The Courtroom: Tebowmania

With the Denver Broncos now ousted from the playoffs, it’s time to examine one of the greatest phenomenons in professional sports–“Tebowmania.”  No other quarterback in recent memory was able to garner so much attention–both positive and negative–as Tebow did this season.  What was the cause of such craziness?  Well…many things.  A combination of a questionable skills, winning, religion, and Skip Bayless all played a big role in creating “Tebowmania.”

As a big fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide, I knew far too well the man that is Tim Tebow.  I knew of his amazing comebacks and inspirational speeches. Bama was unfortunately on the wrong end of one of his comebacks (2008 SEC Championship Game).  However, there were serious doubts by many analysts that he could become a successful NFL quarterback.  It’s time to put things in perspective.

You know it’s really sad that you are labeled a “hater” by simply stating facts.  I’ve been called a Boise State “hater” before, but I’m not bothered by it.  They have definitely proved they can play with the big boys…when given enough time to prepare.  With Cam Newton, I was very skeptical that he could make it in the pros.  However, his play this year has eased my concerns a little bit.  I want to see if he can do it next year, and the year after.  You see, with me, I have to be shown that a particular team or athlete can perform at a high level over multiple years for me to say, “They’re the real deal.”  What can I say?  I’m a pessimist and a skeptic.  I was very wary of Jose Bautista when he smacked 54 home runs a year ago.  Those worries were largely put at rest when he came out this season and had another monster year (a year which he deserved the MVP).  As much as I love Curtis Granderson (and as much as I believe this year he really turned the corner), he better go out there and do it again.

Michael Jordan told Ray Allen after the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals that they were “lucky” and to talk to him again when he won “at least 2.”  This was by no means cocky; it’s the truth.  Winning a championship is hard in any sport; it does require some luck.  However, winning multiple championships is the true measurement of greatness.  Obviously, winning multiple requires luck as well, but that factor diminishes the moar and moar you win.  The Yankees Dynasty of the 90’s and the Patriots of the early 2000’s are proof of this.  They will always be remembered as the best of the best.  That’s what I want to see out of any player.  He doesn’t have to win a championship, but I want to see high levels of play over multiple years.  One good year does not mean sustained success (remember Rex Grossman?).  Tebow is the ultimate example of a one year wonder.  Not saying he’s going to be, but that he has all the makings of one.  People are so quick to jump on his bandwagon.  I’ve even heard some lunatics say that he’s “broken the mold for QB’s in the NFL.”  What the hell?  People are crazy.

First things first: he had a miracle year. You can spin it anyway you want, but the Broncos were extremely lucky.  Who did they beat? As a few RATIONAL Broncos fans have pointed out, Denver repeatedly caught teams while they were down; they beat a winless Miami team, Oakland without a starting QB, Minnesota without Adrian Peterson, and Chicago without Cutler and Forte.  Even without Cutler and Forte, Chicago would have won if not for an INEXPLICABLE act by Marion Barber.  They won against Kansas City with Tebow completing only TWO passes. They beat a San Diego team with an impostor Philip Rivers; Denver was also lucky San Diego missed a field goal to win the game. I’ll give them the Jets win just because of my strong dislike of fat Rex Ryan ;).  But looking at things objectively, Denver without a lot of luck goes 6-10 at best.  Even in their playoff victory over the Steelers, they were lucky that a growing-senile Dick LeBeau stacked 10 guys in the box everytime.  I’m not going to use injuries as an excuse because they are part of the game.  Who knows what would have happened if Ryan Clark and others were healthy (well Clark was held out for precautionary reasons).  The point is, the Steelers employed the most ridiculous defensive scheme I’ve seen in a long time, and it cost them.

Second, this whole concept of Tebow “breaking the mold” is ridiculous.  Let’s set things straight here: the option will NOT work in the NFL.  If the awful Patriots D can contain the option, any team can.  Heck all the teams they played defended the option pretty well (especially Chicago).  Especially when your QB can’t throw with accuracy.  All you need to do is seal the edges and have the LB’s play QB spy.  And here’s another piece of evidence the option won’t work: some of the most dynamic option attacks in college are repeatedly SHUT-DOWN by the best college defenses.  Alabama chewed up LSU’s pathetic option attack.  LSU in turn destroyed the spread option attack of Oregon.  Oregon was even contained by a terrible Auburn D last year and Ohio State the year before.  Georgia Tech’s vaunted flexbone option was stopped by LSU in 2008 and by Iowa a year later in the Orange Bowl.  A disciplined defense can stop the option, something that the Steelers were not in their loss.  Another negative of the option attack is that it’s slow, and when you’re behind, you’re toast, as evident by the Patriots game this past weekend.  Mobile quarterbacks are a great asset; however, they aren’t changing the way the game is played.  You cannot structure an offense which involves running the quarterback a lot; you can design some plays involving some quarterbacks runs to keep the defense on its toes, but that’s about it.

