One of the hot topics from the NFL these past few weeks has been the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of Tim Tebow at the quarterback position. Since we’re on a bye week and Steeler news is thin, I thought I’d venture out in to the world for a minute. As it happens, Tebow’s world is striking similar to what we’ve experienced here in Steeler Nation. There are tons of reasons half the world wants Tebow to fail and the other half are believers, and I’ll give you my two cents on why, at this time, I’m on the band wagon.
As we’ve seen from Tebow since his entering the NFL after winning two National Championships and the Heisman trophy at Florida, changing your mechanics to fit the NFL is no easy task. Tebow entered the NFL with sketchy footwork and a release longer than Byron Leftwhich’s. His mechanics really haven’t changed all that much, but since nabbing the starting position from the always ineffective Kyle Orton, Tebow is 4-1.
No one will deny (I don’t think) that Tebow is a very skilled athlete. His ability to run the ball, take a beating, and get in to the end zone as a runner is impressive. Inspiring, even. It is Tebow’s quarterbacking ability that is in question (not his religious affiliation, mind you), and unfortunately there is more to being behind center than a motivational speech, a prayer, and a couple nice runs. You have to throw the ball. This is where Tebow has trouble. Two games ago the Broncos won on Tebow’s 2 for 9 passing. Granted, one of those passes was a beautiful ball to E. Decker for a 44 yard TD. Last Thursday night, Tebow went 9-20 passing, and manned a 95 yard drive to come back and finish the Jets within the last couple minutes of the game.
In terms of passing, those numbers just won’t work no matter how you slice it. This is a passing league, and in order to be an effective offense, the quarterback needs to be able to throw for a high completion percentage (Rogers is throwing at a record high 75% right now, Big Ben usually hovers around the mid-low sixties). Less than 50% probably isn’t going to cut it. Like I said above, changing your fundamental mechanics, the same mechanics you’ve been winning championships with since you were in college, is no small task. Tebow has lots and lots of work cut out for him if he wants to be considered a legitimate pass threat.
All that being said, winning is winning. Everybody in the world wants to fix something that really isn’t broken. The broncos are winning. For some reason, somehow, they are winning. They’re not just winning, they’re winning because of Tim Tebow. Before Tebow the Broncos were pitiful. It’s almost like they’re still pitiful, they’ve just started to believe that they can win, and that counts for something. Tebow has showed his team that when the game is on the line he can be called on to usher a 95 yard drive, or throw a 44 yd TD pass. His team is beginning to believe that whatever it is that is inside of Tebow, besides Jesus, “IT” means they’re never out of the game.
Powerful stuff, and not so unlike the situation Steeler fans have going on in Pittsburgh. Big Ben has always been criticized for his unorthodox play. He doesn’t have the same fundamental problems Tebow has, but he has the same knack for winning games in the clutch. In 2005, Roethlisberger wasn’t much to write home about statistically speaking. He was a good quarterback behind center, and had some pretty great games that year (championship game against the Broncos for one…), but for the most part, the Steelers were still a running team, leaning heavily on the legs of Fast Willie Parker and The Bus. Roethlisberger didn’t throw as much as he is able to now, effectively, but he was able to make the big plays when the Steelers needed him the most.
Of course, we all know that he has developed in to one of the leagues best quarterbacks, and is now one of the better passers in the league in general. But still, he holds the ball too long, he takes too many hits, there’s some off the field stuff that has been problematic…No so unlike Tebow.
Let me be clear here. Being outspoken about your religion and talking about it to reporters is nothing new. Athletes (see Reggie White, Deon Sanders etc), Actors (See Tom Cruise), and other celebrities (See President George W. Bush), have never been shy about their religions, whatever they practice. This is nothing new, and although it could be annoying for some, it’s not the thing that is up for debate here. Tebow has managed to polarize the football world with his talks of Jesus, and his Bible verses etched in to his eye black stickers. Get over it. This game is about winning, and only about winning. That’s what’s in question and that’s what’s at stake here. Nothing else.
There are some who say Tebow’s style of play just isn’t sustainable, and there are others that just want to believe that what they’re seeing isn’t just some fluke. Remember, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl and won it on the arm of a still developing, albeit at times electrifying, quarterback in Big Ben.
Personally, I’ve always been a believer. It’s fun to believe in something that seems improbable. It seems as though the entire world is against Tebow, yet he comes through in the clutch, again and again. When he was still in college, I remember all the debate about Tebow. His mechanics suck, he’ll never make it in the NFL, no one should draft him, he’s not going to do well, we’ve seen it time and time again with other college stars who can’t succeed in the NFL…Blah de frickin blah. Well, I said it then: He’s a winner. He’s a winner, he’s a winner, he’s a winner. Who the hell cares what the stats look like if you win games? He may never be a fantasy play, but as long as he can run the ball in from 20 yards out to beat what was supposed to be a Super Bowl caliber team this season, why the hell try to fix it?
I will say this: the jury is clearly still out on this guy. There is a relatively small sample size of work to look at, and Tebow has plenty of time to develop in to a passer. In the mean time, it’s fun to root for someone who is such an underdog in the eyes of Sports Media. Sometimes I wonder how these NFL analysts lost their awe of the game. Anyone with a shred of love for the game has to see how beautiful a story this is, and how fun it is to root for his success.
Best of luck to Tebow moving forward. I hope he shuts everyone up in a big way. Unless he’s playing the Steelers.
Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMeckler, I tweet a lot.