Religion & Philosophy

I can’t believe I’m saying this: give Tebow a chance

Tim Tebow is getting screwed, and the kid doesn’t deserve it.

Now let me say hastily I am not a Tebow fan, and it’s not because he used football to sell his religion.

Kurt Warner did that. Jon Kitna. Danny Kanell. June Jones. Reggie White. There’s an almost endless supply of great football players (and coaches, e.g., Tony Dungee, Bobby Bowden) who have used their football fame to push religion down people’s throats. And I think that is eminently fair. There’s no one holding a gun to my head making me listen to their interviews and press conferences. It’s not like I don’t know what I’m getting with those guys. I know what Tebow’s going to say if you hand him a mike. It’s my problem if I listen to it. My TV clicker works just fine.

No, I was anti-Tebow because he used his religion to sell football.

Specifically, he used his religion to finagle himself a position as a starting NFL quarterback, one of the most elite jobs on this planet.

He didn’t deserve the abbreviated shot he got in Denver. He got it by using his rabid popularity with a certain set of not terribly knowledgeable football fans and his bond with the secretive Christian sub-culture that runs many NFL organizations.

It was wrong of him to do that. Remember, he took someone else’s money. Someone far more talented slid down the draft board and got paid less because Tebow’s buddy Josh McDaniels moved him up. He took someone’s job. There are only so many spots on an NFL roster. Someone didn’t make the teams in Denver and New York because he did. Somewhere, right now, someone is stacking groceries because of Tebow. And worst of all, he pretty much ruined, or allowed his supporters to ruin, the careers of two decent journeymen quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Kyle Orton. One of those probably deserved it, but the other surely didn’t.

But now Tebow is getting wronged, and the wrong being done him is just as great as the wrong he did. It’s worse. Tebow is a not terribly sharp twenty-something. Yeah, he made a mistake, but he’s a kid. He did what any cocky kid would do. He got a job he didn’t deserve, looked in the mirror, and convinced himself he did. Every one of us has convinced ourselves we deserved something that we really didn’t.

He didn’t deserve his half-shot, but once he got it he put his heart and soul into it. He worked hard. He did everything anyone asked of him, right down to playing on special teams.

The people screwing him over are not foolish and cocky young men. They are foolish and callous old men. When those cynical old men traded for Tebow, listed him as their number two quarterback, and then refused to play him, jumping over him to the third string quarterback, they killed whatever career this kid might have had. They didn’t even let him play a half in the meaningless last game of the year, when he could have auditioned for another job. They left him there, on the sidelines, trying to smile and be a good guy while he got screwed in front of a national TV audience. Now everyone in the league knows that the Jets pretty much believe that anybody—third string QB, shell-shocked starter, waterboy, some guy out of the stands, an ancient Bret Favre–anybody has a better chance of being an NFL quarterback than Tim Tebow, and no other team will touch him.

Now, I think this may be true. I don’t think Tebow would be a good quarterback. I think you need to be able to throw quickly and accurately to be a quarterback, and I doubt his ability to do that. But I wanted to see it play out on the field. I wanted to see him get annihilated by a three hundred pound lineman with no compassion and quick feet, not by a three hundred pound coach with no courage and a foot fetish.

Nor is anyone else jumping up to make this right. Maybe the coach that originally selected him, McDaniels, will step up, but it’s very doubtful his boss, the notoriously unsentimental Bill Belichick will allow this gesture of kindness. (Remember, this is a guy who once cut a player the night before the Superbowl.) Maybe he will get a shot in the CFL or some other league and find his way back like Warren Moon or Warner. But probably not. He’s probably headed to be a grad assistant at Ohio State or coach at some Christian high school.

OK, Tebow has a boatload of money. He has the family business, evangelism, to go back to. He’s not that bad off in normal human terms. Yes, he’s got some sexual issues that need to be worked out, but he’s better off than 99% of the young men his age. Still, he didn’t get what he deserved in NY. He didn’t get a chance.

24 replies »

  1. If he used the system to get his “half shot,” as you term it, I’m puzzled as to why he should get another shot just because the system turned on him. He doesn’t seem to be an NFL talent. Or at least not an NFL QB talent.

    Maybe Timmy needs to a) accept his limitations and not expect his faith in HIM to give him special preference if he REALLY wants to be an NFL player of some sort; or b) go get that grad assistant job and work his way into coaching – an equally (if less immediately financially rewarding) useful way to have a “good influence” on others….