He proved me go do it again

As mentioned earlier, I was very skeptical of Cam Newton because of perceived inability to throw the ball.  Well he proved (at least for now) that he can.  No matter what people say, you must know how to PASS to consistently win.  The running game is great, but it’s not always going to work, especially when down in late game situations.  Spread attacks, which were a few years ago deemed unusable in the NFL, are now common place among teams like the Patriots and Saints because of the recent emphasis on precision passing.  So I would not be against a spread option attack like Oregon runs (although any great D can shut down any kind of offensive attack).  But Tebow lacks accuracy; I’ve never seen a moar terrible passer in my life.  He makes JaMarcus Russell look like a Pro-Bowl passer.

Continuing on from this absurd notion that the QB mold has been broken, a person I follow on Twitter is very adamant that the future lies solely in running quarterbacks.  He claims that there are only a few good pocket passer quarterbacks in this league.  Well, duh.  It’s been like that for, oh I don’t know? The entire existence of football? Of course there are only a handful of great quarterbacks.  This notion that since there are “only a few good quarterbacks and that’s why the future is in dual threat ones” is extremely…dumb for lack of a better word.  Yes the college game features moar of these types of quarterbacks.  But that doesn’t mean there are suddenly going to be 32 great NFL quarterbacks if everyone goes with dual threat ones.  He argues that the Peytons and Bradys of the world are rare. This is true. Duh. Finding a franchise quarterback is extremely difficult.  You aren’t just going to find one by picking up a dual threat quarterback in college.  I’m going to go with what Herm Edwards said about Robert Griffin III: pocket passers aren’t dead, but mobile quarterbacks are now becoming acceptable as well.  I said this earlier! Mobile quarterbacks are assets! They can extend plays and keep defenses honest (look at Aaron Rodgers this past weekend).  However, it is situational and not meant to build offensive schemes around. You must know how to PASS! Look at the 49ers! They’re built around the run but when the going got tough, they had to rely on Alex Smith and his passing ability to get the job done. Simple as that.

Third, the idea that the only thing that matters for quarterbacks is winning is stupid.  Wins are the ultimate prize for a TEAM.  I hate the fact that quarterbacks are given so much credit when they win and so much blame when they lose.  It’s a team game.  Of course the quarterback plays a big role in determining the outcome of a game, but there are other factors too.  All I heard about Denver’s 6 game win streak was how TEBOW won the games.  Uhm what? He looked horrendous in those games.  He can thank inept opposing offenses and a good (not great) Denver D for keeping it close.  He can also thank soft prevent coverages for his miracle comebacks.  Anyone can complete passes with the simple reads he was given in many of his games.  His completion percentage leaves much to be desired.  I’ve heard arguments that the “playcalling is bad” and “all they do is go for long throws” and “his receivers are terrible and drop passes.”  Well he doesn’t have the skills to read defenses and make accurate throws which in turn makes his receivers “drop” balls.

Truth be told, Tebow hasn’t been the victim of as many dropped passes as people would have you believe.  It’s because his passes are so terrible that his receivers can’t make the catch.  I can (almost) guarantee that if you put Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady with Tebow’s receivers, they would make them serviceable.  Yes a receiver’s ability is not dependent on the quarterback, but it sure helps to have someone that can actually get you a well thrown pass instead of lame duck half spirals in the dirt.  Back to the point at hand.  What annoyed me as well was that when the Broncos lost, it wasn’t Tebow’s fault.  You can’t have it both ways.  It’s a team effort, and while he “won” some games (the Jets game where he ran for the game winner was legit), he was a big reason for some of their losses.  It’s ironic that when Tebow took over, they were 1-4 yet they finished the season 1-4 as well. Hmmm.

Clearly this man deserves to be mentioned with the greats...

