FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tim Tebow is at his finest when he's on the run.
He instantly engages audiences when he rolls out of the pocket and barrels his way past blockers and heads up field. It's impossible to look away for fear of missing something unexpected and indescribable. But for all his fancy footwork, the Jets' backup quarterback firmly contends he's just that: a quarterback.
Many people have voiced opinions that the Jets should convert Tebow to running back -- the latest came from ESPN analyst Merril Hoge. The former NFL running back for the Steelers and Bears said recently the Jets should make a position switch with Tebow because of the team's run-first focus.
"With Tim Tebow, I know they are going to pull out the Wildcat, but right now they need power football," Hoge said on-air. "Move him to running back, establish that . . . He is big and strong and powerful. His heart is a 10. I think he is a guy who is going to get some carries."
Tebow, of course, politely accepted Hoge's assessment with a smile. "Well, I'll take that as a compliment from him. But I'm a quarterback first and foremost. However else I can help the team, I'll help the team."
The latest example of Tebow's running prowess came Sunday night against Carolina, when -- on third-and-16 -- he evaded two would-be sacks and at least three defenders during a 20-yard fourth-quarter scramble. The gain garnered cheers from the MetLife Stadium crowd and an emphatic fist pump from Tebow.
"When you kind of get to a point where you don't see anyone downfield, then you try to make a play, getting a first down with my legs," said the backup quarterback, who threw an interception three plays later.
Though some may see Tebow's final stat line -- 4-for-14, 55 yards -- as disappointing, both coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano praised the quarterback's improved mechanics and throwing ability.
"He does some things, though, that just being able to keep plays alive, is really impressive," Ryan said of Tebow, who is 13-for-36 for 151 yards and three interceptions in the three preseason games. "I know he probably wishes his percentage was higher but at those times, it's a little different, especially when you're just firing up there quite a bit. I've been impressed with Tim."
Sparano said Tebow was "dealt a poor hand" Sunday night with a two-minute drive to end the game and a five-point deficit, adding: "You're not going to throw a lot of completions in that thing."
Tebow went 2-for-7 on the final drive and threw four straight incompletions to end the game.
But Sparano praised the quarterback for going through his read progressions during that last drive and also highlighted Tebow's longest completions -- 12-yarders to Joseph Collins and Jordan White and a 22-yard throw to Dedrick Epps.
"When I watch the film, I see something different than I think most people watch it and see," Sparano said. "And the ball came off in real good rhythm, so that's progress to me. Those are the things we need to be working on. That's why we are where we are right now."