Monday, February 22, 2010

Tebow 2.0: Re-Booting His NFL Storyline

Great story from ESPN's Adam Schefter about the process Tebow is going through to re-work his mechanics. A couple of things to take out of it, which I'll get to below, but I wanted to offer this one piece of overarching analysis:

It's not about the Combine or Pro Day, or even about his mechanics. This is about flipping the storyline from the bearish analysis the week of the Senior Bowl to the bullish "redemption" storyline that every single sports media person thrives on. "He's working on it"... "He's getting better"...

Whether or not Tebow is ready to start as a full-time NFL QB in the fall of 2010 -- and why should he be? -- is irrelevant. What is entirely relevant is the story goes from "Tebow can't throw" to "Tebow can throw just fine," which gives a team that wants it the permission to draft Tebow in the 1st round, no matter what the draftniks say. It pushes back against the draftniks.

This story -- including its timing (pre-Combine) and who is filing it (ESPN's lead NFL "information" guy) and how it reads (sympathetic) -- is as much about the perception as the reality of how his throws actually look. Thus Schefter's "Tebow 2.0" characterization. That Senior Bowl stuff? Old Tebow. What is happening now? The re-boot.

A few more thoughts:

*Tebow was always going to have to work on his mechanics.

*Contrary to some opinions (like Kiper's), Tebow did NOT make a mistake in going to the Senior Bowl. If not for the scrutiny at the Senior Bowl, I don't think he and his handlers would have nearly the grasp of the magnitude of the questions about his mechanics.

However, I don't doubt the comprehensive criticism wasn't helpful to those in his training camp who were trying to impress on Tebow and his team that some serious work had to be done. (Although to Tebow's point, I don't doubt that he has always been open to improving his mechanics, although I think the pre-Draft context is a lot different from pre-Senior year context.)

*It is unsurprising for Tebow to skip working out at this week's NFL Combine. He is still working on his revamped mechanics; it would be crazy to roll out the product before that work was done, like announcing the iPhone a year before it was ready.

*Florida's Pro Day on March 17 -- featuring Tebow and the restructured mechanics -- will be the most-watched, most-hyped pre-Draft event until the week of the Draft itself. I would not be surprised if the event was broadcast live.

*Even by the time we get to Pro Day, don't expect his form to be flawless -- but definitely improved. The point is that he is rebuilding it not for that particular day -- or even for mini-camp or training camp -- but for next fall... and even the fall of 2011, 2012 and beyond.

*The work is actually working. Now, his tutors Bratkowski and Trestman are being paid, in part, to promote Tebow's improvements. But I trust them entirely when they say stuff like this:
"You're not looking at the same quarterback," said Bratkowski, who has worked with quarterbacks such as San Diego's Philip Rivers, Philadelphia's Michael Vick and Boomer Esiason. "To say we're there 100 percent where we want to be, no. But we'll be more improved come pro day than we are at this point in time now."

"That's the reason we're trying to rep it and rep it and rep it," Bratkowski said. Those who have seen Tebow's new delivery believe it is noticeably quicker.

"The ball is coming out a lot faster now," Trestman said.
Watch the video in the ESPN link: His mechanics DO look better, already. Just wait for another four weeks' worth of work, then another few months of work after that, then another two years after that. You can see the glimmer of a pathway to mechanics not being a problem, which opens the door for Tebow to be a full-time NFL QB, no matter what draftniks say in January 2010.

UPDATE: Ben Volin has a terrific bit of original reporting on this.


  1. Dan- I am hoping you are right about the Pro Day being broadcast live. This is the thing to see now, not necessarily the Combine stuff.

  2. I also hope he throws better at the Pro Day! He should throw better since he's home at UF and also he will throw with his boys! (Hernandez,Cooper etc) But why not go all the way since he already did the Senior Bowl. Why is the combine not a good idea to throw? Is that showing scouts that he " is a project" that it takes time to have his throwing motion down packed? I dont think they might have the pro day televised. But it is Tebow so you know it will be shown just because.

  3. I don't think it's a good idea to throw at the combine for the same reason it wasn't a good idea to go to the Senior bowl -- that reason is that a lot of people are NOT on Tebow's side. I got that impression at pro day. Look how many players on the opposing team HATED Tebow.. they were taking cheapshots on him left and right. I honestly wouldn't be surprised either if Tebow's own teammates on the south team were sabotaging him by -- intentionally dropping passes and snaps.

    I got the impression that the guys training Tebow right now told Tebow this is what would happen but he wanted to try to overcome it. and this is why Tebow is listening now when they say the same thing will happen at the combine. This is what they mean when they say throwing at a "controlled environment".

    But isn't all this stuff about Tebow changing his motion BECAUSE fo he seniorbowl baloney? I thought Tebow had started working on changing his motion the instant he got out of college.. and THAT was why his passing motion was so uncomfortable at the Seniorbowl.. because he was just getting accustomed to it.

  4. " I honestly wouldn't be surprised either if Tebow's own teammates on the south team were sabotaging him by -- intentionally dropping passes and snaps."

    Sadly, those were my thoughts exactly during the Senior Bowl :(

    I think Tim was in the process of working on/eventually changing his throwing motion...but I don't think anyone (even himself) predicted the hype surrounding his SB criticism, so it pretty much solidified even more reasons for him to work on it.

  5. Anybody who thinks that people were on purpose trying to sabbatoge Tebow at the Senior Bowl need to take their tinfoil caps off. Those kids had a lot more on the line than trying to make Tebow look a little bad here and there. I assure you of that much.

