Don't underestimate spark Tebow provides
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:17 pm
About two months ago, as news broke that 2010 first round pick Tim Tebow had slipped to No. 3 on the Denver Broncos' depth chart, a national writer who I respect very much essentially asked me to explain what went wrong.
I argued that nothing had gone wrong, which was counter to what virtually everyone else was saying -- and probably why my comments weren't part of his article.
Now that Tebow has given an opportunity to start for Denver again, I fully expect critics to again rise up and bash the move. And again, I will preach patience.
I have never considered myself to be a Tim Tebow apologist. If I were running an NFL franchise I would not have selected him in the first round. That said, he does possess some extraordinary skills that can, if complimented correctly, lead to success as a quarterback in the NFL. I believed it then. And I stand behind my 2nd round grade for Tebow now.
Anyone who watched any of the second half of Denver's game Sunday against the Chargers saw the immediate spark Tebow provided. The fans were more excited. Teammates were more excited. Had Brandon Lloyd not dropped what was a very accurate pass from Tebow for the tying two-point conversion in the closing minutes, the Broncos' coaching staff would have no choice but to be excited.
Instead, today feels as though the Broncos' staff are throwing their collective hands up in the air and saying, "Ah, what the hell, let's give this Tebow guy a try."
Tebow serves as a classic example of how the high expectations of a spectacular collegiate career can quickly turn to disappointment when similar success isn't immediately gained in the NFL.
Tebow started three games as a rookie, leading the Broncos to one of their four victories (Houston) last year. He threw for 651 yards in those three contests, including passing for four touchdowns against three interceptions. He also ran in a touchdown in each of the three games. Were his name not Tim Tebow, one might argue that a rookie quarterback scoring seven touchdowns against four turnovers (he fumbled against Houston) and leading his team to 25% of his team's victories despite only starting 5% of the season might have done enough to earn more playing time.
Instead, because of the fact that he'll never be the prototypical spread passer so en vogue in today's NFL, he's already being characterized by some as failure whose only chance at NFL success is at a different position.
In reality, Tebow's size, ability to throw on the run and intangibles continue to make him a fit in an offense geared around the running game -- which is precisely what Denver is attempting to do with John Fox.
Fox, and team president John Elway, clearly would not have picked Tebow had they been with the Broncos in April of 2010. The fact that they are giving him an opportunity, however, is acknowledgment that he did bring a spark to this team on Sunday.
My job as a talent evaluator asks me to grade the measureables. Heights, weights, 40-times, completion percentages, they are all part of the gig. Tebow, perhaps more than any other quarterback I've scouted (though Jake Locker is close) has a toughness and competitive spirit about him that defies a numerical grade.
I've watched too many quarterback with marginal accuracy, arm strength and mobility have success in the NFL when an offense is tailored around their individual skill-set. Under Fox, the Carolina Panthers did precisely this for Jake Delhomme, recognizing that his ability to lead his teammates could result in wins, despite his lack of ideal tools.
Thus far this season, Denver's starter, Kyle Orton, has completed 58.7% of his passes 979 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and two fumbles lost.
Orton's numbers aren't impressive. Even less so is Denver's record (1-4) during that time. I am not claiming that Tebow's touchdowns or completion percentage will be better.
But give Tebow five games. Don't be surprised when the team "miraculously" has a higher winning percentage with him at quarterback -- just like it did last year.