By: Eric Serna
Tim Tebow is obviously the most polarizing sports figure in the world. So why is he struggling to find a job in the NFL? Because of a very strong dislike of Tebow and the fans that sparked his fame. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, & Drew Brees are all elite quarterbacks, famous in most part by the success they have had in the league. Despite that, they are all together less famous then Tebow. This is because of many factors going back to his days playing at Nease High School in Jacksonville. He has constantly garnered more fans with each passing day for his on and off the field contributions. But he has also had a rapid increase of people who want him to fail. I’m not talking about the fans who think he’s a great guy but should just change positions. I’m talking about the people who seriously hate the people who love Tebow, who want him to succeed, and in turn, hate the player himself. It has become neck and neck in the argument between Tebow fans vs Tebow ”haters”. Contrast to people’s opinions, I am a different Tebow fan. I love this kid, for everything he stands for, and for his ability to be one of the most exciting football players I’ve ever seen. But I also understand the other side of things. His obvious lack of accuracy. His need to work on his footwork. And of course, worst of all, the swarm that follows him everywhere: the media. Aside from all of that, I fully believe that Tim Tebow deserves a shot to still play quarterback in this league. I’m going to go through things I feel just can’t be ignored when evaluating him as a free agent, and also discuss some possible landing spots.
First off, I find it hard to believe anyone can just put down or ignore the amazing 2011 season Tim Tebow had as a starting quarterback. Throughout his collegiate career at Florida, he held NCAA records for passing efficiency and completion percentage, but still had questionable throwing accuracy needed for the pro game. And although he had some flashes to end the 2010 season, it was still clear entering the 2011 season that this was a below 50% passer. With time, I really do think he can be an above average passer. But he will never be an elite passing quarterback. That is because he will run when possible. What has made him so exciting to watch is his ability to destroy a defense with the run. And that is exactly what he did the moment he became starter for the Denver Broncos. Now let’s be honest. Go back to the announcement that Tebow would start over Kyle Orton after halftime in Week 5 against San Diego. The Broncos were 1-4, down 16 points against the Chargers, and looked like a team that would be picking in the Top 5 of the next NFL Draft. The defense was pathetic, too predictable. The offense was lethargic with inexperienced receivers and no running game. John Fox and John Elway seemed to be throwing the towel in on the season, and figured to think, why not just see what we have in Tebow? Well, he was one play away from overcoming the deficit and winning the game. Down now to 1-5 on the year and playing against Miami, Tebow played downright awful for 3 and a half quarters with the Dolphins looking almost as bad. Still in the game, Tebow turned on the gears and the Bronco’s became the first NFL team to win a game after being down 15 points in the last 3 minutes. This was a recurring theme for the season. Tim Tebow was an inexperienced quarterback thrown in to play, and looked like a limited second year player with little starting experience for most of the games he played in. But you cannot dispute what he did in the fourth quarter of games against the Jets, the Bears, the Vikings, the Chargers, etc. Yes, he had games he couldn’t come bounce from (ex: Lions, Patriots, Bills). But look at what he was asked to do! He went 7-4 as a NFL starter. He helped this offense change from a weak running team to the strongest running team in the NFL. His two receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas started to show their talents as the wins kept coming. The defense started to form together and play at a higher level then when Orton was under center on the other side of the ball. He brought a 1-5 team to the playoffs on a run that included some of the greatest game winning drives you will ever see. Yes, they went in on a tiebreaker situation. But this is a team everyone left for dead, saying there was NO WAY they could even contend to get in the postseason, and the bottom line is they did contend, and they made it after the change to Tebow. He followed three straight bad losses that backed the Broncos into the playoffs with a great performance against the league’s #1 defense at the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Down some starters nonetheless, the Steelers still were a force to be reckoned with, having one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL in Dick LeBeau. Tebow showed he is a developing quarterback with talent and ability to improve, throwing for 316 yards and 2 TD’s. They won the game with a beautiful pass and catch on the first play in overtime. Tim Tebow was said to be many things, but with every flaw and every mistake he made as a raw second year player, he showed us one thing that is undeniable: Tebow = Clutch.
