The Tim Tebow as a Pro QB Debate… Winning May Not Be Everything, But it is Something

March 31, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

If sporting events were played on paper, rather than on the field, then we would be getting ready for a Final Four that, besides Duke, also featured Kentucky, Syracuse, and Kansas. Instead we are all getting ready to watch one featuring Butler, Michigan State, and West Virginia. Projection is an inexact science, and as Babe Ruthless points out in his argument, analysts get it wrong just as often as (if not more than) they get it right. Likewise, the challenge of projecting an unproven athlete’s success is just as much guesswork as it is science.

That is why debates such as these are so much fun. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to prediction and projection, there is only speculation. Only Tim Tebow can ultimately decide if he will be a successful NFL quarterback. All the breakdowns and analysis in the world will not change that inevitable outcome. Still, it does not stop us from trying our hardest at predicting the future!

With that in mind, Loyal Homer is absolutely correct. College success is not a predictor for NFL success. However, it should also be noted that having an unconventional throwing motion is also not a predictor for failure. Just because a quarterback entering the NFL is not considered a pure “passer” does not mean that he will fail.

Bernie Kosar, one of the most successful quarterbacks of the 1980s had a side-arm delivery when he threw the ball. If I were coaching Pop Warner and I saw a kid trying to mimic Kosar’s motion, I would a) cringe, and b) work with him in trying to correct it. However, Kosar made it work.

Another more recent example of a quarterback who has found success in the NFL without relying on a strong passing game is Ben Roethlisberger.

When the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2005 it was not on the arm of Roethlisberger. During the season, he threw the ball only 268 times that season. By comparison, there were 25 other quarterbacks in the NFL that season with more than 300 passing attempts, led by Brett Favre who had more than 600. Of those completions, Roethlisberger accounted for only 2,385 passing yards (behind 20 other quarterbacks) and 17 touchdowns (behind 13 other quarterbacks).

Even though Roethlisberger was not called upon to be a “passer” in 2005, he helped lead his team to the Super Bowl and is now considered one of the most successful quarterbacks in the game today.

I am not trying to draw comparisons between Roethlisberger and Tebow (I actually think that is the LAST person Tebow would want to be compared with right now). I am simply bringing up the point that a quarterback can be successful without having to rely on a fundamentally “sound” passing game.

It is for that reason that I am awarding the debate to Babe Ruthless.

As Babe Ruthless points out, Tebow possesses other intangible qualities that CAN translate from college into professional success. Namely, he is a WINNER and a proven LEADER (qualities that many people in the NFL severely lack).

You can coach a player on how to change his throwing mechanics. You can help him to study film and learn how to read defenses better. You can teach him how to change his grip on the ball to allow for a cleaner release. But you CANNOT teach him how to be a winner or a leader.

Is Tebow a good fit for EVERY team in the NFL? No, but what quarterback is? That does not automatically mean he is a BAD fit for every team. It may take a few years before he is ready to actually run an NFL offense while he perfects his new and improved throwing style, and that is okay. Aaron Rodgers did not start right out of the gate and he has been one of the best quarterbacks of the past two seasons. However, when the time finally does come and Tebow walks out onto the field one Sunday afternoon, the coach can be confident in the fact that his quarterback knows how to win.

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The Tim Tebow as a Pro QB Debate

March 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Despite Thom Brennaman’s recommendations, I have not yet had the opportunity to improve my life with twenty minutes – or even just five minutes – in Tim Tebow’s presence. What I have had the opportunity to do is to watch Tebow go on to complete one of the greatest careers in the history of college football. He has won a Heisman Trophy, has been named the AP Player of the Year, and has broken several college football records, all capped off with two BCS National Championships.

In addition to his remarkable performance on the field, Tebow is generally regarded as a person of high character. But even with his on-field dominance and all around good-guy persona, there has not been a more polarizing character coming out of the college football ranks for a very long time.

There is just no such thing as a middle-of-the-road opinion on Tim Tebow. Whether fan, analyst, scout, or player, EVERYONE has an opinion on Tebow – and they are almost ALL extreme.

Even now, as we get ready for the NFL Draft (which is only one month away) the Tim Tebow debate continues to rage on, and it has NFL analysts and scouts chiming-in with their assessment of Tebow.

