Monday, October 31, 2011

How Many More Weeks Will Tebow Get?

SI's Peter King is about as fair to Tim Tebow as anyone in sports media. Not in the tank -- simply fair. King is also very tapped in to the Broncos from multiple angles -- Tebow, Fox, Elway.

So I pay very close attention to this note dropped in at the bottom of King's weekly "MMQB" column today:
I think it's a cruel world, but the Broncos won't give the Tebow experiment much longer, maybe two or three weeks, unless he ratchets up his completion percentage (46.1). Can't help but think four things:

If Denver's going to give him a chance, the plug cannot be pulled now, because it's just not enough time; three or four more weeks is fair for the investment the franchise made in the 2010 first-round pick -- even though it was a previous coach who drafted him ... Josh McDaniels would have been more invested in making him succeed, and would have a package of plays (dumpoffs to the backs, curls to the tight end) to get him going ...

John Elway and John Fox, neither of whom would have drafted Tebow in the first round, are going to give him enough time under center to show the citizenry they can't move ahead with him as the every-down quarterback ... And I still believe he can be a winning, hybrid player for a good team. Maybe not quite like Brad Smith, because he lacks quickness. But a player who, when the offense is stalled, can contribute with a package of plays that would be hard to defend as a changeup. Maybe an option quarterback.

"Three or four more weeks is fair." Keep that in mind.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 8: Tough Day for Tim Tebow

The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla only needs a few minutes after the Broncos' pummeling by the Lions to go trolling:

"Those five wonderful minutes against Miami now look like an aberration. Right here, right now, he is the worst quarterback in the NFL."

Kiszla offers no supplemental explanations -- like, perhaps, the Broncos' coaching staff putting together a plan that doesn't take advantage of Tebow, or the fact that the offense around him isn't particularly great.

Nor does he take a long view, reflecting that this was only Tebow's second start of his second season -- against one of the best defenses in football, no less. That perhaps Tebow deserves a few more starts before he is thrown under the bus.

Under Kiszla's logic, Troy Aikman -- who lost his first 11 starts, with 52% completions and a 2-to-1 INT-to-TD ratio -- should never have made it halfway through that.

Tim Tebow isn't owed fealty. He isn't owed a free pass. No one will be tougher on Tebow's performance today -- not his worst media critic, not the folks on Twitter, not John Fox -- than Tebow himself.

What he is owed is another half-season to develop, to get better -- hey, maybe even finally get some play-calling that fits his style -- before he is judged the worst QB in football or given up on.

The Broncos have every right to make that evaluation after the season -- if Tebow isn't any good, they'll even be in position to draft his replacement, right there near the top of the 1st round.

But I think the chances are far better than not that Tebow will get better, that this will be looked at as the nadir of the season, perhaps of his career.

Let's have the hysterics (no, I didn't say "heretics") keep some perspective: This Broncos team isn't very good, and that doesn't have a lot to do with Tebow, and this Lions team is very good.

It was a terrible game, on all fronts. Let's see how Tebow responds next week before shivving him an hour after this week's game.

-- D.S.

Tim Tebow vs. the Lions

From Tebow's Twitter feed this morning: 1 Samuel 12:24

"But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

Keep an eye out for the Tebowing meme today. Oh, and Ndamukong Suh vs. Tebow -- that's going to be titanic.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tim Tebow is Down with Tebowing

From Tebow, via Twitter: #Tebowing - to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different. Love it!”

More from Tebow, via the Denver Post's Lindsey Jones:

It's not my job to see peoples' reasons behind it, but I know (of a kid) with cancer that tweeted me, 'Tebowing while I'm chemoing' — how cool is that? That's worth it right now. If that gives him any encouragement or puts a smile on his face, or gives him encouragement to pray, that's completely awesome.
There is a "just when you thought you'd seen it all..." aspect to this, but -- again -- as we have seen time and time again, when it comes to Tebow, there is no such thing as a small thing.