  2. It’s too bad Tebow didn’t know how to throw quickly or accurately in college. He really could have been something. Of course, as the author above will attest, Tim took someone else’s scholarship despite this fact.

    There is apparently a league-wide bias against Mr. Tebow. He is a phenomenon. He does good deeds and inspires people. He also wins football games – even a playoff game everyone said he would lose. He rightly credits God for his abilities. All of this incenses some people and they want to make sure this “distraction” to the supremely important game of football doesn’t continue.

    No, he isn’t that bad as a quarterback. In fact,Tebow has uncommon running ability that could confound defenses if anyone ever put an offense in place to take advantage of his unique skills. No one has the cajones to do that, although fortune favors the bold.

    As you face the giants of your industry and the media lining up against you, God bless you, Tim Tebow.

    • I’m going to go ahead and accuse you of knowing very little about spread offenses based on this single comment. The spread was initially developed to give less talented teams the ability to compete with more talented teams by creating space. It has since been adopted by the very talented, but generally not fully. Chip Kelly only uses his mobile QBs as constraint. They must throw first and it’s mostly a power run game built out of spread concepts, which creates space for the power run game.

      No NFL coach is going to fully adopt a read-option spread just because of Tebow. There’s a lot of debate over whether the true running spread can even work in the NFL because of much better defensive speed and ability to devote much more time to game planning. Tebow’s a big boy and can take a hit better than most running QBs, but his NFL lifespan would be short doing what he did at UF. Coaches are installing running spread elements to take advantage of their very athletic QBs, but they’re doing so as constraint plays. Installing a running spread requires wholly different skill sets across the offense, especially on the offensive line and receivers who are willing to bust their asses blocking. It is not as simple as installing Meyer’s UF playbook. For one, you’d need at least one more running QB to back Tebow up so you don’t have to change your offense if he gets hurt.

      The fact remains that Tebow can’t throw, and it’s clear that no one (until the NFL) has even bothered to teach him QB mechanics. Maybe he should have asked Jesus to help with that, or maybe Jesus failed him, i don’t know. But against NFL defenses stacking the box against the run and CBs good enough to maintain man coverage, Tebow’s faults will be all too apparent week in and week out.

      Also note that the NFL farm system known as the University of Alabama does not bother “confounding” defenses with spread concepts. It’s also been known to completely shut down spread offenses when Saban has more than a week to prepare. There are ways to defend the spread (zone defenses mostly, but high talent man coverage can do it too). Those ways are likely to be far more successful and reliable in the NFL than in the NCAA based on more talent and no limitation on practice time. Don’t get me wrong, i’d like to see the spread tried in the No Fun League, and it is used somewhat (NE runs a passing spread). The fact remains that it succeeding at that level of play will require a QB who can do it all and not get hurt. That hasn’t shown up yet.

  3. Tebow took a team to the Playoff’s last year and did a better job then Patton Manning with the same team. Edge-Tebow…..

    With that said, I believe Tebow has received an opportunity of the greatest proportions already in life and will continue to do so. If not in football but in some other field of endeavor.

  4. I can’t stop laughing. First off, I agree with Jim – if you don’t deserve a shot in the first place, how do you deserve a second shot? He’s been playing with house money the whole time.

    Still, I’m with you. Give him another chance. And then another, and then another. As long as he never gets picked up by one of my teams, I hope he stays in the league forever. Let’s start by sending him to Oakland…..

  5. So, Tebow ” used religion” to “finagle” himself a starting QB job? This is so laughable, I don’t even know where to begin….Yes, the ONLY team willing to draft him in the first round were the Broncos, and the Jaguars PASSED him up despite his OVERWHELMING POPULARITY down in Jacksonville. Say what you will, but Tebow managed to lead Denver to the playoffs, their first time since 2005…Whether you give him some credit or not, he had a winning record as a starting QB, and there are plenty of statistically better QB who didn’t get past the regular season.

    And the author of the above piece apparently does not mention the fact we are referring to a two-time NCAA championship winner, who was also a Heisman recepient, and was a finalist several times….Won the O’brien award once, and the Maxwell award twice, but also received votes for both in other years, nonetheless….Did relatively well in the combine…I am constantly amazed at how Tebow detractors can just conveniently ignore the facts…..