Following a highly-publicized Senior Bowl performance where Tebow was clearly uncomfortable while running a “pro-style” offense, his draft projection came into question. Many scouts and analysts in the anti-Tebow camp have discussed the problems in Tebow’s throwing mechanics, citing that as a major obstacle that will prevent him from becoming a successful NFL quarterback. They have been very vocal about criticizing his play, arguing that his success in the college game will not translate into NFL success. Adding to that criticism are the recent comments from a former Florida Gators teammate of Tebow’s, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who implied that Tebow was not a “real” quarterback.

For his part, Tebow has put forth a great amount of effort in changing his throwing motion, but many question whether or not it will be enough.

On the flip side of this issue are many other well-respected voices in the NFL who believe that Tebow has proven himself a winner. They whole-heartedly believe Tebow will be a success in the NFL ranks. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy even went so far as to use the word “great” in his assessment of how Tebow will perform as a pro.

Now it is time for The Sports Debates to weigh-in on the Tebow debate: Will Tim Tebow be successful as a quarterback in the NFL?

Babe Ruthless will argue on Tebow’s behalf by trying to prove that Tebow will make the transition into the NFL and become a successful quarterback. Loyal Homer will argue to the contrary, providing evidence that Tebow will not find success among the professional ranks.

Finally, before we begin, let us all bow our heads and pray

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The Tim Tebow as a Pro QB Debate… Tebow’s Time To Shine

March 30, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Let’s role play for a minute (don’t worry, it’s nothing kinky). I will take the role of an NFL scout, and you will act as an NFL general manager. As the draft approaches our team has a gaping hole at the quarterback position and I come to you with this news –“We have found a hidden gem in this year’s draft.”

This player is incredible. He has the physical tools of a young Donavan McNabb, the leadership of Drew Brees, and media presence of Peyton Manning. He has proven he can handle the pressure of big game situations. He has national awards and multiple national championships to boot. Oh, and here is the kicker, he is actually underrated. He might even be around until the third or fourth round.

Does that scenario sound too good to be true? Well it’s not. Tim Tebow matches the criteria above, and yet we are still debating his ability to be a pro quarterback in the NFL.

Tim Tebow is the complete package. He possesses a wealth of talent and the three “I”s – intensity, integrity, and intelligence – as well. His style of play is physical, intense, and unpredictable. Although he is not the prototypical speedy scrambling quarterback (like Michael Vick or Vince Young), he is still a threat to tuck the ball and fight for yardage on the ground, especially in the red zone. Even his critics, including Mel Kiper, Jr., admit he is great at moving with the ball in his hands. The fact that Tebow is a one-man-wildcat offense should be an offensive coordinator’s dream because his skills open up the field and make it difficult for opposing defenses to prepare.

Still many of his detractors sell him short and view him as a tight end or fullback rather than a quarterback. I will admit that he could play those positions, but he will ultimately be more valuable bringing his unique style of play to the quarterback position. Some analysts have even made comparisons between Tebow and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ goal line legend, Mike Alstott. That is not a negative, either. Obviously, I think he is capable of much more, but at the very least I will agree that he would be formidable on the ground. His intense, physical style of play can also get him hurt. But the best quarterbacks mix it up with the defense every now and then for the benefit of the team (see Peyton Manning throwing blocks on running plays).

Some of the best attributes Tim Tebow brings to the table are his intangibles. A front office that drafts Tebow can breath easy knowing they are not going to wake up to ESPN reporting that he shot himself in the leg at a strip club or started a vicious cat fighting ring in his back yard (I figured dog fighting was overdone, and Tebow strikes me more as a cat man anyway.) Don’t get me wrong, Tebow will make headlines for his off-the-field actions, but those headlines are more likely to be about his faith or community involvement. Recently, he made headlines for asking for a moment of prayer before taking the Wonderlic Exam at the NFL combine. While this brought him the ire of some in the media, and at least one cat call of “shut the [fudge] up!” from another would-be draftee, it’s telling of his character. If the biggest distractions surrounding your quarterback – who is often the face of a franchise – are his requests for prayer and what Bible verses he has on his eye black, it is a safe assumption that the coach and owner are not going to lose a whole lot of sleep worrying about their quarterback’s personal life (the Steelers’ front office should get hazard pay for their loss of sleep due to the shenanigans of Ben Roethlisberger and his apparent life coach, Charlie Sheen.).