By the way, when Albert Pujols took a knee in prayer immediately following the Cardinals' World Series Game 7 victory, the instant Twitter reaction was "Pujols Tebowed!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tim Tebow x Taiwanese Animation

You know you've made it when you get the Taiwanese animation treatment...

New Trend: "Tebowing"

Remember the "planking" fad from the summer -- people taking pictures of themselves laying flat, like a plank?

Inspired by the ending to Sunday's game, there is now "Tebowing," pictures of people dropping to a knee -- just like Tebow at the end of Sunday's game. Here's the Tumblr.

Expect it to become a "thing," complete with screechy backlash.

Don't Let Tebow Be Tebow?

The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla is concerned that Tebow's rough-n-tumble playing style will get him hurt over the course of an NFL season -- or even this weekend against the Lions' brutal D-line.

I think you've got to let Tebow be Tebow. That means creating an offensive playbook that plays to Tebow's strengths and skills -- and taking advantage of Tebow's size and toughness.

Kiszla cites the Kentucky concussion as proof that Tebow's style gets him hurt. This is wrong on two levels:

(1) He was in the pocket when he got pressured by UK -- pressure could/would/does happen to any QB, from one with mobility like Tebow to Vick to Rodgers to Brady. (It's a bit like saying "Oh! Don't let Brady play from the pocket! He might get tackled by a lineman and tear his ACL!")

(2) The concussion wasn't the result of a hit from a defensive player, who -- contrary to conventional wisdom -- don't actively seek out to headhunt QBs. It was a freak play where Tebow hit his own teammate's knee after being initially pressured by UK.

The concussion issue is very real (just go back to Teblog posts from late-September 2009). But the circumstances of Tebow's concussion make for a flimsy argument against his playing style.

-- Dan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another Great Take on Tebow

Echoing the persistent refrain here that NFL coaching orthodoxy -- not Tim Tebow's skills -- is the bigger problem right now for Tebow's future, here is Deadspin's Nate Jackson:
I am hoping and waiting for a brave coach to put in some plays called "Get Open" and "Throw to Whomever the F#$% You Want." Those plays will work. I'm sure of it. When things are right, there's a telekinesis on the football field that supersedes everything. I've felt it. And I've felt the triumph of flawless execution. I'll take the magic over the execution any day. The magic is Tim Tebow's milieu. The flawless execution is not.
If you found yourself watching last night's MNF debacle, muttering: "And the football 'experts' rip Tebow?" this is your column.

Tebow x Religion: Here's a Good Take

I read almost everything written about Tim Tebow. I pay particular attention to the stuff that directly talks about Tebow and religion. I don't know why I punish myself, because most -- almost all -- of this writing is painfully bad, a combination of stridency and self-assurance and sequestration that almost always loses sight of the essential nuance of the topic.

Grantland's Brian Phillips has one of the more thoughtful, nuanced and interesting takes on the intersection of Tebow and religion and how religion sits at the intersection of much of the Tebow debate (if buried underneath the strictly football discussion). I don't want to excerpt it here. I just want to point you to it with my strongest recommendation you read it.

Hopefully, I can circle back later this week and we can talk more about it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Morning-After Tebow: So Many Links

So many day-after links about Tebow. I'll try to point you to a few I liked:

*One of my favorite writers, SmartFootball's Chris Brown, wrote about the 2-point conversion play for Grantland.

*Brown's Grantland colleague, Bill Barnwell, was less generous. I thought there was perhaps a bit too much straw-man in this argument, but it's a fair one about where credit goes.

*Woody on Tebow: "What you saw Sunday is what you get with Tebow."

*Kiszla on Tebow: "
From happy feet in the pocket to throws so errant you worried that a spectator in the stands might get hurt, everything that could ultimately cause Tebow to fail at the pro level was on display until he had no choice except to be great."

*SI's Don Banks: "
Are the Broncos really any closer to knowing if Tebow is their long-term answer at quarterback based on Sunday's rollercoaster ride against the still-winless Dolphins? I don't think so... But Denver also saw just enough of the part of Tebow's game that can be difference making."

