Not a lot of Tebow for Jets, but just enough
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Turns out, the Jets didn't need much of Tim Tebow in this one.
The NFL's most popular backup quarterback was on the field for nine plays on offense, including two in the much-hyped wildcat package, as the Jets routed the Buffalo Bills, 48-28, on Sunday in the teams' season opener.
''It was fun,'' Tebow said of his Jets debut. ''To be a part of a win like this is exciting.''
When Tebow was in the true wildcat, starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was split out as a wide receiver. Tebow also had six snaps in the read-option as the quarterback, and one in the slot as a receiver. He finished with 11 yards rushing on five carries and didn't throw a pass.
He was even booed after one play when he failed to gain anything when he took a snap out of the shotgun and ran late in the first half. The stadium video board quickly flashed ''Quiet! Offense At Work!'' as Tebow ran off the field and Sanchez back on.
''After a little bit, we didn't show too much,'' Tebow said of the wildcat. ''We were able to get in there and have some efficient plays. Obviously, we would've liked to break one open, but I think it'll continue to develop.''
The Jets got the crowd at MetLife Stadium buzzing immediately as Tebow lined up in the slot on the team's first play from scrimmage. Sanchez threw incomplete to rookie Stephen Hill, while Tebow ran a route.
The first wildcat formation came three plays later as Tebow lined up in the shotgun with Sanchez as a receiver. Tebow handed off to Joe McKnight for a gain of 3 yards.
Tebow's biggest play actually came late in the game on special teams, when he recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter and ended a late surge by the Bills. It was the first time he recovered a kick, he said, since his freshman year at the University of Florida against Vanderbilt.
How the Jets were planning to use Tebow was the team's biggest mystery heading into the season, with coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano keeping things mostly under wraps. The media watched two wildcat sessions during training camp, but were restricted from reporting details of player deployment.
Ryan said one of the biggest advantages of having Tebow in the offense was forcing opposing defenses to plan for him -- whether the Jets use him for a few plays or a bunch.
''Sometimes it's about that preparation,'' Ryan said. ''As much time as that team spent on the wildcat, maybe it took away from some other preparation. We have that ability and certainly we can do a lot more out of it as well.''
There was plenty of concern about how Sanchez would accept having to come off the field at times while Tebow, acquired from Denver in March, came in and ran the offense. Sanchez has said all the right things leading into the season, saying he has ''bought in'' and just wants to win -- something he thinks Tebow can help them do.
''That's just the tip of the iceberg,'' Sanchez said of the wildcat plays Sunday. ''We've barely seen anything yet, so we've got plenty more in our grab bag of wildcat.''