There is plenty of team in Timothy Richard Tebow
Vail, CO Colorado
Although I criticized Josh McDaniels last week, I suppose I have to give him credit for walking the talk.
Regardless of who is to blame in the disputes between the coach and Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, McDaniels drafted exactly according to his master-plan: Get quality team players who will buy in to the system. Nothing adhered more firmly to this plan than drafting Tim Tebow in the first round, a move that was almost unanimously viewed as shocking.
The selection of Tebow was either the most brilliant pick in decades or the worst pick in the draft, and we will not be able to see fully which for several years. Critics can rant on and on about Tebow’s mechanical “problems” all they want, but I believe that the selection of Florida’s star quarterback will be much closer to being a brilliant choice than a mistake.
Regardless of how Tebow performs in the immediate future, he brings a lot more to a team than just a strong arm. Tebow is the embodiment of every characteristic you would want in your franchise player. He is a leader, extremely competitive, and has earned a good reputation for himself both on and off the field.
These are rare traits in a niche that is generally populated with the Ben Roethlisbergers and Michael Vicks of the world. Tim Tebow immediately provides the Broncos with a selfless leader; a player who will earn the respect of teammates and fans alike.
Shouldering the blame
Tebow is the definition of a team player. In Florida’s 2008 season, one in which they went on to win the national championship, the Gators suffered only one loss. That defeat came unexpectedly in an early-season game by one point, in a shocking home loss to Ole Miss.
In the game, Tebow played extremely well, throwing for 319 yards and a TD, without throwing an interception. He also added two rushing touchdowns. But in the postgame news conference, you would’ve thought Tebow turned the ball over 10 times and was the sole reason for Florida’s loss.
Tebow took the blame for the loss squarely on his shoulders, apologizing to the media and vowing that “You have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of this season and you’ll never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of this season, and you’ll never see a team play harder than we will the rest of this season.”
This attitude is a sharp contrast to Cutler, who has earned a bad reputation in Chicago for frequently blaming his receivers for his errant throws that resulted in interceptions. Even Jimmy Clausen, thought by most to be a far better quarterback prospect that Tebow, recently blamed one of his receivers for an interception during a film study with ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
But Tebow embodies leadership, as a quarterback should. Regardless of who is actually at fault, Tebow takes the blame himself, a habit that will certainly earn the respect of his Broncos teammates.
Tebow leads by example and is an absolute master of inspiring his teammates as well. He works harder than anyone. While at Florida, he was always the first player to practice and the last one to leave. This offseason, he threw – in his estimates – more than 900 passes a day, trying to improve his throwing motion that many thought wouldn’t translate to the pro game.
Whenever Tebow is doubted, it only inspires him to work even harder. And when many fans at the NFL draft booed Tebow’s selection, it almost certainly added fuel to the fire that is constantly raging within him.
The fact that anyone would doubt a three-time Heisman finalist (one-time winner), who threw for 9,285 yards, 88 touchdowns and 14 interceptions is ludicrous anyway. Tebow shows excellent decision-making, and has the physical tools to make any throw.
Perhaps his throwing motion isn’t perfect and his footwork isn’t graceful, but it’s not like Tebow was earning his stats against junior varsity teams. If he could dominate SEC defenses routinely, who’s to say he won’t dominate NFL defenses too? I’m far more impressed by Alabama’s defense (who had several high draft picks) than the Detroit Lions’ collection of misfits, for example.
The fact of the matter is, no matter what so-called “experts” like ESPN’s Todd McShay want you to believe, drafting quarterbacks is an absolute crapshoot. You might as well roll dice to decide which college quarterbacks will succeed and which won’t.
Philip Rivers and Aaron Rogers were both widely criticized for their throwing motions, while JaMarcus Russell and Alex Smith were praised. To illustrate this point, look at the 1998 NFL Draft. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were regarded as the two best prospects in decades. They were the first two players drafted, and opinions varied on who would have the better career, although they were both presumed to be future Pro Bowlers.
So what happened? Manning is making a name for himself as one of the best ever, and Leaf was in the league for three years (throwing 14 TDs and 36 INTs), and in and out of drug rehab for the last five.
NFL talent evaluators really know absolutely nothing when it comes to drafting quarterbacks. So, since there’s no real guarantee that Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, or Tebow will ever be decent starters, McDaniels and the Broncos’ brass had the right approach. If you can’t guarantee a player will have a successful career on the field, you might as well get the guy who has the amazing intangibles, in case all else fails.
The right hands
Regardless of how the “Tebow Experiment” turns out, for once I agree with McDaniels decision. Tebow is a model citizen, and one of the greatest college football players ever, without question. Tebow is just the kind of guy the Broncos need in their locker room in place of a Brandon Marshall type. Hopefully, McDaniels can do with Tebow what he did with Matt Cassel two years ago, a quarterback with far less natural talent.
For as much as I’ve been critical and skeptical of McDaniels thus far, I think this was the right move. The Broncos are becoming a true team rather than a group of superstars who can’t coexist.
However, if the team doesn’t succeed soon, the clock might be ticking for McDaniels. Josh McDaniels’ future in Denver is now in the hands of Tim Tebow. But if the past is any indication, those are some pretty capable hands.
An alumnus of Battle Mountain, Ascher Robbins writes a weekly column for the Vail Daily. When not obsessing about the Broncos, he is a communications major at UC-Santa Barbara.