Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Must-See: Tebow Mic'd Up

Take 6 minutes and watch this incredible footage of Tim Tebow mic'd up by NFL Network during Sunday's win over Houston. Some awesome stuff there. (h/t: OGGOA)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tim Tebow's Top 5 Moments of 2010

No end-of-year coverage would be complete without a look back at the Top 5 moments of the year. Let's review for Tim Tebow:

5. "The Gallop": A late-emerging contender! Tebow romping for a 40-yard TD on 3rd-and-24 for his first NFL TD as a starting QB.

5. The Endorsements: First EA Sports, to be the cover of NCAA Football 11. Then Nike. Then Jockey. Then, this week, FSR sports drink, in an upset. Few athletes -- certainly no rookies -- had a marketing impact like Tebow. (Let's not dwell too long on the time I stayed up until 1 a.m. waiting for his limited-edition shoes to go on sale, only to fall asleep with 5 minutes to go.)

4. The Super Bowl ad. The most talked-about Super Bowl ad of the year -- even more before the game than after it. Tebow's power to command attention seemed to sneak up on mainstream sports media that hadn't followed Tebow's career more closely. (I remember when this story started as a tiny item in a Colorado Springs newspaper, totally going under the radar.)

3. The Sugar Bowl. A record-setting way for Tebow to close his Florida career. (Remember how FoxSports.com had a live camera shot on Tebow the whole time? A fascinating experiment.)

2. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Your draft status isn't what a "draft expert" says you are; it's wherever you end up getting picked. Tim Tebow IS a 1st-round NFL Draft talent, because he was taken in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

1. The 4th quarter of the Broncos' win over the Texans in Week 16 of the NFL season. Amazing to think that anything could have eclipsed Tebow going in the 1st-round of the draft -- then again, some of us never doubted for a second that he would get drafted in the 1st round. But Sunday's thrilling come-from-behind performance was unexpected -- even to Tebow's biggest fans.

Partly because of the unexpectedness, but mostly because of the tangible, on-field performance itself, this closes 2010 as the top highlight of Tim Tebow's year.

(It is probably worth adding that getting to interview Tebow face-to-face back in April ranks among my own Top 5 favorite -- and certainly most memorable -- moments of the year.)

Happy new year to everyone. Thanks so much for your continued support. Big new things coming for me beginning very early in January. Rest assured: I'll be keeping you updated!

-- Dan

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Breakthrough Game

I think that even among the Tebow faithful, they didn't see him performing this well, this fast.

Week 2 of the Tebow-as-starter Era might have been Week 16 of the NFL season -- and might have come against the woeful Texans D -- but it was one of the biggest statements made by any player this weekend:

Just Win.

A slow start was ultimately eclipsed by two 4th-quarter TD drives of 70+ yards each, including the game-winning drive that ended with a 6-yard Tebow scoot into the end zone.

That bookended a 300-yard passing day for Tebow (something that presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford has only done once this season, in 15 starts).

On the season, Tebow has accounted for 8 TDs -- about a half-dozen more than most were willing to project (but right in the middle of my prediction of 7-10 TDs for him).

But the story of the game wasn't the stats -- it was the Comeback, leading the Broncos to a win that seemed out of reach just a quarter before.

It was a breakthrough performance.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brand Tebow: FRS Drink Deal

Did you think it was a lock that Tim Tebow would sign a sports-drink endorsement deal with Gatorade? Think again.

Tebow signed a deal with FRS -- a drink he had used personally before and at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Here is what makes the deal innovative: Tebow reportedly got equity in the company as part of the relationship. This is huge.

When Vitamin Water was first starting out, they gave a slice of equity to 50 Cent to be an endorser. When the company exploded, 50 Cent made millions more than he would have as a regular endorser.

Tim Tebow's marketing portfolio is well-diversified: Natural fits like EA, market leaders like Nike, interesting "mainstream" partners like Jockey and, now, a calculated reach with a market insurgent, like FRS.

Team Tebow came up with a really impressive effort on this one.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Broncos Tebow: It's a Start

I live out-of-market for Broncos games, so I had to head to my nearest bar equipped with DirecTV to watch Tim Tebow's debut as an NFL starting QB yesterday afternoon.

The rest of the folks there were either for the Jets or Steelers, but I out-whooped them all when Tebow, on 3rd-and-24, galloped for that 40-yard TD. What a classic "Tebow" moment.

Then, on the very next drive, when Tebow threw that lob into the end zone, I -- like everyone else watching on TV -- saw on replay that the catch was good for a TD.

Now, the catch was amazing -- but let's not underrate the throw, which split two defenders and gave Brandon Lloyd ANY chance at making a play.

Boom: Two series, two TDs -- one rushing, one passing. Classic Tebow -- and it was only his first start ever.

