Why Tim Tebow Deserves Another Chance at Being an NFL Quarterback
I’m fed up with all the Tim Tebow hate. The most annoying part about the haters trying to bury Tebow under the mess that was/is the New York Jets is that if you come to his defense, they say you’re an “apologist”. The writers bring out genius lines like Jason Cole’s “blah, blah, blah” to prove how bad Tebow is.
I get it, the guy isn’t your traditional quarterback. He has an ugly throwing motion. I don’t care that it loops and that it takes a little longer than other passers. I don’t need to hear 10 different ways why he’s not the most accurate passer or why he’ll never be Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. I have already accepted all of these things, and I still think Tebow can play.
And no, not as a running back. He could pull that off if he ends up having no other choice, but I don’t believe he should have to.
For one, I think it’s simply irrational how people blow off Tebow’s season in Denver. Some of it was lucky. Some if was absurd. But damn near all of it was magical. Call me crazy and a “Tebow apologist”, but you don’t happen to hang 316 passing yards and an overtime game-winner on the Pittsburgh Steelers by luck.
You don’t do that if you can’t play the game.
And working in Tebow’s favor, or so we thought, was that wild run that got the otherwise hapless Broncos to the post-season last year, to begin with.
But, oh, how quickly the NFL world forgets about a man they talked about endlessly week after week. Tebow became an adjective and a verb. He became this polarizing figure that few completely understood, and even fewer were willing to accept.
It was the cool thing to be anti-Tebow, and as we’ve been witnessing ever since Tebow was traded to the New York Jets, but now on an even grander scale, it still is.
But I’ve got news for the Tebow haters. He’s not as bad as you think he is, and if he ever gets the chance to really run an offense that way he’s built to, he’ll prove it to you.
The simple fact is, that even when Denver catered to his strengths as a runner with the read-option offense, they really never backed him. They didn’t want to give him chances to succeed, because they didn’t believe in him and wanted out of the situation as fast as possible.
Ultimately, Peyton Manning and to a lesser degree the Jets gave them that out. Now, I won’t knock rolling over Tebow for Manning. I would have done that in a heart beat. But I don’t buy for a second that the Broncos ever seriously tried to make it work with Tebow. After all, they traded his best, healthiest wide receiver before he could ever really use him (Brandon Lloyd), and played a game against the Chiefs where they allowed him to attempt just eight passes.
People laughed and mocked, but the reality was, Tebow was just doing what he was told to do. He was operating out of an offense someone else constructed for him because they didn’t think he could hack it as he stood.
Perhaps John Fox and Mike McCoy were right to a certain degree. But in that same breath, Tebow was a young kid who literally had three starts to his name. His entire run in Denver as a starter didn’t even equate to a full season. So, really, for argument’s sake he was a rookie. And even with a bad throwing motion and some pretty rough halves of football, I’d say Tebow did pretty darn good.
I’m not sure why Tebow said yes to going to New York. Then again, despite him saying so, I’m not entirely sure I believe he ever really had a choice in the matter. All I do know about the whole situation with New York is that Tebow never had a chance.
You can go all Skip Bayless on it and say he’s a “baller” or a “gamer” and that he simply isn’t a practice player. I buy that. However, I don’t deny that it’s not really fair for him to stink up the joint in practice and then replace Mark Sanchez.
The difference between giving him the job and throwing your hands up in the air with no answers, however, was painfully apparent. Rex Ryan and the stubborn Jets never made the much-needed switch, though, and it doomed the team in the end.
Only now do you hear all of these stories about how Tebow was awful in practice for the Jets and that he was “never really an option” to start over Sanchez. But before the season, it sounded like the Jets were excited to have him. For ticket sales, sure, but excited to use him in a variety of ways, as well.
We read a lot about packages, various roles (punt protector just jumps off the page, doesn’t it?), and Tebow fans couldn’t wait to see his glorious role in Tony Sparano’s Wildcat offense.
It was all a bad joke before it could even get started.
The truth is, Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded coach. He drafted Sanchez and is tied to him, so he wanted to wait as long as possible, hoping Sanchez would pull it off. That didn’t happen, and when it was evident the Jets weren’t going to the playoffs, turning to Tebow was no longer an option. After all, how bad would Ryan and the rest of the New York front office look if they played Tebow in the final two games and he helped them win both games?
People would be asking why it took so long to get Tebow under center full-time.
But even aside from that, it was clear that Tony Sparano was routinely over-matched. He had no clue how to use Tim Tebow, and despite the media and NFL players making it appear like that was because Tebow has no football value, it had everything to do with the guy who was calling the shots on offense.
Sparano had terrible offenses in Miami and ran a Wildcat package that worked for a short time for one year, and he brought the same vanilla concepts to the Jets. When Tebow was in, he almost always handed the ball off or ran straight up the middle. He simply was not properly utilized.
But the most painful part of the Wildcat packages was that is was rarely used near the goal-line, where Tebow is most effective. The Jets acted as if Tebow would throw an interception every time he had the ball in his hands – as if this guy wasn’t fresh off of a playoff win and had absolutely nothing to offer.
In fact, the one time (that I personally saw) Tebow sniffed the end-zone after a nice run, Mark Sanchez immediately replaced him. The Jets ended up kicking a field goal.
To me, that meant that the offense was all about protecting Mark Sanchez’s ego, with a heavy sprinkling of Tony Sparano mis-managing series and his talent.
Ultimately, Tebow didn’t even play enough to be bad. Mocking him for his stay in New York shows immaturity and ignorance. If Tebow was used correctly, when “mad man” Josh McDaniels used him as a goal-line specialty threat early in his rookie season, he could have been extremely effective. Instead, he was made into a gimmick of a gimmick. He was the goat. He was the joke.
In reality, the Jets were the joke, and it could very well lead to Tebow possibly not getting another chance at proving he has what it takes to play in the NFL. People might not like how it looks, and he probably won’t ever turn into a traditional pocket passer, but I don’t think he really has to.
Michael Vick isn’t a good pocket passer, and he’ll get another chance, despite failing two years in a role with the Eagles. Alex Smith came from a spread offense in college and took years to turn into the solid game manager he is now, but he got there. Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton are far better talents and passers than Tebow, but they both have run similar style offenses like he did with the Broncos, and you didn’t hear anyone complaining about their style of play or if they’d get hurt (hold that though on RG3, right?).
In the end, we still don’t know what to make of Tebow. We haven’t really seen him even try to be a traditional quarterback since he was a Bronco. His brief action in the preseason with the Jets is an unfair assessment, simply because that offense wasn’t built for or around him – it was made for Sanchez.
I agree that Tebow isn’t where he needs to be. He needs to quicken his release, learn how to read defenses better, work on his pocket presence, and get more accurate. But he isn’t lacking arm strength. I’ve seen him make some fantastic throws. He’s as tough as they come, has great size, mobility, and those intangibles that you typically can’t find in even the most talented players.
And the kid is just 25 years old. He’s not Greg McElroy or the next coming of T.J. Rubley. He’s not as inept as people make him out to be, and he’s certainly not without talent.
Yeah, he could be done as a quarterback in the NFL. He might never start another game. His current skill-set and athleticism would probably make him a decent hybrid halfback, or even a tight end. Maybe that’s what happens, and if so, I wish him luck with that.
But that’s not what should happen.
Tim Tebow started something in 2011 that everyone for the most part agreed was magical, but few allowed to be something that could continue on. And call me an apologist, crazy, or mis-informed, but I just don’t understand how we can’t give the man a true rebuttal.