Will add more later. Email timteblog-at-gmail if you see any other really good ones.

-- Dan

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tebow Leads Broncos to OT W in Miami

*My favorite part -- and I think the most important and telling part: Tebow's reaction immediately after the game.

While his teammates jumped around -- certainly deservedly -- Tebow was restrained. He bent to his knee for a moment, then stood up and calmly walked around hugging teammates.

No demonstrative fist-pumping. No rah-rah cheering -- and he certainly had earned it by the time the game was over.

But you got the sense that Tebow was entirely satisfied with the game's result -- undoubtedly, he expected to win -- but knows full well that he didn't play great. Well enough, but not great.

And he expects more of himself than that. That's part of who Tebow is and why the reaction was so impressive.

He acted like he'd been there before. All the haters and skeptics and doubters and mockers could take a lesson.

More instant reactions:

*What a final few minutes. Wow.

*Tebow was getting killed by fans and media on Twitter for the first 55 minutes of this game, some fairly and some unfairly. But he was getting crushed.

*I think it's fair to say that Tebow led the team to a win despite John Fox's play-calling on offense.

*Yeah, this is going to be just a little bit of a big deal tomorrow -- and all week. It's Tebow, after all.

*Wow, was that exciting.

-- Dan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today's Tebow Must-Read

We mentioned that Tim Tebow was on the cover of the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine. Here's the cover story, which captures almost all of the scope of the Tebow situation right now. Well done by reporter Tim Keown. Really good read for today (and to get you ready for Sunday).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ESPN Mag Puts Tebow on Cover

That's more like it: ESPN The Magazine put Tim Tebow on its cover this week. Not just smart, but entirely relevant.

Tim Tebow in This Week's SI

I thought that between the Broncos' bye week, the lack of a timely way to cover the World Series participants and the overall interest in Tim Tebow, Sports Illustrated would put Tebow on their cover this week. You'll have to settle for a Phil Taylor essay in the magazine. Money quote:
You don't have to be a Broncos fan to hope that he makes his skeptics look foolish, if only to remind them that allowing for the possibility of magic is the logical thing to do.
Big week coming up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Let's Stop Arguing About Tim Tebow

A nice supplement to the post earlier this week that most Tim Tebow fans simply wanted Tebow to get a chance to play (even if he is hand-cuffed by John Fox's clod-hopping tactical judgment) is this post by SBNation's Spencer Hall about the proliferation this week* of stupid debates about Tebow coming from multiple sides. I'm inclined to promote this kind of analysis because since the beginning, this blog was about finding nuance in a topic that generates so much stridency.

(* - This week? It's been going on since before Tebow turned pro, but certainly has been humming along ever since January 2010.)

Tim Tebow in... "Die Hard 5" (Wait: What?)

This idea floated by the head of Fox movies that Tim Tebow could play a role in the next "Die Hard" is absurd... yet entirely in line with everything we know about the Tebow phenomenon.

(I actually think Tebow has a natural sense of comedic timing, and even though he has the "action-hero" build and temperament, I can't see him even wanting the role.)

That said: Kudos to Fox's Tom Rothman for floating it out there. He knows that even just mentioning Tebow puts this story -- and his movie -- at the top of every talk-radio, TV talking-head and blogger discussion list.

Just one more addition to the Tebow pop-culture canon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's About (Tebow) Time

If I could summarize the position of many -- starting last season but certainly culminating on Sunday and today, when Tim Tebow is expected to be named the Broncos starter a week from Sunday in Miami -- it is simply this:

Give Tebow a chance.

We saw what happened at the end of last season: Capable (even winning) play from a QB that way too many people said had no business being on the field as a rookie. (And, as a bonus, eye-popping fantasy football numbers.) Give Tebow a chance.

