ESPN Wisconsin

Well, He Looks Like Martin Luther

Mar 21, 2012 -- 10:03am

by Bill Johnson (bjohnson@gkbsports.com)

 

I have no idea whether Tim Tebow will ever be a franchise NFL quarterback.

 

I'm not qualified enough, or arrogant enough, to say that he definitely won't.

 

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Tim Tebow has thrown 17 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Were these stats attached to anyone else, they would be very encouraging. With Tebow there is no middle ground, or at least there hasn't been. 

 

A small but fervent group of supporters which started in the Southeast has spread to almost every NFL city. Fans are attracted to Tebow's boyish grin, his intensity, and his ability to pull out the last second win.

 

The support for Tebow, which started before he even played a game for the Broncos, has brought severe back lash. The football media, led by former players, question Tebow's long-term viability as a starter because of his long, looping release, a hitch in his delivery that has improved but not enough. Fans never react well to having something shoved down their throats, and Tebowmania has had that feel of soccer and the metric system. Fans root against Tebow just so the image makers are wrong.

 

I also believe that some of the backlash with Tebow has to do with his faith. It's an element that draws some people in, but it also drives some people away. There was massive controversy about a pro-life ad that Tebow did that was to appear in the Super Bowl after his senior year at Florida. The ad didn't play during the Super Bowl, and in hindsight it was relatively harmless, but Tim Tebow had just alienated the pro-choice movement and most of the political left in this country.

 

It's interesting to me, but most of the opinions on either side of Tim Tebow have nothing to do with football.

 

I think that the football opinions about Tebow are very premature.

 

There are legitimate arguments on both sides. It just interests me how fervently people will argue their point, even people that have no direct connection to Tebow.

 

On the negative side, Tebow still has serious mechanical issues. I mentioned the slow release. He also doesn't read defenses that well. He has a tendency to stare down his receivers. He throws the ball after the cut, too late in today's NFL. As a passer, Tim Tebow has some very serious problems.

 

Problems that weren't addressed at Florida. I don't blame Urban Meyer. The college coaches job is to win games, not run a minor league NFL team (although maybe some of you young QB's headed off to Columbus should keep that in mind.)

 

Problems that weren't addressed by John Fox or John Elway. I don't necessarily blame them either. With the cult-like fan support of Tebow in Denver, they had no choice but to play nice while he was there. Now it's pretty clear that they had no interest in keeping Tebow, thus, why bother developing him for someone else? The decision to draft him in the first round was not their mistake. They were going to cut bait as soon as possible.

 

In the end, it's been on Tebow to fix it, and he hasn't.

 

There are a lot of negatives with Tim Tebow.

 

There are positives as well.

 

Yes, I know, that's IMPOSSIBLE for some of you to believe. I mean, come on Bill!!! Don't you listen?!? Merrill Hoge and Colin Cowherd and Todd McShay!!! They say he can't do anything!! They're on TV (or radio)!! They must be right!! (well, maybe not the radio guy.)

 

He is a great athlete. A freak. He runs the ball well, but he can throw it too. 

 

Yes, I said it. He can throw the ball.

 

Here are the numbers at Florida:

 

88 TDs  15 INTs 67.1% completions

 

Yep, it was a gadgety offense, but be honest, how many of you even bothered to look at the numbers? To put up numbers like that in the best conference in college football, your ability as a passer has to be worth something.

 

In a league where season ending injuries to quarterbacks cripple franchises, Tebow is durable. I think that the way he plays and his athleticism will actually give him a better chance of staying on the field.

 

He is somewhat raw, and in this case I think that's good. I think that Tebow needs to go to a place where teams have developed quarterbacks, like the Eagles, the Patriots, and, yes, the Packers. These teams know how to coach up quarterbacks. If there is anything in Tebow, one of these teams will get it out of him.

 

It will be an absolute disaster if Tebow goes to a team with a defensive head coach. Guys like Rex Ryan or John Fox that don't want to be bothered with developing a quarterback. Well those coaches have won a bunch of championships so I guess...oh wait...they haven't won any. They just act like they have.

 

First two seasons:

 

Terry Bradshaw- 19 touchdowns 46 interceptions

Dan Fouts- 14 touchdowns 26 interceptions

John Elway- 25 touchdowns 29 interceptions

Bart Starr- 10 touchdowns 13 interceptions

Phil Simms- 18 touchdowns 23 interception

 

Significant of nothing, but I'll bet the teams these Hall of Famers played for are glad they had some patience.

 

Here's my favorite:

 

Roger Staubach. Played at the Naval Academy in a running offense. Great athlete. In his first two NFL seasons, 3 touchdowns 10 interceptions. Landry didn't think that he could throw, or that he could stay in the pocket long enough to be an effective NFL quarterback. Eventually, with coaching, Roger the Dodger would become Captain Comeback and lead the Cowboys to four Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi Trophies on his way to Canton.

 

If John Fox had been his coach, or if he had been aggressively pro-life at the wrong time, would any of it ever happened?

 

I'd like to think that I am that middle ground on Tebow. 

 

I recognize the flaws. I have seen how hard Tebow works. I'm shocked that he hasn't done more to improve the things that need improving in his throwing motion. Either he hasn't been coached or he hasn't responded to coaching. It's on him to get better.

 

Regarding the flaws and the style of play, why has he taken so much more criticism early in his career than Michael Vick? Vick is a better athlete, but the results are similar. Vick came from a college offense where he ran a lot and threw to a lot of wide open receivers. In the NFL, Vick often looked lost and threw a ton of ugly passes, like Tebow. Vick also had his critics, but Tebow's detractors seem much louder and more vicious. While fans and experts always seemed to believe that Vick had a huge upside, no one really says that about Tebow. Why the difference?

 

Vick's first two seasons- 18 touchdowns 11 interceptions 52.6% completions, eerily similar to a certain Jesus-loving number 15 not named Bryan Bartlett Starr.

 

I still believe the chances of Tebow ending up in Green Bay are very slim.

 

I also don't think it's the worst thing in the world if he does.

 

He'd be a back-up. I think he'd be a decent back-up. Like him or not, he's won some games. I don't know how anyone can honestly say that, in an emergency, they'd rather have Graham Harrell step in for 12 rather than Tebow. Experience means a lot, and like him or not, Tebow has experience as a starting NFL quarterback. Graham Harrell has no NFL game experience.

 

McCarthy and Clements would have options with Tebow as well. I don't see the Packers love for Tight End type athletes ending any time soon. While Tebow is serving his apprenticeship under 12, he can be involved in the offense as another tight end or a wild cat quarterback.

 

He's a good football player. Can he ever be a good passer? That's up to him, and the team that gets him.

 

No mistake though. Tim Tebow is a good football player. That's why the Packers have interest.

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