Oh, another thing.  Tebow fans are now trying to legitimize him since he “won” a playoff game against “mighty” Pittsburgh.  I already stated that the Steelers injuries are not a good excuse; however, I called that the game would be close because of those injuries.  This wasn’t the same Steelers team that held the #1 overall defense.  The way they played Tebow was mind boggling.  Also, those 316 yards passing is a big mirage.  Nearly half of those yards were accumulated thanks to his receivers ability to extend the play (OT TD is proof of that).  To show that I’m not being a hypocrite, I gladly admitted that Eli had a terrible game against the Jets.  If it wasn’t for Victor Cruz’s amazing 99 TD run, Eli’s stat line would have been pathetic.  If wins and playoff victories equals a good quarterback, then Rex Grossman, Trent Dilfer, and many others should be awesome.  Please.

Fourth, I wanted to address his religion.  It’s no mystery that Tebow is a devout Christian.  Good for him.  I don’t have a problem with him being so open with his faith because it’s who he is.  If he remained quiet about his faith, he would not be true to himself.  I don’t want that.  Be who you are.  I’m no hater; I mentioned that it’s sad that people are labeled haters for stating objective facts.  I love Tebow as a person.  He’s one of the few athletes I would consider looking to as a role model. However, I’m afraid many people are unfairly giving him a pass because he is such an upstanding guy.  The opposite is true as well: I think some people hate him because of his faith, which is wrong.  But bottom line, it’s completely fine to be a great person and a bad quarterback.  People need to differentiate the two.

Look I’m actually looking forward to seeing Tebow next year.  Despite all the annoying media coverage of Tebow, it’s ultimately the people that continue to talk about him.  I want to see what Tebow can do with an entire offseason of work.  He needs to improve as a passer, I think that much is clear for everyone.  He must learn to play in a pro style system.  I don’t mind if they throw in some elements of an option attack, just don’t make it the focus.  Remember, mobile quarterbacks are an asset.  However, I’m not going to lie, I have my doubts he will improve.  I’m not hating, just being my usual skeptic self.  All I’ve done in this article is point out that right NOW, Tebow is nothing moar than a bad quarterback who caught some lucky breaks.  I never once said he’s a failure or a bust; it’s too early to determine that.  I’m waiting to see what happens next year.  I just wanted to point out to those infatuated with Tebow to do the same, and to withhold their unrequited (and undeserved) praise for Tebow for now.  People get too caught up in the moment, and things must be put in perspective, by yours truly.  If anything, that’s the thing that annoyed me THE most: Tebow’s crazy worshipers.  His crazy detractors can go hide in a cave too; they’re just as bad.  Until next time people…

EDIT: Missed a few points. I believe some of the “hate” for Tebow stems from the fact that he is being given so many chances to fail.  Any other quarterback who completed only 2 passes would be benched immediately.  This pertains to the black quarterback.  I hate bringing race into the equation, but this is one of the few times I think it does actually apply.  Black dual threat quarterbacks are hardly ever given a chance.  The experts say things like, “their skills won’t translate to the NFL” and “they’re not smart enough to play quarterback.”  If terrible Tebow can be given so many chances, then these black quarterbacks should be given chances as well.  I’m not saying they’re all going to succeed, but for floundering franchises, why not give it a shot?  The chances of finding a Cam Newton are just as rare as finding a Tom Brady.  As I said, franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by.  Doesn’t hurt to at least roll the dice.  Also, the argument that “the Peytons and Bradys of the world are rare” can be equally applied to Tebow…in the sense of his leadership and intangibles.  Not every dual threat–scratch that–Tebow is the ONLY one that displays such heart and desire.  He’s a rarity in that regard.

Hmmm…oh yes, just because he was extremely successful in college, doesn’t mean squat in the NFL.  I see Tebow supporters use this to validate Tebow, and it needs to stop.  Ryan Leaf anyone?

And based on the current scheduling format, the Broncos are in for it next year.  They will play the AFC North (Ravens, Steelers, Cincinnati, and Cleveland), the Patriots, the Texans, and the NFC South (Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Bucs).  This is a murderous schedule so far.  Good luck.

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One Comment:

  1. Those are definitely a lot of good points, but let's face it–Tim Tebow should never be compared to Ryan Leaf. Ryan Leaf is way more talented than Tebow ever will be–oh wait, sorry, he was a head case and happened to set the Chargers back a few years–

    Anyways, you're spot on with what you said. The only thing I won't give you is the playcalling. Against the Steelers they ran on first down…a lot. 23 straight times to be exact. Uh, predictable? Sure, Tebow can't throw the ball consistently at this point, but it's never a good thing to do the exact same thing each and every time. That's one reason why Denver had so many negative yards on Saturday. Gotta mix it up.

    I'm also interested to see what an offseason will do for him. I think (especially since the guy who drafted him got fired) the lockout hurt him, especially since we know he had issues throwing out in college.

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