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.
Posted on: March 21, 2010 8:15 pm
Cleveland president Mike Holmgren, the man who coached and is at least partially credited with developing Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck, among others, is apparently not interested in working with Jimmy Clausen.
Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer quotes Holmgren as saying "I wish I liked him more. You know that you have a type of player that you like? It's not scientific. People like him a lot. He'll go high. But it would be hard for me [to take him]."
This isn't because Holmgren isn't interested in adding a rookie quarterback. Holmgren freely admits that the Browns will use a pick on a quarterback in the draft, but it appears it won't be Clausen, or, as Grossi points out later in the article, one in the second round either.
Said Holmgren, "I'd have to have another second-round pick [to take a quarterback in the second round].
The Browns have to add a young quarterback because Holmgren has hitched his wagon to veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Holmgren signed Delhomme to a free agent contract after he was released by Carolina. The Browns traded for Wallace, who was drafted by Holmgren and played under him in Seattle.
Holmgren's history indicates that he'll draft a quarterback in the mid to later rounds. As I mentioned in a previous blog post , Holmgren, in 23 years of NFL work, has never been apart of a team that has invested anything higher than a third round pick on a rookie quarterback.
Holmgren had previously announced that he liked Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford "a lot," but isn't likely to be willing to part with enough of his ten picks in the 2010 draft to be able to pry away the first pick from the St. Louis Rams. Should the Rams pass on Bradford, Detroit and Tampa, who, of course, took their own first round quarterbacks last year with Matt Stafford and Josh Freeman, respectively, would likely be very interested to hear what the Browns might offer.
Holmgren's honesty is not surprising to those who have worked with him in the past. Holmgren's candor was appreciated by local beat writers and national media, as well. Few head coaches were as willing to explain the what's and how's of the game with the kindness Holmgren did -- which is why his comments on Clausen are likely heart-felt.
It would be a surprise to those who know him if by saying these things Holmgren was attempting to create smoke screen.
"That's just not his style," texted a scout who used to work under Holmgren.
Posted on: March 15, 2010 9:13 am
Edited on: March 15, 2010 1:00 pm
Some will characterize Mike Holmgren's house cleaning with the Cleveland Browns' roster as a necessary purge. The Browns, after all, were one of the league's worst teams last year, needing to go 4-1 down the stretch to finish the year 5-11 -- one more victory than they had in 2008.
I see the moves as a significant risk.
Quarterback Brady Quinn was essentially given away to the Broncos for fullback Peyton Hillis and a pair of late round picks in the 2011 draft.
Sure, the argument could be made that if Quinn was not viewed as a fit in Cleveland's future by Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert, that they might as well let him go. Receiving so little in return for a young quarterback, who has completed 52% of his passes and a has a 10-9 TD to INT ratio, however, appears to be a miscalculation in value.
It is difficult to gauge exactly what Quinn's value was. Certainly Cleveland would have entertained other, better offers if they'd had them.
However, in signing Jake Delhomme only a day earlier, the Browns gave away all of their leverage to negotiate with other teams.
The Browns received better, but arguably still not enough value for pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley in their second trade Sunday.
The Raiders won't be giving up their own 3rd round pick, but the one they picked up last year from the Patriots in exchange for pass rusher Derrick Burgess. This pick is projected to be the 83rd, 84th or 85th pick of the 2010 draft.
Essentially, the Raiders traded away the 32 year-old Burgess for the 26 year-old Wimbley, who is expected to fill a similar role in Oakland as a weakside defensive end and strongside linebacker as Burgess had.
Wimbley, who was scheduled to make a base salary of only 1.065 million was a relatively cheap expense and had either led or finished second in sacks for the Browns in each of his four seasons since being their first round pick in 2006.
Mike Holmgren has established himself as one of the great coaches of all-time. He is, in my opinion at least, a Hall of Famer. However, his questionable decisions while serving as general manager of the Seahawks from 1999-2002 led to his being replaced in this capacity.
When the Seahawks were looking for a new general manager and head coach following the 2009 season there was a public cry for Holmgren to come back to Seattle.
Considering his unproven track record to gauge personnel, however, there was great hesitancy inside the franchise to bring him back.
Sunday's two trades will be seen by some as evidence why.