JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the Jaguars first announced they were signing Tim Tebow, my biggest concern was that he wouldn’t be good enough to make the team, but Urban Meyer would keep him on the roster because of his fondness for Tebow the person.
Tuesday’s decision to waive Tebow in the first line of cuts is very good news for the way Meyer is going about his business as an NFL head coach.
Meyer has already hit some speedbumps in his first year in the NFL, the kind of missteps that you would expect from a coach who has never worked in the league.
The Tebow decision was not one of them.
You can argue that Tebow was taking up a roster spot of a player who deserved to be given a chance, but it was clear he wasn’t taking up a roster spot of a player who was going to make the team.
Meyer has said that he wants to take subjectivity out of his roster decisions. He implemented a winners/losers day at camp where the player who won each individual matchup during drills was announced over a speaker. He said last week that he and the coaching staff are grading every player on every play (hardly a novel approach in the NFL) and that the grades will dictate the personnel decisions.
Tebow didn’t have the grades.
It was clear early in camp that he lacked the speed and suddenness to be a legitimate downfield threat in the passing game. So, the other area a tight end can make a difference — blocking — had to be the way Tebow was going to contribute to the offense. It took one preseason game to show that his blocking was a world away from a minimum NFL standard.
The other obstacle for Tebow was his lack of contribution on special teams. If you aren’t a starter in the NFL, you have to be a factor on special teams. Tebow would have to learn to tackle, another skill Tebow never had to develop while playing quarterback or right field.
“Two of the special teams phases are tackling, and he had never tackled. That’s what I found myself and I still find myself, all of us,” Meyer said. “Every off day we’ll have a two- to three-hour meeting about roster management, and it comes down [to that] because we expect to be very good on special teams. The tight end position is one of those [positions], and tailback, if you can’t contribute on special teams, that’s a tough go.”
So, what’s next?
For Tebow, he could be placed on the Jaguars practice squad starting Sept. 1. On Tuesday, I asked Meyer if that was a possibility, and he didn’t say no.
“There’s certainly value at high-end, elite competitors, great people, [someone] people really respect, but we haven’t had that conversation yet,” Meyer said.
Tebow would likely be able to make more money returning to life as a college football broadcaster than he would on the practice squad. Veterans on the practice squad make an annual salary of $204,000. Not a bad living, but likely a pay cut from Tebow’s TV salary.
Would Tebow want to hang out in the locker room and on the practice field with little or no chance of playing in a game? Only Tebow can answer that question until it’s asked of him. We’ll be waiting to see what decisions the Jaguars make on Sept. 1.