The performance was more than an acquittal of Tebow's NFL-worthiness; it was a statement that he has the potential to have a big impact on the game.

Don't hang the Broncos' loss on Tebow -- everyone recognizes that it was Denver's D that failed the team. On offense, let's see less calls for line-plunges by Tebow and more scoots around the outside that worked so well in the first half of the game.

But all in all, it was about as good of a start as you could have hoped for: Big, signature, TD-scoring plays, complemented by competent game management totally worthy of an NFL QB making his first start.

It's a start. A great start, in fact.

UPDATE: After filing this post, just read Woody Paige's column today. It's a must-read, as you would expect, and we're on the same page.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Tebow Time!

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Tim Tebow will be the Broncos' starting QB tomorrow in Oakland, with a scheduled 4:15 ET kickoff.

This is huge. I'm not quite sure how else to put it. For Tebow fans, this is the moment we have been waiting for since the first day of the NFL Draft -- if not the moment this year his college eligibility ended and his pro career began.

There is no guarantee that he will succeed tomorrow. There is no guarantee he will throw for 300 yards. Or 3 TDs passing, with another 2 rushing TDs -- typical of his career at Florida.

However, there is a 100 percent guarantee that he will play as hard as he did in any game at UF. And there is a 100 percent guarantee that Tebow will be the most-watched -- and most fascinating -- storyline of the late-afternoon NFL schedule, if not the entire day.

Win or lose, big stats or not, this is what we all wanted to see. Tebow will gain invaluable experience that will only make him more effective next week, next year and throughout his career.

I couldn't be more excited for tomorrow, and I'm sure you feel the same way as me.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Broncos Tebow: I Think He'll Play

I'm going to make a prediction: I think Tim Tebow will play this Sunday.

Now, that's risky, given how this season has gone. I mean, if he didn't get in the game the LAST time the Broncos played the Raiders, why now?

For starters, Josh McDaniels is gone. And interim coach Eric Dudesville, while eager to play it safe by naming Kyle Orton his starting QB, simply doesn't have the juice to withstand the pressure. But that assumes that Dudesville doesn't want to play Tebow.

The reality is that it is the SAFEST thing to do: What folks don't seem to get is that fans don't care how well Tebow plays -- at least not yet.

They just want to see him play, period.

The same logic holds for why the Broncos -- otherwise totally irrelevant to the season -- become one of the first three highlights you'd see on Sunday if they play Tebow: He simply commands that much attention. And the Broncos, frankly, could use the cachet.

Kyle Orton's injury (or "injury") provides the perfect cover. Tebow already has taken snaps this week with the first team; it is a short leap to put him in the game.

It's Tebow Time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Broncos Tebow: It Is Tebow Time

This cannot be stated more plainly: It is time to start Tim Tebow.

Not just to give Tim Tebow a couple of snaps per game -- the team missed that opportunity, and it might have helped cost Josh McDaniels his job. Now the Dude is falling into the same hole.

I simply cannot believe that in a meaningless game like yesterday's, Tim Tebow didn't play. At this point, it doesn't matter if he steps in and stumbles around like a fool. Just play him.

But we are beyond that: It is time to start him. The team has nothing to lose. Tebow will go up the learning curve dramatically. And -- look at that -- a crappy, losing team will be must-see.

Start Tim Tebow. Let him play. Whatever your slogan or chant, it's time to get louder.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Urban Meyer Reunion?

I am not in any sort of position to make a definitive claim, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that NO, there is NO CHANCE that Urban Meyer becomes the coach of the Denver Broncos.

Does Urban believe that Tim Tebow has the potential to be a very effective NFL quarterback? Absolutely. Does he think he could, if given the reins, make it happen? Absolutely.

But that doesn't mean that he wants everything that goes along with those reins -- coaching the Broncos is a lot more than coaching Tebow.

Tim Tebow needs one thing: A coach who believes in him enough to give him the ball -- in limited (if innovative) ways at first, then full-time.

In other words, he needs a coach that is LIKE Urban Meyer -- if not ACTUALLY Urban Meyer.

Tim Tebow on Urban Meyer

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a man who will be remembered as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. But Coach Meyer was more than just a coach to me -- he was a father figure who cared about me as a person and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.

“I respect that Coach Meyer had the courage to make the decision that was right for himself and his family. He will be blessed and better off for it. I am truly glad that he’s happy and no matter what, we both will be Gators for the rest of our lives.

“While change is never easy, the University of Florida will find the right head coach to continue its proud football tradition and will have the full support of Gator Nation. I wish Coach Meyer and his family all the best going forward, and they will always be a big part of my life.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tim Tebow vs. Cam Newton: The Debate

Tim Tebow vs. Cam Newton: Some folks have gone so far as to say that what Newton has done this year tops any single season from Tebow.

