FLORHAM PARK, N.J.-- The New York Jets had a vision of Tim Tebow being a versatile weapon for them in 2012, and they surely tried to make it happen by lining him up at quarterback, H-back, personal punt protector and blocking back on shotgun passes.
There was one more spot they wanted to place Tebow but never got around to doing so: Tailback.
The team had visions of lining up Tebow at running back in traditional sets when they acquired him via trade from the Denver Broncos last March, according to a person with knowledge of the team's plans at the time of the trade. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the Jets didn't divulge that plan, said it involved more than the shotgun look and was intended to "give (Tebow) the ball and play at times just like (Shonn) Green and (Bilal) Powell" were used.
Jets coach Rex Ryan mentioned using Tebow as a running back only once, and that was in late October when Powell was injured and backup running back Joe McKnight was dealing with a high-ankle sprain. Ryan said Tebow could get some looks in the backfield, though McKnight wound up playing that Sunday. Tebow never lined up at running back.
The Jets' original vision to use Tebow as a running back was more than just in an emergency situation. They believed Tebow the running back could be an integral part of their game plans.
The first question this revelation raises is why did it never occur? Ryan was the one talking up Tebow as the ultimate weapon who could play a variety of roles. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano didn't make it happen. Sparano was fired on Monday.
The other question, then, is whether this means Tebow is definitely on his way out, as many have anticipated. The Jets will hire a new offensive coordinator and are in the process of hiring a new general manager. It's unclear at this point what those two men will think about the possibility of trying to hold on to Tebow and expanding his role to, among other things, running back.
Likely gone? Sure. Definitely? Who knows?
Ryan and owner Woody Johnson would not speculate on Tebow's future during their press conference on Tuesday.
Of course, Tebow has stated he wants to be a quarterback and, according to a report from ESPNNewYork.com late last month, asked out of Wildcat packages because he'd been passed over at quarterback. Tebow later denied the report, though he said he told Ryan he wants to be a "regular quarterback."
Perhaps his best shot to remain in the NFL will be the Jets' vision of him as a regular running back.