It wasn't exactly like the last-minute (or overtime) wins over the Jets, Dolphins or Bears last fall, perhaps more like the major leagues' Home Run Derby last summer. Tim Tebow came out to talk with reporters in the fieldhouse of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today at noon ET, eyed everything that was fired at him and knocked each one out of the park.
"It was fun," Tebow said after finishing his last standup interview at his first media availability in Florham Park, N.J., since coming to the Jets in trade from the Broncos last midweek.
Now the fun really begins as Tebow moves from offseason mode to offseason conditioning program mode with the Jets in mid-April, to OTAs in May, veteran minicamp in June, training camp in late July and the 2012 season in September. But his answers to questions from all different angles this afternoon showed at least that he's got the right mindset to make a go of this newest Jets transaction.
Working with Mark Sanchez?
"From my conversations with him, he was excited about working with me and I'm excited about working with him," Tebow, wearing a sharp gray suit with light-green-patterned tie, told reporters. "I have a lot of respect for him as a football player and a person. He's always handled himself with a lot of class and integrity and won a lot of games as a quarterback. I think we'll have a great working relationship, supporting each other in our roles. I'm excited about that opportunity and hopefully we'll be able to thrive together."
But what about wanting to win the starting job?
"I think for everybody that puts on a uniform, you want to go out there, you want to play. That's why you play football," he said. "That's why I'm excited to be a jet, to go out there and help them anyway I can and expand on my role. Every day in practice I'm going to go out and compete and get better as a quarterback and help this team any way I can."
"I'm Here to Talk About the Jets"
Pressed on going into more detail about his Christian beliefs and offering his views on some hot-button issues of the day, Tebow deftly avoided that rush.
"This is not exactly the platform to share everything I believe," he said. "I'm a Christian follower of Jesus Christ. That's the first and foremost thing in my life. That's the basis of what I believe. It's exciting for me to get opportunities to share that. But at the same time this is a press conference for the New York Jets football team. ... I'm here to talk about the Jets."
He even made light of the sudden national fascination last year, on YouTube and elsewhere, with his kneeling at the ends of games, putting hand to forehead, offering a short prayer, then leaping and running off the field.
"I don't think I'm the first athlete who's gotten on my knee and prayed," he said with a smile. "It's known as Tebowing, I'm not sure why. It's not all a bad thing. If people are talking about prayer and talking about my faith, I think that's pretty cool."
One aspect of today's event that came through several times is that despite Jacksonville being his hometown and the Jaguars showing interest in bringing him home, his many connections with the Jets helped win the trade for the Green & White.
Sanchez? "Mark actually hosted me on my recruiting visit to USC," Tebow said.
Tony Sparano, his new offensive coordinator? "I got to work with Coach Sparano at the Senior Bowl."
Rex Ryan, his new head coach? "We actually have the same agent, and I'm trying to remember the first time we met ... at my pro day we spent some time together, and at the Super Bowl this year we had a great conversation."
How about what he's doing to improve on those throwing mechanics and other QB details? "I think I'm improving every single day. I've been working very hard in Los Angeles with Coach Mazzone." That's Noel Mazzone, UCLA's new offensive coordinator — and the Jets' WRs coach from 2006-08.
One Day at a Time
There are potential pitfalls ahead, such as his relationship with his new teammates in the locker room and his ability to blend in his abilities with the Jets' new/old attack as embodied by Sparano's familiarity with the Wildcat and Ryan's ground-and-pound philosophy.
One thing he doesn't, politely, buy into is the assertion by some that the offense he specialized in as the Broncos' comeback QB last year is dead or dying or neutralized.
"I think one misconception is that people think the Wildcat is a direct snap to a running back, you fake it and run power, outside zone or inside zone," he said. "To have the ability to have five or six people who can touch the ball on every single play, I think it can be confusing, it can make defenses play slow. When you have a great offensive coordinator like Coach Sparano putting together packages and plays, I think it can be effective."
Then Tebow wrapped up those concerns over his fitting in on this Jets team with one short answer to Eric Allen in newyorkjets.com's short sitdown with the Jets' new No. 2 quarterback.
"I think my role depends on how well I practice and how well I perform," he said. "I have to go out and earn the guys' respect one day at a time and make this team a little better."
Either way, Tebow said he can't wait to engage with Jets fans, the new ones he inherits by donning his new green and white laundry as well as the older ones he's bringing with him.
"I know they're very passionate fans and they support their team to the Nth degree," he said. "I'm very excited to go into that stadium and see what it's all about." All in due time, Tim.