Tim Tebow: Football Tragedy

Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow (11) drops back to pass against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow (11) drops back to pass against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s about time to start freaking out about the Broncos again, and as I completed my annual ritual around the web to get caught up on the minutiae of OTAs, I was naturally drawn to the current quarterback competition.

My gut feeling says that Mark Sanchez can be the more mobile Kyle Orton this Bronco offense needs, and if Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian beat him out, well then they are probably just as mediocre, but with more upside. Either way, given the combined dumpster fire Peyton and Brock created last season (36th and 21st respectively in DVOA), whomever plays under center this year will not have to do that much to improve the passing game. Happiness is always relative to expectations, and I’m keeping mine low for now.

Kyle Orton naturally got me thinking about Tim Tebow, and I feel that there is substantively more to dissect on that matter than the current state of the Bronco QB’s. So excuse me while I vent about the football tragedy that was the greatest college football player in history.

What struck me most when I first saw this freshman quarterback truck sticking linebackers in the SEC was that this dude was a football player and a natural leader. The cops in The Wire showed their respect for “real” police by calling them PO-lice, and no matter your opinion of Tim Tebow the quarterback, one look at his highlights and we all know that he’s a FOOT-ball player.

Except Tim Tebow. He thought he was a quarterback. And why wouldn’t he? He was told he couldn’t play quarterback in high school, yet he threw for 31 TD’s against 4 INT’s with a 63% completion his senior year, adding another 21 rushing TD’s. In college, many wanted him to convert to tight end, and all he did was leave Florida with 2 national championships, a Heisman trophy (and another 2nd place finish), 3 first team all-SEC selections, 2 SEC player of the year awards, while graduating with the highest completion percentage in SEC history and adding nearly 3,000 yards rushing at 4.3 yards per carry with 57 touchdowns. There isn’t another player in college football history that can match the entirety of Tebow’s team success, trophies, awards, and stats.

Football had attempted to humble Tebow at every level and each time he stepped on its throat. Ultimately, his ability to scale these mountains and then powerbomb them back into the center of the Earth probably created the hubris that preceded his downfall. His first year as a full time starter in the NFL was one of the most bizarre seasons anyone has ever seen in any sport, as Tebow was staggeringly overmatched by the speed and complexity of NFL defenses, but somehow managed to eke out win after win in the final moments when given the opportunity by another middling team.

This all culminated in a playoff game where despite going 10/21, Tebow was legitimately great, as the Steelers shockingly deployed the one coverage (man) that Tebow could consistently beat, and he dropped dime after dime over DB’s shoulders en route to 2 TD’s, no picks, 316 yards passing, 1 rushing TD and an all-time upset. The next week, the Broncos traveled to Foxboro and Belichick unleashed a simple 3 man rush with an 8 man zone and Tebow literally did nothing against it, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt on 34% completion while taking 5 sacks and fumbling once. Tebow’s inability to throw into tight windows and anticipate coverages had been completely exposed.

His mechanics lead to a delivery that is far too long, compounded by his bad habit of holding the ball at his side, and after John Elway quickly snapped up Peyton Manning, the rest of the NFL issued a referendum on Tebow the quarterback, as no starting jobs became available in a league where maybe ten teams are truly happy with their current QB situation. This was the missed opportunity where Tebow had to realize he was a football player first. He wasn’t the only former Heisman trophy winner humbled by the NFL, and he should have accepted that fact, and turned into the most unique offensive threat football has ever seen.

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Tebow’s NFL destiny was to be a Swiss army knife on offense. The Patriots signed him with the hope that he could one day replace Aaron Hernandez in their offense. At 6’3” 240, he could legitimately be a lead blocker, runner, tight end, blocker on the line, pass catcher, and occasional trick play quarterback throwing bombs down the field. Tebow ran a 4.71 second 40-yard dash at the combine (to compare, Gronk ran a 4.68), so if he ever developed into a legitimate pass catching threat, he would basically live in every single linebacker’s nightmares until the end of time. The creativity you could install in your offense with him out there would be limitless.

Unfortunately, Tebow was determined to prove his doubters wrong yet again and stuck at quarterback. The NFL decided that having a media circus follow around a backup quarterback wasn’t worth it, and no one ever seriously entertained signing Tim Tebow unless they really wanted to play him. In a world where Ryan freaking Lindley gets multiple second chances, you have to imagine that Tim Tebow would too if he were as non-descript as a guy like Matt Moore.

Simply put, because of the media, the only way Tim Tebow is ever going to be an NFL quarterback is if he’s playing every week, and he’s just not good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. It is a true sports tragedy that we all were never able to see Tebow adapt his talents to meet the realities of the highest level of the sport he will forever be a titan of.