Like we said about Tebow in 2007, Cam has had one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history.

Tebow in '07 was my gold standard. That Newton even qualifies as worthy of a debate speaks volumes about the kind of year Newton has had on the field.

Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. ET, listen in to the Score's "Morning Jones" show, hosted by my old friend Bomani Jones, for an amazing debate: Shanoff vs. Jones. Tebow vs. Newton.

(Click here for instructions of how to listen -- it's on Sirius channel 98, or you can listen on your computer for free here. I'll also post a link after, when his producers have it archived.)

I have no problem laying out my side of the argument: While we might have a fair debate over single-season vs. single-season, Tebow crushes Newton -- and everyone else -- in "body of work."

It's not even close: Two national titles. Three SEC Championship games. One Heisman and THREE Top 3 finishes. And an unprecedented cult of personality.

And so I'm crawling back into Tebow's '07 season:

Passing:
Comp %: 67% (234/350) (11th in nation)
Yards: 3,286 (23rd in nation)
YPA: 9.39 (1st in nation)
TDs: 32 (8th in nation)
QB Rating: 172.47 (2nd in nation)

Rushing:
Yards: 895
YPC: 4.3
TDs: 23 (3rd in nation)
1st QB ever to have 20 TDs passing and 20 TDs rushing.

Compare to Cam's 2010 season -- all stats without an extra game for the bowl:

Passing:
Comp %: 67% (165/246) (11th in nation)
Yards: 2,589 (43rd in nation)
YPA: 10.52 (1st in nation)
TDs: 28 (10th in nation) (Ints: 6)
QB Rating: 188.16 (1st in nation)

Rushing:
Yards: 1,409 (10th in nation)
YPC: 5.8
TDs: 20 (2nd in nation)
2nd QB ever to have 20 TDs passing and 20 TDs rushing. (Actually, 3rd: Colin Kaepernick from Nevada pulled it off just before Cam did.)

You can understand why Tebow's 2007 season was considered the new standard -- but also why Newton's 2010 season was arguably even better.

Now, Tebow was playing with less around him, while Newton was playing with a championship cast around him. (That cuts both ways: Because Tebow had less around him, he was called on to run the ball a lot more than if he had great short-yardage runners on the team; that said, Tebow WAS the best short-yardage running back on the team.)

Newton also had an arguably superior "championship" moment: Leading Auburn back from 24-0 on the road at Alabama, with a championship on the line, to a win. Tebow's closest analogue was leading his own 4th-quarter comeback against Alabama -- but that was the 2008 SEC Championship game.

That segues into the biggest differentiator between Tebow '07 and Newton '10 -- Newton led late-comeback after late-comeback, while Tebow's comeback moments (best typified by "The Promise," which framed the entire SEASON as a comeback) came in 2008, not 2007.

And that turns the comparison into apples-and-oranges: It is impossible to isolate Tebow's 2007 season; you can't ignore the body of work, from his Offensive MVP role on the national-title team of 2006 to his leadership (and stats!) in 2008's national-title year to his role at the center of a Florida team that was one bad game from playing for a national title.

I'm happy to debate Tebow vs. Newton -- it is a lot of fun, particularly when you start talking about the off-field mythologies... for BOTH players -- but I am content to marvel at what Tebow did in 2007 AND what Newton did this season.

That each are able to compare favorably with the other -- let's call them the two greatest individual seasons in college football history -- is amazing enough.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Won't Have Josh McDaniels to Kick Around Anymore

Well, looks like we won't have to speculate anymore about how/when/where Broncos coach Josh McDaniels will (or won't) use Tim Tebow. McDaniels was fired earlier today.

The obvious question -- at least for this blog: Whither Tebow?

McDaniels was Tebow's biggest champion heading into (and out of) the NFL Draft, but despite the promise of using Tebow as innovatively as his mentor, Bill Belichick, would have, McDaniels never delivered.

The big unknown: Will the team turn to Tebow for the rest of this (lost) season? And how will the new coach -- Bill Cowher? -- react to Tebow?

After all, the Broncos used a 1st-round NFL Draft pick on Tebow. You don't just abandon that after a season -- even a few seasons.

For now, however, we don't have to worry about asking the question "When, McD, when?"

Broncos Tebow: NOW Can He Play?

At the risk of repeating myself: NOW can Tim Tebow play?

The season is lost. The only thing Josh McDaniels has going for himself is to show some kind of innovative, entrepreneurial mindset that would give Broncos owner Pat Bowlen -- to say nothing of Broncos fans -- reasons to bring him back next year.

In other words: McD has nothing to lose by changing things up. He has nothing to lose by playing Tim Tebow. If anything, it would make the team must-see, in an otherwise lost season.

So why wouldn't he?