Losing in the NFL usually foments rage. When the Lions went 0-16 in 2008, there was a winter's worth of fuel from the fury toward then-GM Matt Millen. Some fans in Detroit were actually cheering for the team to lose all its games in order to usher out the Millen regime. Last year, when the Chiefs won two games, there was a sense that this kind of failure cannot stand.
Some guy stood on a street corner last Thursday outside of Jacksonville and held up a sign: "Jags-Tebow, Why Not?"
Soon there was a website to go along with it. Then Monday there was a rally scheduled in the parking lot of the Jaguars' stadium, at 3:16 p.m., as a nod to the former Bronco/Jet/Pat/Gator quarterback/special teamer/backup/Heisman hero and his Christian beliefs. The event was scheduled to run three hours and sixteen minutes.
[Photos: Best of NFL Week 2]
About 15 people showed up.
Tebow hype, it's safe to say, has run its course. The reality of the quarterback and his limitations has settled in.
But at the same time … well, why not?
It can't get any worse for the Jags' offense. It mustered 248 total yards against the lowly Oakland Raiders, and have one touchdown in two games. The starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, is hurt. The star running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. The star wideout, Justin Blackmon, is suspended. Even the punter, Bryan Anger, is causing some fan anger. It's bleak, man.
So why not give Tebow a try in Jacksonville? Why not give fans a reason to watch while the team rebuilds?
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"We're consumers, the Jags are the product," said James Stewart, a former Marine who is heading up this small-scale Tebow push. "We'd like to see a particular feature, which is Tebow."
The Jaguars, now 0-2, are not the first terrible NFL team. If they lose all their games this season, they will not be the first winless outfit. What they are is uninteresting. And that's rare in the NFL. Any team can cling to maybe: Maybe this player will turn into an instant star. Maybe this guy will have a breakout fantasy season. Maybe there will be an upset over a hated rival.
The Jags don't seem to have "maybe." They are young and thin in a difficult division. They can't score. That's basically it. There isn't much to cheer for. Not this year, anyway.
The season-opening game, against the Kansas City Chiefs, brought yawning sections at EverBank Field. The second game, in Oakland, brought a situation where a local TV station apologized to viewers for having to show the Jacksonville game instead of the Manning Bowl.
The Jags lost both games badly. And there went two of the more winnable games on the schedule. The next drama is likely the draft.
The Jags? Well, fans seem to like the owner, Shad Khan. He's already unveiled plans to renovate the stadium. New coach Gus Bradley deserves time to figure things out. So a city waits. These aren't the Miami Marlins; nobody was sold a bill of goods. Nobody thought, "This is the year!" This is not the year.
But it can still be an interesting year, a fun year.
That's why, at least to Stewart, Tim Tebow makes sense. Bring him in, let him compete, see what happens. Nobody's saying he's Dan Marino. He's just a possible replacement for Gabbert.
"All I'm saying is at this point in time, we'd like to see what he can do," Stewart said on his way to the stadium for Monday's get-together. "I can't predict whether it's short- or long-term. I don't think Gabbert's long-term. I don't think [Chad] Henne's long-term. Tebow certainly would be more entertaining for everybody."
You can hear the apoplectic fits all over Duval County: Well then why not put an actual jaguar at quarterback?! Have the big cat run around and see how J.J. Watt reacts to that! No. 99 won't be so tough when a wild cat is running the wildcat!
[Related: Desperate Jags fans plan Tim Tebow rally]
Fair enough. But you can't blame fans for wanting something watchable. They're the customers. Positive change is coming, so give them something to watch in the meantime. Khan clearly wants to enhance the game day experience at EverBank. This is one way to do it. It's unlikely the Jags will score fewer points than they do now. It's unlikely fewer fans will show up. And it's not like anyone's getting unfairly benched. There's no hotshot quarterback waiting in the wings, other than Teddy Bridgewater.
And let's face it: People will care. Some will come and cheer, others will come and laugh. But people will show. "Whether you like him or hate him," says Stewart, "they would all watch. That would be good for the city."
There's also the football argument. Tebow was good in Denver and a misfit in New York and New England. He is not a good passer, but he can run behind a struggling offensive line. He can lead. He's far more likely to succeed in his hometown, surrounded by a young team. And if he doesn't succeed? Back to Henne or Matt Scott.
Does it make sense? Well, it makes about as much sense as starting Terrelle Pryor, who beat the Jags on Sunday.
Stewart isn't trying to raise hell. "I'm just a guy," he says. He was born in Jacksonville, cheered for the Seminoles, and started backing the Jags 11 years ago. There are a lot of people like him – people who simply like Tebow, like the Jags, and want to see something happen on Sundays. Asked if he's ready for those who will say "real" fans don't want Tebow, he says he doesn't understand why he's less "real" than others.
[Photos: NFL cheerleaders of Week 2]
The "real" fans will still love the Jags no matter what. The Tebow fans will show up in the short-term, and maybe for the long-term.
The Jags will get better. But for now, sadly, it can't get any worse.