It’s been a little over two months since Tim Tebow took over the reigns as signal caller for The Denver Broncos. Needless to say that from the moment he took that first snap, Tebow-Mania took over the sports world. There’s daily debate on ESPN’s First Take over his play, kids are getting suspended from schools for mimicking a gesture referred to as “Tebowing,” even SNL jumped on the bandwagon with their hilarious take on Jesus visiting Tebow and his teammates in the locker room after a victory. (If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, Youtube it). I have to admit that like many people, I also got caught up in the hype. Tebow is an inspiring personality and at times he can make you forget that as a starting quarterback in the NFL, there are certain deficiencies that he possesses, most notably, the ability to pass the ball with accuracy on a consistent basis.
There is no doubting that Tebow is a gamer, but being a gamer and a physical specimen doesn’t necessarily mean that he has the skill set to be a starting quarterback. Based on his performance on the field, one could understand why the Broncos are still apprehensive about making a full-time commitment. Granted, since he took over the reigns, the Broncos have had a winning record and have been recently been crowned AFC West Champs, but a debate could be made that the 7-4 record could be attributed more to their top rated running game and the emergence of the defense. In fact, one could argue that the Broncos are winning despite of Tebow and based on the numbers, that argument would be valid.
On the other hand, Tebow is an anomaly. The league has had its share of mobile quarterbacks but at first sight, the one thing that separates him from his predecessors would be his pure size and strength. Combine that with a will that just doesn’t quit and its pretty scary imagining what Tebow can do if he ever learns to pass with any resemblance of accuracy. Actually, if you really think about it, Cam Newton is an even more imposing figure then Tebow, faster with a laser for a right arm and has already shown the ability to make all the throws in the QB repertoire with ease. Imagine if you had a player with Newton’s talent with Tebow’s determination. Not that Newton isn’t a determined player, but you have to admit that Tebow’s “It” factor is in another stratosphere. In my mind, the “It” factor isn’t something that you can see on the field of play. It’s not a statistic. It’s an intangible that not every player possesses. It’s that No Holds Barred, Never Gonna Quit type of bravado that manifest from true leaders. You know what? Tebow has that and its proven to be quite contagious within the Bronco community. You can see how his presence has inspired the Broncos and transformed them from also-ran to over-achievers.
What makes Tebow so effective? The unfamiliarity of the read option offense in the NFL, for one. There’s one thing to be said about the read option…it allows for a plethora of play-action and if executed properly, play-action can be a royal pain in a defenses hind parts. It totally keeps you on your heels and constantly guessing. That couldn’t have been more evident than it was in last weekends Wild Card victory against Pittsburgh. The Steelers went in as the top ranked defense in the league and they had absolutely no idea of how to stop this dude. He only completed 10 passes but each completion went for about 30 yards a pop! Maybe John Elway’s comments resonated in Tebow’s brain because he sure as hell came out and “Pulled the trigger” and it only took one bullet in overtime to end the season for Pittsburgh. I wont suggest that he will have the same success against New England on Saturday, but The Patriots have arguably the worst secondary in football and stranger things have happened.
For the record, I have chosen to reserve judgment on Tim Tebow. As a football observer, I can admit that I still have an old school mentality when it comes to the quarterback position. I love seeing guys drop back in the pocket, going through their progressions and hitting their targets, whether they be open or not. Afterall, the game has changed. The rules have changed and we are seeing quarterbacks putting up numbers like never before in the history of the league. However, the quarterback position has also changed and we are seeing more athletes at the helm. Teams are looking for players that can dominate games with both their feet as well as their arms. Steve Young did it. Donovan McNabb did it. Cam Newton is doing on an entirely different level. Tim Tebow has started 15 games in the NFL and although he has shown that he can be quite erratic and highly inconsistant, he has also shown that he does have the skills to perform at a high level and the innate ability to inspire his teammates in a way that can’t be quite quantified. Let’s give it some time before we rush to judgement and label him a bust. —–Mike. A. Layne