The season went on to end on a sour note, with the second time in the 2011 season, the New England Patriots dominated the entire Denver Bronco’s team. Still, Tebow showed enough to earn being the starting quarterback for Denver in 2012. But then, we all know what happened. In any scenario, any realistic person would pick Peyton Manning over Tim Tebow. I don’t blame Denver for the move they made. But I did feel, as many others, that Elway and Fox never wanted Tebow on the team. They were stuck with him and his limitations. And despite the success they had with him under quarterback, they obviously could not resist the likes of a Peyton Manning. Personally, I felt they didn’t change THAT much offensively for Tebow. Everyone says they changed so much, when they really just added the option play. If the playbook was going to be changed to mimic what was done at Florida, there would have been more calls in shotgun. Those plays only happened when Tebow took control at the end of games to try and win. Plus it didn’t help that John Fox has had a history of bad play calling, even after Tebow was gone (ex: Denver vs Baltimore). The reason I bring all this up is because Tebow playing his type of football has shown to work. He is not your average QB. He needs to have a playbook (correctly) built around him. RG3 and Cam Newton have play books built around their talents. Mind you, they are superb passers, which Tebow will never be. But they are quarterbacks who play a different type of game, and who have a game plan tailored for them. Tebow needs that same thing. If he can’t get that, he will not being playing in the NFL anytime soon. For that reason, I don’t think he will get another chance. But he should. After a wasted season in New York, Tebowmania has worn off. What teams could take a shot on Tebow? Let’s see…..
- Cleveland Browns – This could be a match made in heaven. The Browns have needed an answer at quarterback for a very, very long time. New head coach Rob Chudzinski just came off reinventing the Carolina Panthers offense for the previously mentioned Cam Newton. Going from Newton to Brandon Weeden is going to be tough. The only other real quarterback is Jason Campbell. But adding Tim Tebow? This may be a head coach that would give Tebow a chance to compete at QB and if he wins the starting job, could utilize his talents the same way he helped Newton become Rookie of the Year in his first season.
San Diego Chargers – Tim Tebow and Mike McCoy back together? Stranger things could happen. Although I mentioned my opinion for the overrated change of offense for Tebow, the changes made obviously were good enough to help even a little bit. What is really great about this situation, is that Tim Tebow will be coming in as a backup to Phillip Rivers. At the very least, he could challenge Charlie Whitehurst for the roster spot, and in the event of injury to Rivers, this is a guy McCoy has used as a fall back before.
Chicago Bears – This is a long shot but obvious because of the ties between Tebow and Marc Trestman. Although he is not a star, Josh McCown is a decent backup QB. Unless the Bears think Jay Cutler is not their franchise QB or they are afraid of him getting injured again, this wouldn’t be a spot for Tebow. But as a project for the year? Trestman has worked with Tebow before, maybe it will be too intriguing to resist.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Won’t happen. But unless Matt Scott or Jordan Rodgers cracks the roster and surprises the world, it will be Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne fighting for the starting job. Don’t hate me for wanting the hometown hero, even if it really isn’t a fit (I go into more of this below).
As you can tell, for Tebow to be an NFL quarterback, he already has limited options. I hope the best for him, but I don’t see him playing in the CFL, and I don’t see him changing positions. Which brings me to something that really irks me. There is no evidence that Tebow would be better at any other position. I don’t understand the want for Tebow to change positions. He has always been a quarterback. Instead of him toning his skills at a position he’s always played, he should learn an entirely new position? Doesn’t make sense to me. He is easily better then half of the backups in the NFL (and arguably some starters). Also, in regards to Tebow to Jacksonville, can people please stop saying we need him to sell seats? Sure, he would sell out season tickets in minutes as a starter here. But we haven’t had a blackout in a while, and as bad as the Jaguars have been recently, they are still selling tickets. My want for him to come home is for the excitement he brought to the league in 2011, to be replicated here for the Jaguars. Unfortunately, just like last year, the Jaguars don’t want him. Only Shad Khan and the fans do. It would be another Broncos situation all over again. He needs to be on a team that will accept him fully for who he is, and they way he plays. The reward/risk is worth it. But with the way the media devours everything Tebow does, the distraction for a backup QB to get a press conference is too much for most, if not all 32 NFL teams. This ending “rant” echoes what a lot of fans in Jacksonville feel, and also fans of Tebow. One of the most talked about sports athletes of all time is on the outside looking in on his own sport. Love him or hate him, how does that even make sense? I guess the answer is simple: it doesn’t.