Tebow era comes to whimpering close in New York

Ill-conceived from the start, poorly executed to the end and completely mismanaged at every turn, the Tim Tebow era in New York has come to a whimpering — and merciful — end.

A little more than a year after Tebow was welcomed to the Jets with a news conference so crowded that it had to be held in the team’s gargantuan field house, the news of Tebow’s release came in a three-paragraph news release that was emailed to the media early Monday morning, just after the Jets had informed Tebow of their decision.

It was the end of yet another foolhardy move by a franchise filled with them over much of the recent past. Tebow was never a good fit to begin with, even though it was unanimously decided by team owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum, coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano that there was plenty of upside to the Wildcat quarterback.

Their logic went as follows: Let’s bring in a player with a unique skill set, a guy who can offer a changeup to Mark Sanchez’s pocket-passer style to throw opposing defenses off and create a unique dynamic for the Jets’ moribund offense. But their calculations failed to take into account the potential damage it would do to Sanchez, who was jittery to begin with after a turnover-filled 2011 season in which the Jets flamed out down the stretch to finish 8-8. The group also failed to grasp just how much of a distraction that Tebow would become, especially after he had captured the imagination of the country with his remarkable run to the playoffs with Denver the year before he was traded.

Miscast from the outset, the Jets never found a consistent spot for Tebow, mostly because Sparano, who was calling plays full-time for the first time in his NFL career, didn’t know when to use him. How often would we see Tebow come in after Sanchez had completed a big pass downfield, only to stall on the next play and completely interrupt any rhythm Sanchez might have created.

Not only did Sparano fail to develop a meaningful role for Tebow, who amounted to little more than window dressing for an offense that grew more pathetic by the week, but Sanchez’s confidence had shattered by the end of the season. Even when Ryan finally pulled the plug on Sanchez as the starter, he didn’t turn to Tebow, who had been proclaimed as Sanchez’s primary backup throughout the season. He turned to third-stringer Greg McElroy, a sure sign that Tebow’s days with the Jets were over.

The craziness started from Day 1 in training camp, when ESPN provided minute-by-minute coverage of Tebow. Never seen anything like it before. You actually had live shots of training camp drills, and there were daily reports from Sal Paolantonio about what Tebow did, how the coaches felt about him, and what the Jets planned to do with him.

In all, Tebow attempted just eight passes and had 32 rushing attempts. So he touched the ball less than three times per game, on average. It was a laughable misuse of the quarterback, further underscoring why the move was a mistake from the start.

Newly hired general manager John Idzik was left to clean up the mess, and he completed that task yesterday. Idzik had initially kept his plans with Tebow close to the vest, making it appear the Jets were intent on keeping him into training camp. What he was really doing was trying to recoup some of the draft-pick damage incurred in dealing for Tebow with one final attempt to get something in return. The Jets had surrendered fourth- and sixth-round picks for Tebow, and Idzik waited to see if he could get something in return by offering him up for trade.

No one bit.

Not a surprise, considering there was no meaningful market for Tebow. After all, what team is going to give up a draft pick — even a seventh-rounder — for a player they’re not sure can be a successful quarterback at this level? Even that miracle run with the Broncos in 2011, when he took over from Kyle Orton and got Denver to the playoffs, didn’t do enough to convince teams that Tebow could be a capable long-term quarterback.

Tebowmania has finally run its course, a failed one-year experiment that went hopelessly awry and kept the Jets that much further from turning into a respectable football operation. Time to take down the circus tent and get on to the business of running a team like it’s supposed to be run.