We saw what happened on Sunday: Kyle Orton was ineffective. The team was behind. John Fox begrudgingly inserted Tebow. Presto: A boost of crowd enthusiasm. A boost of player enthusiasm. "Vitamin T." Then the scores. Then the oh-no-WAY last-gasp sequence, where Tebow pulled off a play that maybe 3-5 other QBs in the league could -- spinning out of the defense's way for seemingly endless extra time, then a pass delivered into an open window the size of a football helmet. (BTW: Is there any doubt that on that missed 2-point conversion, Tebow could have run it in himself, rather than put him in a position to throw to Lloyd? Then all the Broncos would have needed was a game-ending field goal.) Give Tebow a chance.

There are plenty of reasons the Broncos should be starting Tim Tebow:

*In an otherwise lost season, fans will be engaged as enthusiastically as if the Broncos were a playoff contender. We saw that Sunday.

*The media -- nationally -- will give close attention to a team that is otherwise among the league's bottom-feeders. We saw that Sunday and Monday -- and every day for the next two weeks, culminating in an insane scene in Miami (for "Gator Day").

*In a point we've made here regularly: Even if John Fox HATED Tim Tebow (and he seemingly does), playing him has no downside: If the team wins, Fox gets credit; if Tebow plays terribly and the team loses out, Fox can say he gave Tebow a chance, then go draft Andrew Luck or Landry Jones or Matt Barkley.

But for all the power of Tebow as a passion point for fans or a draw for the national media or fun with fantasy football or even a backdoor way to find a different QB, the biggest reason to give Tebow a chance is this:

He can play. He makes the team better. He gives the team a different kind of chance to win. He will only get better with experience. He is a gamer.

There's such a "straw-man argument" out there in the media that Tebow fans insist Tebow will be an NFL superstar. I follow Tebow and the Tebow phenomenon as closely as anyone, and I just don't see that.

What I do see is Tebow fans -- and, now, national media coming around -- simply asking for the Broncos to give Tebow a chance.

(And by "a chance," I mean a real chance: Starting every offensive snap for the next 11 games. Even then, I'd say that he would have only begun to climb the learning curve and if he shows any progress at all, he will have earned the right to start a full season next year.)

He may flop. He may excel. He may exceed expectations. He may increase expectations, only to fall short of them. He may -- he will -- probably land somewhere in the middle, something even Tebow himself would agree with: He will make some great plays; he will show room for improvement. He will never be satisfied, even when he makes plays and wins games.

But all Tebow wants is a chance. All the fans want his for him to get that chance.

He's going to get it, and -- like the end of last season -- it's going to be fascinating and thrilling and even sometimes maddening (particularly if the coaches keep insisting on cramming Tebow into their pre-conceived notions of NFL offensive orthodoxy, rather than tweaking things to play to his unique skills).

But Tebow is going to get the chance to play. That's all he, we, you or anyone can ask for.

-- Dan

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Broncos Finally Play Tim Tebow

"What mattered is the Broncos finally gave Tebow a chance. That’s all the fans in Denver wanted. Now that Denver coach John Fox has gone to Tebow, there is no chance that the Broncos can or will go back." -- Bill Williamson, ESPN.com

Much more coming.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tebow vs. Packers: One Measly Play

One play. One measly play. After all that talk about Fox being ready to deploy Tebow, the coach of the Broncos used Tebow once, early in the game. Even when the game was laughably out of reach, Fox refused to play Tebow. Hell, the Packers played backup QB Matt Flynn, and if you didn't know better, you'd think they were rubbing it in.

The only solace is that you look across the field at Aaron Rodgers -- a QB who is/was at the top of his game (or any QB's game, frankly) -- and you realize that he sat (and sat... and sat...) for years before he got his shot. I'm not arguing that Tebow is going to have as good of a career as Rodgers. What I'm arguing is that he deserves a shot, just like Rodgers got one.

It's so obvious he won't get that shot with John Fox in Denver. It's equally obvious that the only reason they won't trade him or release him is that they are deathly afraid that if/when Tebow does get that shot -- with someone else -- he makes the most of it.

Tim Tebow To Play in NFL Week 4?

Via Denver Post's Mike Klis, apparently so.