EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — It has been a while since Tim Tebow only watched this much from the sideline.
The popular backup quarterback didn't play a snap for the New York Jets for the fourth time in five games, a mere spectator despite being active Sunday for the 27-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
New York will either trade or release Tebow after the season, a disappointing one-year stint with the Jets that just seems to get worse for Tebow. He was asked after the game if he could remember the last time he had played so little on the football field.
"Three or 4 years old, probably," Tebow said. "Since I started."
The former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion at the University of Florida spent his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos, who used Tebow in occasional situations until he became the starter last season and led the team to the playoffs.
"My rookie year, I got opportunities doing stuff," Tebow said. "You know, goal-line, third down, fourth down and stuff like that."
Tebow was leapfrogged by Greg McElroy on the team's depth chart when Rex Ryan chose to have the third-stringer make his first NFL start in place of the benched Mark Sanchez. All three quarterbacks were active, but only McElroy played — and Tebow never got into the game in the team's wildcat package. Tebow said "it just happened" that he didn't play in the package usually reserved for him, but ESPN New York reported that he actually asked out of running the wildcat earlier in the week, according to sources.
The Jets used wide receiver Jeremy Kerley in the wildcat as Tebow remained on the sideline. Kerley completed a 42-yard pass to Clyde Gates out of the wildcat, and had a few other snaps out of the scheme.
"Well, it's been disappointing," Tebow said of the season. "Obviously, it didn't go as we thought, as I had hoped, but sometimes in life you have that. Sometimes you have setbacks and you just have to look at them as another opportunity for you to step back up and keep working and figure out what to do."
Tebow was acquired from Denver in a trade last March and expected to be a major contributor to the offense. He has been only a role player — whenever he actually plays. He took three snaps at St. Louis on Nov. 18, a week after breaking two ribs, but has played in just one game since — getting a full offensive series for the first time all season last Monday night in Tennessee.