Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Not For Short Yardage

I'm a little baffled by Josh McDaniels' insistence on not using Tim Tebow in short-yardage situations:
"We're not going to do that in short yardage. People who mention that, I don't know, that's ridiculous."
You could make the case that suggesting that the team use Tebow in short-yardage situations is no more ridiculous than a coach rejecting any possible solution to a team's glaring problem.

Here's what I mean: You would think that given the Broncos' inadequacy in short-yardage situations, McDaniels would be MORE open to new, out-of-the-box ideas, not less.

Tebow being drafted by McDaniels once looked so promising, because it would take a fearless, innovative coach to take advantage of Tebow's unique skills -- particularly this season.

If McDaniels won't even consider experimenting with Tebow -- mocking the mere idea of it as "ridiculous" -- then he is probably not the coach we thought he was.

There is still time. Perhaps as the losing continues, creativity with Tebow will seem less absurd to McDaniels.

He might want to pay attention to what Urban Meyer is doing with a rookie quarterback down at Tebow's old stomping grounds.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tim Tebow Stars in Nike "BOOM!" Ad

A little fun from the weekend. Nike has launched a new TV ad campaign focused on the catch-word "BOOM!" The spots are short -- less than 20 seconds -- and they move fast. One in heavy TV rotation featured Tim Tebow and Ndamukong Suh. Here's the clip:



Catchy, right?

Broncos Tebow: 3rd String

Not much else to say beyond that, is there?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trey Burton Does His Best Tebow

Up next: BurtonBlog.com?

Ha: I'll leave that to someone else, but Trey Burton did something that even Tim Tebow never did:

6 TDs. In a single game.

What is most remarkable, of course, is that Burton is just a freshman. Not only did he top any single game's worth of TDs that Tebow had as a freshman, but he topped any production from Tebow at Florida... ever.

Wild stuff, to be sure.

What does Burton in 2010 have in common with Tebow in 2006?

For starters, both are arguably their team's offensive MVPs, even in a non-starting role. After 4 games, Burton has reached that point. And in 2006, I think a strong case can be made that Tebow -- even in a limited role -- played the most critical role in the team's success.

Which brings the two players together: Four games into Trey Burton's Florida career, Urban Meyer has used him at least extensively a he had used Tebow four games into Tebow's career.

2006 Week 1: Tebow had one touch (and one TD).

2006 Week 2: Tebow accounted for 143 yards, including a team-high 9 carries for 62 yards and 6/9 passing for another 81. But no TDs in a Florida route of UCF.

2006 Week 3: 7 carries for 29 yards against Tennessee. Zero TDs, but that critical, season-saving 2-yard run on 4th-and-1 in the 4th quarter on a drive that would end with the Gators' game-winning TD.

2006 Week 4: 6 carries for 73 yards and 1/2 passing for 12 yards (but 0 TDs) in a fairly easy win over Kentucky.

You get the sense -- even with an eventual outcome of a national championship -- that four games into the 2006 season Urban Meyer really wanted to use Tim Tebow a lot more than he did -- particularly in the red zone or near the goal-line. (Something you saw in Week 6 when Urban unleashed Tim Tebow near the goal-line against LSU.)

And so, four years and two championships and top-of-his-profession success later, Urban is doing with Burton exactly what he wanted to do with Tebow this early in the season five seasons ago.

Urban is removing the starting QB in key red-zone situations and letting Burton run the offense. And he is calling Burton's number (or should I say NEW number), over and over.

When you score 6 TDs in a single game -- in the fourth game of your college career -- the possibilities seem sort of limitless. It is exciting to see Urban Meyer taking advantage.

Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels might take a lesson.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Throwback Tebow: Kentucky Week

Apologies for the light posting this week, a function of very little happening on the Tebow beat -- perhaps due to his Week 2 DNP? -- and a bunch of stuff I've been working on this week.

(By the way, in the 14 months since TimTeblog.com launched, this past 7 days has been, by far, the slowest week for Tebow-related material.)

I have to say: Rivalry Weeks for Florida (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State, etc.) are all well and good, but I'm never going to experience "Kentucky Week" the same way after last year's game.