  6. Success in college does not necessarily translate into success in the NFL as numerous examples have proven, so those “facts” of Wildstar’s are – oh, yeah, irrelevant. As for his “success” in Denver, I’m now seeing claims that he’s a better QB than Peyton Manning. I am pretty sure I can refute that with relevant NFL performance facts. So let’s not get all capital letters about this without reason.

    If Tebow was such an asset, why did Denver unload him on the Jets and sign Peyton Manning? Facts. Why did the Jets dump him? They saw him in practice regularly. If they’d have seen promise, he’d have gotten to play some at garbage time. I suspect NFL performance facts again.

    NFL teams are nothing if not businesses. – and they keep players they think can help them be successful – short or long term. Again, if Tebow is willing to be realistic about his NFL possibilities, he can likely have a career there. But his – and his fans’ – insistence that his college success as a QB = NFL QB success is unrealistic.

    I agree with Otherwise that Tebow has used religion as a pimp for his football and football as a pimp for his religion. I dislike him for that. But his assumption that he’s owed something other than a shot, which he’s had, at playing in the NFL is self-delusion. And his fans’ insistence that he’s owed more than he’s already had is mass delusion….

  7. The problem with Tebow is that he’s only fit to be a read-option, running spread QB. His success at Florida was premised on his abilities fitting perfectly into a system that Meyer makes his living running. In fact, he’s better than most QBs in that system because of his size. The guy’s built like a HB rather than the more common small, fast spread-and-shred QBs. His deficiencies throwing the ball were masked by the system he was in, which uses the pass as a constraint play; tends to be short route based; and because of the running game usually leaves receivers wide open on play action.

    The read option is reaching the NFL. They run it with Newton, Griffin, and Wilson. It will become more prevalent as the best NCAA QBs coming to the NFL continue to be dual-threat guys. (Manziel, Braxton Miller, likely Gardner from UM in a few years) However, all these guys can throw. Until such time as some NFL org decides to commit to a running spread system, those QB runs will be a constraint play rather than bread and butter.

    By all accounts, Tebow is athletically gifted. Most of what he does so badly as a QB can be learned. His footwork, mechanics, and reads suck. Clearly Meyer never taught him those things, and either Denver and NY didn’t bother or he’s too stupid to learn them. There are all sorts of people who make their living teaching the art of quarterbacking. Tebow could (maybe he did) spend his off seasons working out with a famed QB coach. If he’s done all that and NY doesn’t play him, it’s because he’s too stupid to ever figure it out. If he hasn’t done all that, it’s because he’s too stupid to see what it takes to succeed in his chosen field. Either way, no sympathy.

    His best hope at this point will be as a backup at one of the teams that’s brought in a dual threat QB so that they don’t have to completely change their offense in the event of injury, as we saw when RGIII got hurt and Cousins replaced him. … but those teams will still expect him to be able to throw.

    • Denver devoted a lot of effort to trying to teach him and he, to all reports, worked hard at learning. The problem is that these are skills you need to have internalized completely by the time you get to the bigs. Under pressure, his instincts would kicks in and he’d revert to that windup, which is longer than Daisuke Matsuzaka’s. And it’s inaccurate, as we all saw. His HS coach and Meyer weren’t worried about his future, they were worried about winning games right then and he paid for it. He didn’t realize how poorly he was being served and nobody around him was smart enough to realize it.

      • And despite all of these supposed fatal flaws, he still won and won and won again for Denver (with how much prior pro game experience at that point? One start?) Denver’s defense certainly was part of it but the offense had key injuries at the time.

        After Denver, what little interest there may have been in developing Tebow and making the most of his skills was replaced with the complete mismanagement–or is the better word shunning–of Tebow by Sparano and Ryan on the Jets.

        I would say coaching has only developed Tebow to about 50% of the level he could get to if a team believed in him.

      • They certainly aren’t easy skills to learn and internalize to the level of instinct. Nor is it any surprise that Denver (and probably NY) did spend a lot of time and money trying to develop Tebow. I’ve watched the same thing the past two years with D. Robinson at UM; the pressure reverts him to his untrained ways and disaster generally follows.

        • Lex: Here’s the thing. There is a theory afoot in the NFL that you can win with a running QB and that you can incorporate elements of the read option into an effective pro offense. One thing driving this, of course, is that colleges have simply stopped trying to develop pro-style QBs, so if you’re a pro team, you play the hand you’re dealt.

          We see that it can work, and work nicely: Newton, Griffin, Kaepernick, Wilson, and expect the list to grow in the coming years. But all those guys have something in common, something that Tebow doesn’t have: they can throw the ball.

