Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now Is Not The Time For Tebow To Start

Let's get one thing straight: I think that there is hope for Tim Tebow in the NFL. Tebow possesses the talent to win with a team in a way that few quarterbacks in the NFL can win; By exciting his teammates and getting other players around the league excited to play with Tim Tebow. You can honestly only say that about a few players around the league namely Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees (I exclude Peyton and Rivers because their teams don't tend to bring in outside offensive weapons though I'm sure people like Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith would love to see them lining up under center).

A team built around Tim Tebow can win. It can't win tomorrow, but over time a team built around Tim Tebow can win a Super Bowl. It would require bringing in players excited about Tebow's athleticism, who are willing to get used to a lefty quarterback. It would require an offensive line built to protect a quarterback like Tebow, and it would require a strong vertical passing game. These are the sort of things that made Carolina a good fit for Cam Newton and Philadelphia a good fit for Michael Vick. The franchises, the coaches, and the players are all willing to make the adjustments to facilitate towards an athletic quarterback. Everyone in the locker room understands that the quarterback may get creative on any given play, and the coaches design their plays around such creativity.

John Fox, the head coach in Denver has no creativity. He likes his offenses the old way. Run the ball up the middle and throw high percentage passes. Throughout his career he's gone to battle with quarterbacks like Jake Delhomme, Vinny Testaverde, and Matt Moore. If this were an SAT question, which quarterback would follow that lineage, Orton or Tebow?

If you answered Orton, you would be correct.

Orton is as "safe" of a quarterback as there is in the league. Like Delhomme, Testaverde, and Moore, there is little upside to Orton. Orton will be an adequate quarterback who if the parts around him are effective will win football games. Like Delhomme, Testaverde, and Moore, Orton can indeed lose a football game for his team. Throughout his career Orton has been an awful red zone quarterback, and that sort of play has translated into what he has done in Denver. Orton is a career 79 quarterback rating and a losing record in Denver. But he's a John Fox type quarterback.

John Fox is trying to build a team that will win via defense and adequate offense. He wants to minimize risks on offense and win games 24-17. Fox wants to have big plays on offense in the passing game and he wants everything to go according to plan. That's why he didn't go after Tebow in 2010, and that's why he doesn't want Tebow in 2011. John Fox and Tim Tebow are simply a bad fit.

But eventually Tebow will have to start in Denver. The Broncos aren't going anywhere and whether it be week 3 or week 13, eventually Tebow will unseat Orton and that's where interesting thins will happen. Specifically, Broncos President John Elway sits in the stickiest seat in the cafeteria here.

If Tebow takes over for Orton and is horrible, there will be nothing lost. Tebow will be traded or cut and the Broncos can move on with their lives. If Tebow succeeds, than Elway and Fox will be forced into a marriage that neither party wants. Of course both party's want to win, but neither wants to restructure their "blueprint" around Tebow.

The best case scenario for the Broncos is that Tebow comes in, shows signs of success, but the Broncos still manage a top 10 pick in a draft with a few great quarterback prospects. Under this design, Broncos management can sell their fan base on the promise and poise of Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, or maybe even Ryan Tannehill and still trade Tebow to a team like Seattle, Miami, Oakland (though an in division trade could spell disaster), or Minnesota for a second round pick. All four of those teams are franchises willing to "take risks" and all four of those coaches aren't afraid of QBs with a tendency to ad lib.

In order for Tim Tebow to succeed in the NFL he needs to be given the right opportunity. Had Michael Vick been thrown into the Herman Edwards Jets he would have failed miserably. Tebow needs an environment where an athletic lefty Quarterback will be given the opportunity to make his own plays while surrounded by players who want to play with him. It will eventually happen in the NFL, just not Denver.

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