The image is seared into my memory: Tebow lying on the ground, arms perpendicular to his body, which was otherwise limp and -- dare I say -- lifeless.

For more than a fleeting second, I was convinced he was paralyzed. And that was just about the worst feeling in the world. Horrifying, really.

Kentucky defensive lineman Taylor Wyndham earns a place in Tebow mythology for his part -- certainly not intending to rush Tebow into a head injury. Wyndham will hear 90,000 boos rain down on him in the Swamp the first play his name is called out over the PA system.

But even after Tebow got up, there was the dazed look. The live-on-TV vomiting. The camera tracking him toward the ambulance. More glazed looks from Tebow.

It was the most indestructible player in the history of college football... laid low.

And then, heading into a bye week before a season-making road game in primetime at LSU, the incessant will-he-or-won't-he debates.

But the "Kentucky game" will always make me wince -- even shudder. Mostly about my fears of what might have been, fortunately not what was.

That is the oddest thing about it: Given that I thought Tebow was paralyzed, the concussion was nearly a relief. Nearly.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tebow Doesn't Play vs. Seahawks

Tim Tebow's home debut for the Denver Broncos was a non-event from a Tebow-standpoint -- unless you judge "good days" on wins, in which case it was a terrific outcome.

It should surprise no one that the way Kyle Orton was playing -- like an All-Pro, frankly -- that Josh McDaniels wouldn't even put Tebow in for a change-of-pace play or two.

I actually thought that the offense was chugging along so smoothly -- and the game was so securely in hand -- that I thought McD might put Tebow in for a few plays.

He didn't, but it's not like Orton didn't deserve to take every snap along the way, all the way to the winning finish. I'm sure Tebow was thrilled to see the team get its first win of the season.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Broncos Tebow Week 2: Seahawks

It is Week 2 of Tim Tebow's rookie NFL season, and this week's milestone is his first-ever (regular-season/"real") home game, against the Seattle Seahawks, in front of what should be a frenzied, pro-Tebow crowd of Broncos fans.

If offseason jersey sales and training-camp attendance figures are to be believed, the crowd should be decked out in Tebow gear. (My blue Tebow Broncos jersey finally arrived -- 6 weeks after ordering it -- a little earlier this week.)

All signals point to similar use of Tebow as last week: 2-3 plays, with the expectation that they will be QB keepers. (That makes it a perfect moment for McDaniels to switch things up and either let Tebow pass or pull off something besides a plunge up the gut.)

No posting until Sunday, as I'll be observing Yom Kippur, but as I will be planted in front of my TV on gameday, expect some updates throughout the late-afternoon game.

In the meantime, pleasantly recall the way Tebow crushed Tennessee throughout his Florida career.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tim Tebow vs. Maurice Jones-Drew

"It wasn't really about us. It was about Tim and his 2 yards and 2 carries."

-- Maurice Jones-Drew, with a snide aside about the fan demographics at Sunday's Jaguars-Broncos game.

MJD is an avid fantasy football player. Suffice to say, he probably doesn't have Tebow on his roster (yet!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Broncos Tebow: No Change in Strategy

Don't expect Josh McDaniels to change his strategy with Tim Tebow. I will say this: He could definitely afford to try to expand things a little bit.

An aside: Tebow takes a lot of caustic grief for not being "ready" or "able" for the NFL. But did you see Kevin Kolb? Heck, did you see Mark Sanchez last night? These are "starters," apparently.

Let's put it more plainly: Even playing in his first-ever NFL game -- and let's credit the Packers and Ravens defenses as being awesome -- Tebow could have done better than Kolb or Sanchez.

UPDATE: Worthwhile perspective from the AV Club, but I'd throw in there that I'm not suggesting he start (yet) -- and I'm not sure even the most ardent Tebow fans think he should be starting right now. Also note that the AVC seems to be fine with Tebow starting eventually, just not -- y'know -- Week 2. Fair enough.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tim Tebow's Real Broncos Debut

"Dud debut if ever there was one." That's not me -- that's the evaluation of SI's Peter King, who had been bullish on Tebow since the summer.