    As for the article, I'm happy to hear this... it shows that Tebow understands the situation and is showing the ability to try to improve his game. I understand why he won't throw that way at the Combine, but I would either do it... or not throw at all.

  6. I think you highly overrate people...I mean I doubt there was some massive conspiracy to ruin Tebow's career.. but I think it is highly likely that guys want to see him knocked down a peg.

    Do you realize that the opposing players were mocking Tebow during the game to the cameras mentioning him by name? Players were mocking him on the field when their was a fumble or Tebow made a bad play and even after tha game when other players were shaking hands.... there is also a photo on Getty images of an opposing player intentionally hitting Tebow in the face mask while he was throwing the ball. This was more than just a normal football play.

    The opposing team made it personal. Sure, in their case it was used as motivation to beat the South team.. but if you think that is all there was to it you are deluding yourself. I think you are incredibly naive if you don't believe this kind of stuff goes on. Why do you think they talk about a "controlled environment" in the first place?

  7. First off, how in the hell can you see intent on a single picture hitting tebow in the faskmask? Things like that happen all the time, and even live you can't tell intent. That seems like a HUGE reach to me...

    Second, I apologize for not making my point clear, I did muddy it up a bit by not being clear that I was talking about his own teammates. The other team had a ton of motivation to go after tebow. First all week people were calling it the "Tebow bowl" all the attention was going on tebow that week as well. So they probably had a little motivation there to go after him. (though I didn't see or notice any of the issues you listed.)

    Lastly, my point hasn't changed one bit. That players on his own team did nothing to try to sabotage him. Nobody in their right mind would, yeah to some fans out there tebow might look bad, but to the scouts, to the players own teams fans, to his family... all those things matter a lot more than making Tebow look a little dumb on a play.

    Sorry, I'm not, nor will I ever buy that. Cause it's insane... but if you want to look at me being logical as being naive, by all means.

  8. You missed all the stuff that the opposing teams did.. so are you sure you aren't being naive?

    Do you realize that opposing fans have trashed talked Tebow's mom and sent him death threats on his phone? Do you remember Alabama fans chanting Tebow while he was crying?

    Opposing teams have threatened Tebow before games.. again.. I think it is silly to think guys wouldn't do small things like NOT put out all their effort to help a guy like Tebow.. intentionally fumble a snap.. intentionally miss a block on the offensive line.. especially knowing Tebow will be blamed just as he was.

    At the very least the opposing team was completely focused on Tebow and it's very possible his teammates were treating him like any other player rather than protecting Tebow's interests as much as others were looking to make a name for themselves by knocking him down .

    Even analysts love to knock Tebow down for no reason.. it's truly bizarre. They seem incredibly biased in their evaluation of Tebow for no rational reason.

  9. @ Jeff: No one said that you had to accept that notion of him being sabotaged. It was just a theory being thrown out there, like the millions of others that surrounded Tim during the Senior Bowl. And I respect you for your opinion.

    Of course no one would like to think that Tim was "sabotaged" by his own teammates, especially since Riley was on his team. But you do have to remember that being Tebow's teammate in the Senior Bowl holds no value to these players...the game was for indivdual gain, not team. And let's not forget, some of these South players came from opposing Florida teams in the SEC and other teams whose dream was to knock off Florida during the regular season. Not saying they did or would do anything, but not ruling it out either. Sorry, that's just my opinion.

  10. @ReedRichards

    You're still throwing a lot in there that I'm not disagreeing with, nor have I ever disagreed with. Obviously we simply have a difference of opinion on this one. You feel that another player will accept a large risk in an attempt to make tebow look bad. I don't feel that way at all.

    @Laura Thanks for being respectful (Something I may have forgotten to do earlier). And I think we agree a decent amount too. I think your point about the game was for individual gain is exactly the reason why I don't think a player would make a "mistake" on purpose to have tebow look bad. Because it makes them look as bad if not worse.

  11. Jeff, again, the opposing players were MOCKING Tebow on TV. Do you think that will help their stock with potential NFL teams? Showing that kind of immaturity?

    That is a perfect example showing how these guys could obviously care less... and again.. they know Tebow will get all the blame anyway. The QB always gets all the credit and all the blame especially in Tebow's case.

    And that is exactly what happened. We didn't hear people talking about how poorly the team around Tebow played. And they did play much worse than the rest of the game coincidentally.

  12. Like I said, we have a difference of opinion on this one. We can just agree to disagree... I'm not going to keep going in the same circle because I've made my point as perfectly clear as I can.

  13. Bottom line is Tebow throwing at his comfort zone is great! thats nice! that like me doing Yoga in my living room and doing it really well because I am intimidated at all the eyes at me at the gym with the rest of the gym gauking! So I do it better and with confidence!! so what if he's been working on it. Thats great he's finally covinced that he has a throwing motion issue. He's working on it he's going to do well at pro day and he will do well when he gets drafted and at mini camp with what ever team he gets into. He's going to work on it and work hard. Guess what SO DOES EVERYBODY ELSE WHO IS IN THE NFL!! Tebow get his throwing motion down pack thats great. But all the other players are hungry to eat him up and work hard at their game. We really cannot say anything else until he throws during games. Then we will see if that Throwing mortion comes back like a bad habit!

  14. I read Violin's story, which mentioned Todd McShay, the draftnik who was one of Tebow's biggest critics. I remember McShay saying he'd take Tebow no higher than the third round.

    On the other hand, McShay a few years earlier had this to say about JaMarcus Russell: ""I can't remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days."