          Anytime you hear people arguing otherwise, you know you’re listening to a Bible-study group masquerading as football fans. Sweet hell, have I had enough of this living in Denver or what? You could go to bars to watch the game and hear these dolts giving Tebow credit for the great tackles being made by the defense. I wish that were an exaggeration, but it isn’t.

        • Great article. The problem with Tebow is he’s a different style of quarterback. He’s more run and less pass than even RG3, Wilson, etc. That sort of quarterback is even more likely to get hurt. So, if you build a game plan around his style of play, you then have to go out and find a backup who plays just like him … or prepare to have your season end by somewhere around week 10.

          That sort of quarterback also becomes less valuable with age. If Tebow got another crack and succeeded, he’d be able to run until he was, what, 29? Then he’d be even worse off than Michael Vick.

          He’d make a great 3rd down running back/wildcat specialist on a team with a well-entrenched starting quarterback. The problem in New York was that there were already questions about the starter and the front office didn’t seem to be on the same page as the coaching staff. As a Bengals fan, the thought of a team like the Steelers taking a chance on him gives me the cold sweats.

    • So, crappygovernment, let me be sure I understand. Were you an NFL GM, you’d take Tim Tebow before you’d take RGIII, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson?

      Okay, let’s take it a step further. How many QBs in the league right now do you think are better than Tebow? This ought to be fun.

    • See, this is the sort of nonsense that makes those of us who like football dismiss the arguments of the Tebowista’s. You say goofy stuff like this that is simply untrue. Yes, Tebow is bigger and taller, but he’s not faster.

      Tebow’s combine time (4.7) was much slower than Wilson’s (4.55,) Kaepernick’s (4.53,) RG3’s (4.41.) It was even slower than Andrew Luck’s! (4.67.)

      Tebow is elusive and a good runner, but it’s not because he’s faster.

      • From watching that scamper last weekend I’d have guessed Kaepernick was even faster than that. He looks like he’s 4.4 in full pads. Tebow is elusive and he’s a very physical runner, but there are defensive linemen who are faster. For instance, in last year’s combine there were five DEs who ran 4.7 or better and there were even two TACKLES that ran better than 4.7.

        Tebow’s 4.72 was only the sixth fastest QB time in his own class – freakin’ Sam Bradford outran him. Noted jackrabbits Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy were only .02 and .07 behind him, respectively.

        Not that I expect any of this to alter your opinion in the least. Tebowistas are notoriously fact-resistant.

        • What is wrong with all you people. You all want to be sports analyisists. It’s funny. Tebow stands outside of your math. He plays..he wins. He will never add up in math and numbers except for wins. He is a born leader and helps teams go to the next level..if you give him a chance. He took a less of a team than peyton manning had(but I love peyton) and brought them farther… You all make me laugh… he can’t throw.he cant do this.he can’t do that….HE CAN..HE WILL.

        • Sigh. Tony, you got me brother. I want to be a sports analysisist, and that’s probably a foolish dream on my part. Why I stand about as much chance as an average sized, stupid, slow guy with a bad arm does of becoming a starting NFL quarterback. Wait a minute….

          Look, this is fun, but Tebow is about to be out of a job. If he were good, he wouldn’t be. It’s that simple. Tebow is about to be where he belongs, showing people to their seats in his father’s church.

  8. Sam: I agree completely. The major difference is that you can win by incorporating “elements” of the read option spread. I agree. Whole-heartedly in fact, because as a constraint play it gives a schematic advantage to the offense even if the QB is not regularly keeping the ball. Of course the new breed of QB in the NFL also appears to have the green light to get out of the pocket and run. Combine those two things and you can potentially eliminate a defender from coverage because he has to spy the QB. And i also agree completely on throwing the ball. For those elements to generate success, there has to be a threatening passing attack. Otherwise you beat it just like you do in college, and it has not proven itself invincible in college.

    I wish Chip Kelly had jumped to the NFL. I think his deployment of spread concepts would work better than the true spread-n-shreds of Rodriguez and Meyer (and the other Kelly).

  9. Chip Kelly finally did jump to the NFL, Lex, as you’ve no doubt heard. This is as enlightening a thread as you’ll find at any sports site. Tebow has got to accept that it’s time to learn how to be an FB or TE — like, yesterday — if he has any hope of staying in the NFL.