Tebow’s leadership is also a major attribute. He has been a vocal leader on championship teams since his high school days. Carolina Panthers’ head coach John Fox said of Tebow’s leadership in high school and college, “You look at those types of things and he’s shown the ability to lead men, albeit young men, but they’re still men. In fact, that might be harder.” His ability to lead can anchor any number of teams that seem to be adrift in their division without passion or vision. Teams like Carolina, Buffalo, and Cleveland could all use a strong leadership presence to breathe new life into stagnant offenses.

The man even turns negatives into positives. Take the criticism about his throwing motion for example. It is perceived to be his Achilles Heel and is touted as the biggest weakness of his game. Sure, Tebow had a throwing motion slower than a 1920s windup baseball pitcher. And yes, all that time would give blitzing defenders an eternity to see how much turf they could force feed the rookie quarterback. But he has made all that a virtual non-factor by creating a new, more compact delivery. Let that set in for a minute. The guy hears criticism about a weakness and takes proactive steps to fix it. He could have pulled a prima donna act and declared there was nothing wrong with his mechanics. But instead he responds with action. That impresses me, and it appears to be impressing NFL teams, as more seem to be taking the QB more seriously every day.

In the end, no one will know how he will turn out until he’s given a chance, but it seems increasingly clear that he will be given a chance at quarterback. When it comes to predicting NFL success analysts get it wrong just as much, if not even more, than they get it right. Six other quarterbacks were selected before Tom Brady the year he was drafted. It is always a guessing game. In the end, the only basis for evaluating how a player actually performs in real life situations is to take a look at their college days. Tebow was the best of the best at Florida. The smart money is on his unconventional success in the NFL.

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The Tim Tebow as a Pro QB Debate… Tebow’s Success Does Not Translate

March 30, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

I know everyone from sea to shining sea has at some point grown exasperated at the constant published stories regarding former Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow. By now, we have all heard every Tim Tebow feel-good story. If you pay attention to any type of sports media you have heard them all. Now imagine you live approximately 160 miles from Gainesville, Florida – like I do – and those stories are repeatedly told.

Now, I’m a fan of Tim Tebow the person. He has used his position to reach out to those who need to be reached. Surely no one can fault his effort on that end, even if you get tired of hearing about it. But today’s debate is not about the off-the-field Tim Tebow. It is about his performance on the field, and whether or not it translates to success at the next level. Tim Tebow will not be a successful pro QB.

Last week, quite a stir was created in Gainesville when current Florida wide receiver Deonte Thompson said he was looking forward to playing with a “real quarterback.” Now, I fully believe that Thompson did not mean to intentionally slight Tebow, but Urban Meyer still took offense at the quote being reported… which led to a rather humorous rant, and was followed by a private apology. Intentional or not, an interesting point was brought up by Thompson. Thompson is right, whether or not he meant to be negative about Tebow.

Success on the collegiate level does not always translate to success in the NFL. My favorite example ever to back this up might be former Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. During Ward’s senior season, he threw for over 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the Seminoles to the national championship. He won the Heisman trophy that season and is mentioned as having one of the greatest seasons ever by a single player in the history of college football. But because of his smaller stature (he was generously listed at 6-feet 2-inches, 190 pounds), he was not drafted by the NFL. Instead found some success as a point guard in the NBA, mainly with the New York Knicks. Much like Ward, Tebow is revered for his college success. But AT BEST, it is questionable how his style of play fits in the NFL.

Many of the designed plays for Tebow in Meyer’s spread offense called for him to, quite simply, take the snap out of the shotgun and just run over someone. That is not happening in the NFL. In college he very rarely took snaps under center, and that is something he has to work at this offseason. He actually struggled with it during Senior Bowl practice earlier this year.

It iha also been well-publicized that Tebow has been working to change his throwing motion. He unveiled it at Florida’s pro-day a couple of weeks ago. It is all well and good to showcase that in a “pro-day” event that is set up for the player to succeed. But this new throwing motion is untested in games or against professional athletes.

Besides, both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr. say Tebow will not be a good quarterback. All three of us can’t be wrong, can we?

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