My inaugual blog post is, to this day, the most widely read blog post ever for Doug’s NFL Draft World. And that’s saying something considering that my 2011 Fall Television Preview Blog had well over 10 views last week.
So as I watched Tim Tebow answer questions following his undeniaby dreadful performance playing for the pretty damn dreadful Denver Broncos against the once dreadful but not-so-much anymore Detriot Lions, I had a strange sensation pass over my body and it wasn’t just the antiobiotics I’m taking for my current bout with strep throat. What I felt was…sympathy.
I actually sort of feel bad for Tim Tebow. Because he had no business being drafted #1; he had no business having all this pressure put on him; and he had no business being thrown to the wolves the way he did on Sunday. Listen the Broncos are a bad team; they traded their best receiver, Knoshown Moreno and Willis McGahee are “ok” backs running behind an offensive line that shouldn’t be – but most definitely is – this worst in the NFL. And it’s not like that Bronco defense is giving the offense any breaks either.
That doesn’t mean Tebow belongs as an NFL starter. He doesn’t. I’m not going to say anything that other’s haven’t said and my opinion on his skill set and liklihood of success isn’t any different than when I called him a douche in this blog 2 years ago. People compare him to Vince Young in the sense of being some kind of Quarterback Savant who has an unorthodox style but somehow manages to “Just Win Baby!” Well Vince Young’s recent travails aside, he was never as bad as Tebow was Sunday. Now Young shad some things going for him – most notably a better team and a coaching staff that didn’t put too much on his shoulders – almost holding him down at times to a ridiculous extent. I don’t recall, however, Young being this jumpy in the pocket; this seemingly uncomfortable after almost every snap, and this inaccurate.
Tebow is who he is. There’s a reason why Scott Frost was never given a chance to make it as a quarterback; while Eric Crouch was dismissed when he insisted on trying to be a quarterback, why Charile Ward was drafted in the first round…in the NBA, not the NFL. Because their skill sets didn’t translate and everyone – NFL scouts, coaches and fans alike – knew it. Sure, you’ll always have your diehards in Lincoln and Tallahassee for whom their college sweetheart can never not be the sweetest. At the end of the day, however, no NFL team wasted a first-round draft pick, a roster spot, and millions of dollars on them as quarterbacks.
Tebow’s cocky, but I don’t think anymore so than Crouch or Ward. He is debatably the best college QB ever but that’s not why he’s so popular. His almost unreal level of wholesomeness combined with our current political climate mixed with the constant media buzz that surrounds us 24-hours a day, 7 days a week made Tebow bigger than he ever should have been and allowed an immature and overmatched coach to hijack an organization and draft him significantly higher than 31 other teams would have.
But watching Tebow complete what really was a truly atrocious performance and then answer questions after it while his coach would only guarantee his starting spot for “at least one more week” I felt like this kid is being put in a position to fail and that’s sad to watch. It’s like watching a teenage tennis player play her first match against Serena Williams; or The Yellowjackets try to keep up on “Sing-Off.”
They’re clearly not good enough to compete with Afro-Blue or Plentatonics, but you almost feel terrible that they’ve been allowed to believe that they could be successful – almost like some cruel trick someone played on them just to watch them humiliate themselves, a la “Carrie.” And while I don’t think Tim Tebow will go on a killing spree (other than killing the hopes of the Broncos ever winning a meaningful fame) I’m not sure an aging Sissy Spacek couldn’t make more accurate passes than the big Christian from Florida.
Watching Tebow reminds me of when first Mike Ditka and then Steve Spurrier insisted on rolling Danny Wuerffel out week after week even though clearly he didn’t have the arm strength to play in the League. You just kept wondering “Why are you doing this to this poor kid. Let him get on with his life so he can become a Long-Term Care Insurance salesman like he was destined to be.” And Tebow will do even better as he’ll inevitably follow his 3-year pro football career in 2013 by giving Jesus-laden inspirational speeches along with Colin Powell, Bill Cosby and a bunch of crooks trying to sell you their bullshit get rich quick schemes at those All-Day seminars they hold in sports arena’s for $1.95 a head.
So before we skewer Tebow’s Sunday performance, I would contend it was any worse than Blaine Gabbert’s with Jacksonville. In fact, Gabbert may have been worse and anyone who’s seen the big Presbyterian out of Missouri knows he’s got a long way to go too. And remember Eli Manning’s first 5 starts for the Giants? Woeful would be too kind.
Of course the difference: Gabbert is and Manning was a rookie (and Gabbert didn’t even get a full pre-season due to the lockout – not that that seems to have stalled Cam Newton’s progress, but still). They didn’t have an entire season and 3 previous starts under their belt. No, Tebow may not be worse than Gabbert right now, but at least with Gabbert you can see how he could be a pro quarterback. It’s not to say he will be successful – Heath Shuler and Tim Couch and even Jack Thompson looked like pro quarterbacks who in the end couldn’t cut it. But Tebow, when he plays, doesn’t look like a NFL Quarterback. He looks like the time Nick Andopolis tried out to be the new drummer with a Dimension on Freaks and Geeks; a boy amongst men.
No, the career I imagine Tebow’s will resemble most closely is that of Akili Smith, who parlayed one really good, really versatile season with Oregon into being the 3rd overall draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999. Smith, similarly to Tebow, seemed to struggle with the Bengals offense almost from the get go. In his first 2 seasons, Smith started 15 games. His stats during that time: 3 wins, 12 losses, less than a 50% completion percentage, 6 TD’s versus 12 interceptions. Despite those woeful numbers, Smith stayed on the team for two more seasons and in his final year (2002), the Bengals handed him the starting job. He would run the team for the rest of the year and this would be his final chance. That final chance lasted all of one game – 12 for 33, 117 yards and interception and a loss. Smith was quickly yanked from the starter’s spot and never played another game.
I imagine that will be Tebow’s ultimate fate. He’ll have his moments but he won’t get significantly better. At some point, John Fox will have no choice to bench him as his surrounding players (many of whom’s NFL careers will be shorter than Tebow’s) lose confidence in him and the Broncos have to see if Brady Quinn can play or not. After that, maybe Tebow lasts one more season in Denver but it’ll be awkward. He won’t be allowed to compete for the starting job and they’ll try to force-feed him into make-shift wildcat formations that will almost certainly stop being used by the mid-point of the season. Then he’ll be cut, or maybe traded, to some sorry team looking for a little fan support (perhaps Jacksonville if Gabbert doesn’t pan out or the Raiders) where he’ll get to start one more game, perform poorly and eventually fade out into a career giving those inspirational speeches about his college days.
Yet I can’t blame Tebow for wanting to play or for being confident in his ability to succeed or for believing that a belief in a higher power will carry him through. What would you like him to say, “No I’m overmatched, but what choice do they have I’m being paid a lot so I have to keep going out there until they mercifully cut me and let me go home?”Every great actor…every great athlete…every great entrepreneur had a point in their life when the only one who believed in them was them. However, so has every failed actor, unsuccessful athlete and bankrupt businessman.
It’s time for both the Tebow-haters and the Tebow-fanatics to leave him alone now. He will not make it as a NFL quarterback because he’s not good enough. But let’s show him so compassion at this point; it’s tough to fail at anything but he doesn’t deserve to be embarrassed in the process.