Tim Tebow began his career as Mark Sanchez's backup on Friday night, donning the Green and White for the first time as the Jets kicked off their preseason with a 17-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The most popular backup athlete in American spots history led the Jets' second offense for four possessions, and what we saw from Tebow under center was essentially what we saw from him for most of last season as the Broncos' starter: inaccurate passing but the ability to make something out of nothing with his feet. Basically, Tim Tebow played like Tim Tebow.
He finished the day completing half of his eight passing attempts for 27 yards, connecting with rookie Stephen Hill for a 12-yard gain on his first pass. Tebow also threw a pick, an ugly one at that, but did lead the Jets down the field for half of their robust scoring output of six measly points. Rushing is what Tebow does best, and he looked good doing so, leading Gang Green with 34 yards on four scrambles.
But as with most of preseason football, there really isn't too much to take from Tebow's performance, the simple reason that unless Sanchez gets hurt or is wildly and disgustingly awful, Tebow isn't going to be playing under center. We didn't see him in the Wildcat, and we most likely won't until Week 1 against Buffalo. That's what Tebow's real impact will be on the Jets this season. All we saw on Friday is what the Jets would look like on offense if Sanchez gets hurt; and it's basically what the Broncos looked like last year. Unless Tebow makes a dramatic leap as a pocket quarterback, he's just not going to be a guy you can count on to consistently put up points.
As for the Jets' actual starting quarterback, Sanchez was sacked twice and finished 4-of-6 for 24 yards; hardly numbers that are going to excite anybody. Again, you'd be foolish to put much stock at all into anything that happens in the preseason, but for those Sanchez critics who are looking for fuel, I guess they'd be able to spin his game on Friday in their favor. But let's be honest, the first game of any preseason is akin to scrimmage.
We'll get a much better idea of how the Jets' offense has changed, improved, or if it has done either of those things, as the preseason wears on a bit. As usual, the third preseason game of the year is the best barometer, which for the Jets comes on Aug. 26 when they host the Carolina Panthers. But as the preseason is now underway, the Jets' quarterback situation remains the same; Sanchez is the rightful starter.