Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weighing In On the Tim Tebow Media Storm

Tim Tebow is an "A-List" national sports star. You may not like to hear that, but he is. Tebow's celebrity is on par with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning, and surpasses that of virtually every other active NFL player. East Coast sports fans (I'm looking mostly at New England and New York) will respond to that statement with something along the lines of, "you gotta be kiddin' me!? Tebow is a bum. What has he eva dun?"

What has Tim Tebow ever done? At the University of Florida he won two national championships, was the first Sophomore to ever win the Heisman trophy, was a finalist for another two Heisman trophy's, had an 88 to 16 career TD to INT ratio, ran for 2,947 career yards and another 57 touchdowns, and was the first player since the 1950's to win the prestigious Maxwell Award twice; an award given out to the best overall player in college football. If you don't watch college football then you don't appreciate Tim Tebow's greatness, the same way where if you don't watch the NBA you don't appreciate Dwight Howard's greatness. Bottom line is that the greatness is there, and Tim Tebow did more for the popularity of college football on the national stage than any player in the history of the sport. College success does not mean Tebow will have NFL success, but it explains his vast popularity without going to East Coast media route and attributing it entirely to southern Christians.

And now there's a media fire surrounding reports in Denver that Tim Tebow is going to again enter the regular season as the backup quarterback for the Broncos, but the truth is that this really isn't that big of a deal. This doesn't mean that Tim Tebow is a bust at the pro level, it doesn't mean that Tebow will never start a game as pro. The only thing that this means is that in week one, Denver will be starting Kyle Orton at quarterback because they believe he gives them the best chance to win.

Last year Tim Tebow started three games for the Broncos, throwing for 650 yards, rushing for 200, with five passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Broncos went 1-2 in those three games which took place in a season where they went 4-12. For a rookie quarterback, those are above average numbers (if you want to use fantasy sports as a means to understand those numbers, Tebow was the leading fantasy QB for the combined weeks of 15-17 last year), and if you've had an opportunity to watch the games in which Tebow played in, there was a certain energy surrounding a lifeless team that didn't exist before.

I understand where Brandon Lloyd is coming from with his frustration surrounding Tebow vs Orton. The fans, the media, and even some players and coaches want to see what Tim Tebow can do in large part because he is already an "A-List" sports celebrity. Some people may read into Lloyd's frustration as a sign that Tebow is an inferior player to Kyle Orton. That may be the case, but what I take from it is that Lloyd wants to know who the QB is going to be because he needs to prepare. One thing that no one is really talking about in this is the fact that Tim Tebow is a left quarterback, and when you have a lefty quarterback, especially a young one, players need time to adjust because the ball is going to be coming at them from a different angle. Not to mention that Tebow's style is drastically different than Kyle Orton's.

When Steve Young, a lefty QB with mobility, took over for Joe Montana, a righty QB with little mobility, there was a learning curve early on, and at times the 49ers players were completely out of sync on offense. Last year, Michael Vick was successfully able to acclimate to the Eagles offense, but he had already been on the team for two seasons, including one full offseason, not to mention the players were used to Donovan McNabb's big arm and ability to throw outside the pocket.

Tim Tebow is probably not ready to be an NFL starting QB, but it doesn't mean that he will never be. I'll also go on the record and say that I believe Tebow will start more than three games for the Broncos this year, because once the Broncos end up 2-5 or 3-6, there will be no reason to stick with Orton. Kyle Orton is a nice quarterback with a career 11-17 record in Denver. He has put up some gaudy numbers the past two seasons in Denver, numbers that Tebow will likely never be able to put up, but I firmly believe that Tebow could put up better numbers than 11-17, and he has done nothing to prove otherwise. Not in college, not in the pros, not in practice, not in the locker room.

Whatever Tim Tebow does is news, and it will continue to be news because it gets ESPN, NFLN, and all the sports blogs, radio shows, and websites great ratings. He will never be Drew Brees, but a franchise would dumb to ask him to be. What Tim Tebow has the potential to be is Vince Young with a good head on his shoulders, and for all the headaches that Vince Young created, he has a much better career winning percentage than Kyle Orton.

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