I think King doesn't mean Tebow was a dud, specifically, as much as the way he (and I and lots of other people) thought Broncos coach Josh McDaniels would use Tebow more aggressively.

It wasn't about Tebow playing in Jacksonville, so the Broncos should play him -- it was that Tebow offers an innovative coach the strategic opportunities to produce productive gains.

When Tebow got the ball on the third Broncos offensive play of the game, it looked promising, even if the run itself was for just a yard.

Tebow later was inserted again for a QB keeper: Again, just a single yard. And that was the extent of Tebow's productivity -- and McDaniels' originality.

I think Woody Paige saw it right: With less than 5 minutes to go, with the Broncos down a TD and sitting on the Jags' 14-yard-line on a make-or-break 4th-and-3, it should have been "Tebow Time."

It is sheer speculation -- even delusion -- but does anyone else think that in his first-ever NFL game, in front of a "home" crowd in a stadium he has basically destroyed teams in for four years, Tebow doesn't create either a 1st-down or a touchdown?

Instead, the play call from Orton to Lloyd fell incomplete -- close, but ultimately a failure -- and the Broncos went on to lose the game.

Tebow spoke briefly with reporters after the game: "Obviously I’m competitive and I love playing in games. So I love being out there, but for me right now, I’ve just got to learn and try to improve every day."

For me, the disappointment -- the "dud," in King's words -- was that given this opportunity to innovatively take advantage of Tebow (and why else did McDaniels draft him?), McDaniels passed.

Obviously, if he puts in Tebow and he falls short, McDaniels would have been crucified. But at least he could have said "I won't apologize for trying something unorthodox to try to tie or win the game." Instead, McDaniels was risky in the wrong way, and it didn't work out.

Hopefully the lesson is that for a non-playoff team like the Broncos, there is very little downside to innovation. And hopefully next time, McDaniels gives more consideration to Tebow Time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tim Tebow on Twitter: @timtebow

Tim Tebow has joined Twitter. You can find him at @timtebow.

As I tweeted earlier today, I think that his Twitter account will reach 100,000 followers in the next seven days -- if not by the end of the weekend. (At the time of this post, he is at nearly 12,000; he was at 600 roughly 4 hours ago.)

And I predict he will cross a million sometime in the middle of the NFL season, perhaps as early as Halloween. (Then again, you'd think by now, I would understand the Tebow Phenomenon well enough to boldly predict he will cross a million followers by Sunday's kickoff.)

You can follow me at @danshanoff and this blog at @timteblog.

(We'll see if @timtebow follows either!)

Team Tebow has also launching TimTebow.com, not to be confused with TimTeblog.com.

In case you're wondering "GB-squared" on his message to fans on his new site stands for "God Bless, Go Broncos."

Both the new site and the new Twitter feed qualify this as a huge day for Brand Tebow.

Tebow Quote of the Day: MJD

"It's his town, man." -- Maurice Jones-Drew, on the local enthusiasm for Tim Tebow in Jacksonville this weekend. (And MJD is right.)

Broncos Tebow: Rookie Season Preview

Tim Tebow's pro career technically (or perhaps not-so-technically) began the minute his all-time-great college career ended triumphantly in the Sugar Bowl.

Then came the pre-draft training. ("Tebow 2.0")
Then the Draft itself. (Defying the doubters.)
Then rookie camp. (Hysteria!)
Then training camp. (Haircuts!)
Then exhibition season. (TDs! INTs! Injuries!)

Tim Tebow has yet to play a down in a regular-season (read: real) NFL game. He has the league's No. 1-selling jersey. He is a Top 3 product pitch-man. He is one of the most popular players -- certainly the most intrigue-inducing player -- in the league.

And that is all before this Sunday, when Tebow will make his NFL debut -- either symbolically or ironically, depending on your point of view -- in Jacksonville.

It isn't even clear Tebow will play a down -- although it is an educated guess to say that Josh McDaniels knows it is in everyone's best interests to find a way to get Tebow the ball at least once.

After all, Tebow only touched the ball once in his first-ever game at Florida, five years ago last week. It was a QB keeper inside the 5-yard-line -- a touchdown. It is easy to envision a scenario like that in Jacksonville on Sunday.

