One of the most divisive athletes of recent memory.
On the one hand, you have the fans who love the outspoken Christian, "goody two shoes" personality. They claim he is perhaps the best Quarterback ever to play college football, pointing to numerous awards including being the first Sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. They point to the records he's broken, such as being the first player in college football to pass and run for 20 TDs in a season. They point to the University of Florida's record under Tebow, including a national title in 2008.
Then there are those who say Tebow's public persona is fake, nobody can be THAT perfect. They point to the pictures taken with large breasted women and insinuate that what could be happening when the camera isn't on might not be consistent with the morals he espouses. They say that while Tebow was a great college player, he is more fullback than quarterback. Most of his records have to do with his running ability rather than passing. They talk about his poor throwing mechanics and the system he played in at Florida as reasons he will be a failure in the NFL.
We hear the scouts and draftniks talk over and over about how, even though he has "1st pick overall intangibles" as Mel Kiper said, Tebow simply does not have what it takes to be an NFL QB. As many of us are planning to watch the Senior Bowl this afternoon, let's get prepared to look at why the scouts say he won't make it, but also see how Tebow has responded to a meer week of NFL coaching.
Why Tim Tebow Will Never Be An NFL QB
Exhibit A - Tebow Is A System Quarterback
As with most quarterbacks coming out of college these days, Tebow played in a Spread Offense. The difficulty of any spread offense is the difficulty of getting good play action on a handoff fake. We have seen one way of addressing this with the Pistol formation we ran with Tyler Thigpen in 2008.
Tebow as a QB that was as likely to run with the ball as pass it was in many ways his own play action.
Notice how often after taking a snap he will take a few steps forward as though he were running before stopping and throwing. This causes the defense to react to stop the run, abandoning their coverage assignments. Tebow perfected this with his signature "jump pass". The effectiveness and frequency of his rushes also made the counters and options the Florida offense ran more effective since the defenders had to continue covering the QB in case he didn't actually make the handoff.
Could this be translated to the NFL where the players are stronger, faster and smarter?
Tebow is often compared to Steve Young, who was a QB that ran a lot in college and his early professional career and later had great success in the NFL. However, Steve Young was a scrambler who would run when his blocking broke down. Tebow is not a scrambler. He isn't an escape artist. His rushing yards came on designed runs that took advantage of his athletic talents.
Could an NFL team be successful with a quarterback whose skill set requires he constantly be exposed to injury by head hunting defenses by play design? The QB is the leader of the team and if he goes down, the hopes of the team do as well.
Running backs can play with certain injuries they sustain. Look at the injury Jamaal Charles suffered. A running back with bad shoulders can still play. A Quarterback with injured shoulders can't. Would you really build an offense around that skill set? What happens if he is hurt and can no longer play? Do you have to change your entire offense so your backup can carry on?
Exhibit B - Tebow Can't Take A Snap From Under Center
Since I think most will admit that depending on your QB to rush the ball enough to be his own play action as Tebow did at Florida will not work in the NFL, that means Tebow is going to have to learn to take snaps from under center and learn how to drop back. Many will say this isn't a big deal. What they are ignoring though, is what else the QB is doing AS he drops back.
Taking snaps out of the shotgun, the ball is to you instantly and the QB has space to survey the field. A quarterback taking snaps from under center, however, must be evaluating how the defense is responding to the play action and are covering his WRs routes, all WHILE he is getting his footwork down.
Exhibit C - Tebow Has A Very Poor Throwing Motion
Tebow's throwing motion by Brian Billick:
As for why this is a problem, think about Tamba Hali. How many times have we seen Hali just a half step late getting to the QB? Tebow's throwing motion of bringing the ball to his hip is the equivellent of that half step. That equals more sacks and, as Billick rightly points out, more stripped balls.
Why Tim Tebow Might Be Playing QB In The NFL Four Years From Now
Now that we have dissected the reasons why Tebow will never be a starting QB in the NFL. Let's look at why, given enough time, he might.
Charisma & Leadership
Tebow will NEVER be a Peyton Manning type technically perfect quarterback. But he does have the potential to be a Tom Brady style QB. Brady was drafted in the sixth round because he wasn't physically impressive or had the strongest arm. What Brady did have, was the ability to will his team on by his charisma and leadership.
Those are two qualities that Tim Tebow completely oozes out of every pore. He is unquestionably a leader of men.
As a Senior in High School, ESPN filmed a segment entitled "The Chosen One" about Tebow.
As a Junior, Tebow gave a little speech after a loss to Ole Miss in which he promised to drive himself and his teammates harder than anyone the remainder of the season (they later won the national championship). The fans, players and even the coaches were so inspired that his words were later immortalized on a plaque outside the football building of Florida University that was put up by head coach Urban Meyer.
Of all the skills a quarterback can possess, charisma and leadership, the intangibles, are the most important, and the most difficult to find. Tebow will make the roster of some NFL team for no other reason than that he possesses those two rare qualities.
I know, I know. I said comparing Tebow to Steve Young was a mistake, and its true. I don't see much comparison between Steve Young and Tim Tebow.
The reason I bring Young up is because Tebow could potentially follow a similar career path. Young was drafted by Tampa Bay and poorly utilized. He was considered a bust after two years and was practically given away to San Francisco. Nobody in San Francisco wanted him either, but one man. Bill Walsh.
Sitting behind Joe Montana for four years and benefiting from the coaching of Walsh, Young was finally ready when Montana missed the entire 1991 season with an elbow injury. The rest is history.
If Tebow ends up on a team with a great QB already established that can mentor him and also has a very good QB coach that can spend a few years working on his mechanics, Tebow could end up following in Young's career footsteps.