FLORHAM PARK, NJ—With competition heating up at practices, Jets coaches and players confirmed Thursday that the ground was quickly emerging as quarterback Tim Tebow’s favorite target and had already received 90 percent of the third-year player’s passes during the first three weeks of training camp.
Despite having a variety of options in wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, tight end Dustin Keller, and even converted cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Tebow’s rapport with the ground has been evident as the quarterback has repeatedly thrown in the direction of the grassy surface.
“As we get into camp, more and more often Tim has been throwing to the ground,” center Nick Mangold said. “During plays, he just has this instinct for finding the ground every time. It’s becoming apparent to everyone on the team that the ground is Tim’s go-to target.”
“He just loves throwing it right to the ground,” Mangold added. “It doesn’t matter if the defense comes out in man coverage or an overload blitz. Tebow seems to know exactly where the ground will be and hits the wide-open turf every time.”
At a press conference at the team’s practice facilities, Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Tebow had developed great chemistry with the ground, adding that Tebow threw to the ground not just during scrimmages, but also throughout passing drills and warm-ups. Ryan noted that Tebow often stayed after practice with the QB coach throwing to the ground for hours.
“I’m impressed by how fast a deep bond formed between the ground and Tim,” said Ryan, adding that Tebow and the ground were on the same wavelength and on the path to becoming one the most memorable passing combinations in the franchise’s history. “Overall, Tebow and the ground share very similar characteristics and mindsets.”
Ryan was reportedly impressed with Tebow’s mobility and said the quarterback could consistently scramble away from defensive pressure and throw to the ground while on the run.
Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh said Tebow had elevated his game this season, demonstrating increased confidence and the arm strength to launch the ball 40 to 60 yards, as well the accuracy to hit right between the numbers painted on the grass. Cavanaugh confirmed Tebow had improved mechanics and velocity and was capable of hitting the ground anywhere on the field.
“Tim has exhibited over and over again that he can find the ground on a quick slant, fly route, button hook, Hail Mary, or screen pass,” Cavanaugh said. “Tebow just has that soft touch. He can toss a beautiful fade and precisely deliver the ball right to the ground in the corner of the end zone.”
“Sometimes he’s doing it almost to a fault,” Cavanaugh continued, “immediately flinging it to the ground when it’s not even his first or second option.”
After a meeting with Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, Tebow has reportedly been focused on spreading the ball around more and has developed other favorite targets, including Gatorade coolers, D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s back, the bench, the pylons, a laundry bin filled with towels, and the team’s golf cart.