That play -- and the way Urban Meyer used Tebow throughout his freshman year (his "rookie" year) in college -- is a pretty good template for how McDaniels and the Broncos might deploy Tebow in his rookie season in the NFL. The key word is: Selectively.

It Tebow ready to be a starting QB in the NFL? I'm not sure any rookies are ever ready to be starting QBs in the NFL in Week 1. Not Peyton Manning. Not Tom Brady. Not Aaron Rodgers. Not Troy Aikman. Certainly not Sam Bradford, who will start anyway.

The point is that Tebow doesn't have to be a starting QB in the NFL -- at least not yet (and at least in the absence of the kind of random accident, like an injury, that thrusts any NFL backup into a starting role).

But that doesn't mean that Tebow doesn't have a role to play in his rookie year. Thinking back to his freshman year at Florida, a valuable role.

There are short-yardage situations where critical first-downs need to be gained, to extend drives or manage the clock. There are red-zone or goal-line situations where touchdowns need to be scored. Tebow doesn't have to have Manning's release or Brady's accuracy or Rodgers' zip.

He just needs to be... Tebow.

He needs to be good enough to make the throw or good enough to muscle a run -- or, perhaps, potentially good enough at either that a clever coach can create enough defensive uncertainty that the play will be a success, no matter what the call.

That has always been Tebow's appeal -- at least for his rookie year. That he can allow for an unorthodox coach to create an unorthodox play with an unorthodox result:

*"4th-and-short" to "1st-and-10."

*Removing the "conventional" starting QB at the goal-line for his backup, who is a goal-line specialist.

*Forcing the defense to account for the quarterback as a ball-carrier -- creating confusion somewhere, just long enough to pull off a positive, even game-impacting play.

In an ideal world, that is Tebow's role this season: Contributing in a way that impacts the team's chances of winning games in the short term, while being given training and coaching in how to play the position full-time in the long-term.

Tebow fans have seen this before: The fall of 2006. It worked -- at least well enough for Tebow's team to win a national championship. Some might argue he even wasn't used enough.

But the fact is that even a little Tebow can go a long way, if he is deployed innovatively enough.

That has to be the extent of fan and expert expectations for Tebow this season. And that feels like both a challenge in and of itself -- and something he is more than capable of matching.

-- D.S.

Programming note: I will not be blogging tomorrow or Friday for the Jewish holidays. Saturday I will be at The Swamp for the Florida-South Florida game, but will certainly update if any news related to Tebow's status in Sunday's season-opener comes up. As I mentioned before, I will be in Jacksonville on Sunday -- just long enough to climb on an airplane about an hour before the Broncos and Jaguars kick off and probably landing and finally settled at home in a position to post here well after the game is over. But I will certainly have plenty to say in the wake of the game's results by Monday morning.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Vikings Post-Script

Sorry for the light posting in the wake of Tim Tebow's preseason finale versus the Vikings. I have been in transit to Tebow Country -- St. Augustine -- since the early morning and just arrived.

(Yes, my stay will include not one but two Gator home games -- alas, I will by flying out of Jacksonville one hour before Tebow and the Broncos kick off against the Jaguars.)

Let's talk briefly about the game last night:

*It was Tebow's most extensive and valuable playing time yet, which can only help.

*The first play was... well, forgettable: A fumble that turned into 6 for the Vikings. He also threw an interception -- turnovers plagued the Broncos, generally.

*All in all, though, Tebow showed poise in completing 12 of 16 passes, including a TD.

I will check in from the Swamp, but look for extensive Tebow/NFL Preview coverage here next week, as we gear up for Tim Tebow's first real NFL game.*

(* -- That's a hint: I think he will get 4-6 snaps in Jacksonville, including the chance to make a play from inside the red zone. Josh McDaniels has big plans for Tebow right away.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tebow Flashback, Florida Forward

It feels entirely appropriate that I want to talk about Florida's post-Tebow era ("P.T.E.?") on the 5th anniversary of his very first game as a Gator -- September 2, 2006.

Ironically, Tebow barely played -- yet offered marvelous foreshadowing of his future: 1 play, 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 TD... en route to a 34-7 pasting of Southern Miss.

