after victories. He has been outspoken in professing his Christian faith.

“The last two weeks weren’t easy for Tim,” John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Broncos and now their executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement on the team’s website. “He was put in a difficult situation and I commend him for how he handled it.”

While Tebow guided five fourth-quarter comeback wins last season, his 46.5 completion percentage was the worst among the league’s starting quarterbacks. Sanchez completed a career-high 56.7 percent of his passes last season, his third as a starter.

Tebow led the Broncos to a 17-13 victory over the Jets in Denver on Nov. 17 by directing a 95-yard drive in the closing minutes, capped by his game-winning 20-yard touchdown run. He completed nine of 20 passes for 104 yards against the Jets, while rushing eight times for 68 yards.

For the season, Tebow completed 126 of 271 passes for 1,729 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Broncos get fourth- and sixth-round picks in next month’s draft in exchange for Tebow and a seventh-round choice.

Contractual Delay

The trade was confirmed late last night after originally being announced around noon New York time. The deal was delayed when a dispute arose over who would make an advance payment to Tebow of $5 million, ESPN reported. It went through after the teams agreed to split the payment, the network said, without giving a source for its information.

During the interim, ESPN reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars, who play in the area of northeast Florida where Tebow grew up, renewed their earlier unsuccessful efforts to sign the quarterback.

“We had a disagreement on how the advance was going to be handled from our initial trade papers that we sent to them,” Tannenbaum said. “Denver was well within their rights to assess their alternatives when we couldn’t consummate the deal that we initially had agreed to. So they certainly did that.”

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