Urban Meyer Couldn’t save Tim Tebow
One of the biggest stories in the NFL this offseason was the Jacksonville Jaguars signing Tim Tebow to play tight end for the team. Tebow had played the only quarterback during his time in college football and the NFL previously, so the position change was quite the news.
But Jacksonville ended Tebow’s dream of coming back to play a new position when he was released as part of the team’s first roster cuts of the preseason. The 34-year-old hasn’t said if he was planning to try to make another roster, though it doesn’t seem likely.
“We knew that was an uphill battle for Tim,” said Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer after the release. “Players loved him, locker room loved him, but it was the right thing.”
Tebow signed with Jacksonville after not attempting to make an NFL squad since the 2015 preseason when he played in all four exhibition games with the Philadelphia Eagles but was cut before the regular season began. Tebow played two seasons with Denver at quarterback, taking over the starting role in his second season after winning a playoff game as the starter as a rookie.
He went 7-4 as a starter in his second season, recording 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, but Denver signed Peyton Manning in the 2012 offseason, leading to the team trading Tebow to the New York Jets. He played mainly on special teams for a season with the Jets, then tried to make the New England Patriots roster in 2013 but was cut in the preseason.
After his time in the NFL, Tebow had spent time as a broadcaster on the SEC Network. He also decided to try to catch on in Major League Baseball, signing with the New York Mets on a minor league deal in 2016. Tebow spent four seasons with the organization, moving up from the instructional league to the Mets’ Triple-A squad.
Tebow retired from professional baseball in February and decided to make another go of it with the NFL.
Familiar Coach for Tim Tebow
The biggest reason Tebow signed with the Jaguars was the presence of Meyer, who was Tebow’s coach when he won the Heisman Trophy and two national titles at the University of Florida in the 2000s. Tebow was a sparingly-used freshman in 2006 when the Gators won the title, then moved into the starting role at quarterback the next season.
He threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 895 yards and another 23 scores as he became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. The next season, he led the Gators to another national title. Florida was undefeated in the regular season in Tebow’s senior season but fell to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Tebow finished his college career under Meyer as the SEC’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (57), touchdown responsibility (145), and passer efficiency (170.8). The chance to reunite with his college coach helped pull Tebow back onto the gridiron.
Unfortunately, with so many established tight ends already on the roster, Tebow was caught in a numbers game that was going to force him to contribute on special teams.
Ultimately, Tim Tebow’s presence on the team generated much more media hype than would his contributions on the field. Were it not for the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars could well be projected to come in last place in their division. According to the sportsbook’s NFL division odds, the Jags are +650 to win the NFC South — behind the Tennessee Titans (-125) and the Indianapolis Colts (+140).
Not His Game
Tebow’s inability to be a blocker or make tackles ultimately led to his release. He simply didn’t have enough to be able to stay on the Jacksonville roster.
“Two of the special teams phases are tackling, and if you’ve never tackled (it’s not easy to do),” Meyer said. “Every off day, we’ll have a two- or three-hour meeting about roster management. We expect to be very good in special teams. The tight end position is one of those and tailback — if he can’t contribute on special teams, that’s a tough go.”
For his part, Tebow was at peace with the move, which likely ends his professional athletic career.
“Thankful for the highs and even the lows, the opportunities, and the setbacks,” Tebow wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never wanted to make decisions out of fear of failure, and I’m grateful for the chance to have pursued a dream.
“Thank you to the Jaguars organization and everyone who has supported me in this journey. And we know that … God works all things together for good. Romans 8:28.”