I was at that game and vividly remember the crowd's reaction when Tebow entered the game -- there was a buzz. The touchdown brought a cheer louder than anything else that day. (Check out a homemade clip of the TD here.)

There are plenty of "Tebow's legend at Florida started HERE" stories, but that single play five years ago today is as good of a starting point as any.

*****

And so we come to the first game -- the first season -- of the post-Tebow Era, this Saturday at the Swamp against Miami (Ohio).

Tebow has loomed so large over the program over the past four seasons -- even as a freshman (arguably the Offensive MVP of a national champion) -- that this feels... yes, odd.

That is not to say the team will suffer much without him. Even with losing Tebow -- and at least a half-dozen other NFL-quality players -- the Gators are still consensus Top 5.

John Brantley is good -- really good. Good enough to be a 1st-round NFL draft pick... in 2011. (Think Mark Sanchez after his only year as a starter at USC.)

And Brantley is good enough to lead Florida's offense to a lot of points. I'll call it right now: Brantley will be so successful that people will wonder, in hushed awkward tones, if he is just as good -- if different -- of a fit in the Florida offense than... no, really? Really?

Now, beautifully thrown balls and TDs by the bunch are great, but Brantley will ultimately be judged by winning -- and winning championships. Needless to say, if he can lead Florida to an SEC title this year, past Alabama, he will earn his place, and then some.

I'm not sure Florida will win on October 2 at Alabama -- but I will give them a puncher's chance. Even if they lose there, I do think that Florida will not lose again: That includes winning the SEC East, then beating Alabama in an epic rematch in the SEC Championship Game.

(That may or may not be enough to make the national title game. In theory, a one-loss SEC champ that beat the No. 1 team in the country -- and whose only loss is on the road to the No. 1 team in the country -- has a pretty good resume. But the BCS formula will favor lesser teams with unblemished records, whether they are from the Big 12 or Big 10... or Idaho.)

But I think that Florida's offense is in good hands with Tebow's heir to Urban Meyer's spread offense. Tebow will be missed, in a lot of ways, but the offense will be less reliant on the QB keeper on 1st-and-10 or 3rd-and-short -- that diversification will make the offense more dangerous: As dominant as Tebow was in 2007 or 2008, remember what a factor Percy Harvin and the other wide receivers presented for defenses.

The best analysis is to recognize that John Brantley isn't Tim Tebow -- not in skill-set or style or celebrity. Urban Meyer is ready to move on; the team is ready to move on; Brantley is ready to take over.

Florida fans may or may not be ready to move on, actually. The legacy of the greatest college football player of all time doesn't dissipate when he leaves campus, or the following season... maybe not for a while. But they will certainly be cheering just as loudly for the 2010 team. Even with expectations like I outlined above, they don't compare to last year's near-suffocating expectations from Day 1 of "championship or bust." The breathing room will feel refreshing.

*****

I will be at Florida's season opener on Saturday at the Swamp, just like I was 5 years ago. I will be wearing my blue Tim Tebow jersey, like I have worn for every game since the jerseys came out in advance of the 2007 season.

And I can't lie: It will feel strange to sit in the Swamp wearing it, without him on the field.

How do you feel about it? Put your observations in the comments.

-- Dan

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brand Tebow: Shuts Down Infringement

I don't know the folks who run -- sorry: ran -- TebowTees.com but I can tell you that as soon as I heard about them, I knew the business simply wouldn't last.

Team Tebow is entirely within its rights to shut down commercial companies trading on Tebow's name. I'm sure sports media folks will rap Tebow's knuckles, but every brand does it.

The T-shirt company should have known this was coming. There are a bunch of T-shirts out there that traded on Tebow's cachet without outright infringement on his name.

(There is the one model of T-shirt that has a "T" inside a Superman-style geometric outline. There is the T-shirt that says "HE15MAN." There are plenty of T-shirts that display the "Promise" speech. None were as blatant or brazen, and they have largely been left alone.)

Anyway, this development is entirely unsurprising -- and credit the TebowTees folks for folding the online shop when Team Tebow asked. Let's hope it was all relatively friendly.