|After listening to much debate about – and mostly criticism of – Tim Tebow, here is my shrewd analysis of the Denver Broncos second-year quarterback:
Posted: 8/13/2011 1:24:58 PM
Cut the guy a break. Seriously, people.
Upon watching countless talking heads use Tebow as their verbal punching bag, you’d think this guy was the second coming of Ryan Leaf.
He might not be the next John Elway, either, but the bottom line is he hasn’t played enough for any fair conclusion to be reached and, what’s gone unnoticed amid the media’s feeding frenzy, is that Tebow has played well when given the chance.
I couldn’t help shake my head a little in disbelief as two ESPN studio analysts broke down everything Tebow did wrong on a pass he short-hopped to his intended receiver in Denver’s 24-23 exhibition loss Thursday to the Dallas Cowboys. It was his only incompletion, for Pete’s sake, in a performance in which he went 6-for-7 for 91 yards and added two rushes for 15 yards. The guy he is trying to beat out, Kyle Orton, went 2-for-6 for 37 yards.
To say criticism of Tebow is unwarranted is an understatement, and it’s also somewhat of a moot point. It’s clear that he is the target of jealousy-inspired resentment from many who cover the game, particularly former players who are now in the media, and the reasons seem pretty clear-cut.
For one, they resent the adulation that was heaped on Tebow at Florida, where he was an icon before he ever played a down, and a two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy-winning legend by the time he left campus.
There are also many who believe he wasn’t worthy of a first-round pick, and simply was the beneficiary of former coach Josh McDaniels’ infatuation with Tebow. I’d say it’s fair to call the pick a risk, but I would stop short of a “stretch.” The guy had one of the most decorated college careers in the game’s history, so he’s obviously doing something right.
Moreover, there is a backlash against Tebow because of his religion. No matter your own faith, or lack thereof, this strikes me as a religion-in-the-workplace issue, and the two just don’t mix.
The point being, I want to hear Tebow’s views on religion no more or less than I want to hear those from the guy in the cubicle across from me.
Whether it’s Tebow or any other athlete, I always cringe a little when they use the start of an interview as free airtime with which to place an infomercial for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t begrudge them the right to their beliefs, but there are other structures meant for such sentiments on Sundays, and football stadiums aren’t among them.
Even so, I have no doubt Tebow’s faith is a huge part of his strong self-belief system and success. His spirituality is who he is at the core, so even though the references get tiresome, we need to give the guy some slack.
Here’s what else the media needs to do: Start acknowledging that Tebow is the best quarterback on Denver’s roster. If you are a Broncos fan and want to see some progress in coach John Fox’s first year, you should hope – I resisted the word “pray” here – they trade or bench Orton and go with Tebow from the opening kick-off.
So he could use some work on his fundamentals? So what. Other guys with mechanical flaws have been successful. Every time Philip Rivers throws the ball, the pigskin looks like it’s being launched out of a broken slingshot. Nobody questions his skill set.
Moreover, great fundamentals don’t always equate to success. Look at Jay Cutler. Most would agree he is a prototypical pocket quarterback with a golden arm. Would you want him starting for you in the NFC championship game? Orton also looks decent on paper and in the film room, but has never held up well when the pressure is on.
Some people use the word “intangibles” as if it’s a nice thing to say about someone who otherwise has no measurable skill. In Tebow’s case, his natural leadership, determination and poise are just what the Broncos need as they attempt to reverse their recent fortunes.
Not to mention, he’s played well in the small sampling we’ve seen. Last year, Tebow started three games and went 41-for-82 for 654 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs. He also ran for 227 yards and 6 TDs.
Compare those numbers to those of Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons’ first-round pick a few years ago who most observers consider a worthy franchise quarterback. In his first three starts, he went 34-for-64 for 511 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
When Tebow finally responded to one of his critics earlier this week, it struck me as long overdue. Let this guy actually do something wrong before you bash him. And my prediction is, Tebow will have the last laugh.