Saturday, October 12, 2013

6 comments Wrapping Up Tebow's Legacy with David Steele

We all know that mentioning Tim Tebow means pageviews will surely follow, so this is part of the reason why sportswriters insist on still talking about Tebow even when he was a third-string quarterback in the Patriots camp and now that he is out of the NFL. They mention Tebow and they get pageviews, it's a pretty simply formula. So David Steele is trying to sum up Tim Tebow's career which he explains defies logic, despite the fact the logic of Tebow's career can be seen in the fact he was a first round pick who is out of the NFL three years later. Tebow is out of the NFL for the same reason most 1st round draft picks are out of the NFL after three years. Regardless, there HAS to be more behind Tebow's career than just a quarterback who had limited success and then didn't have the talent for sustained success, right? Wrong, that seems to be it, no matter how much David Steele would like to make it different.

I'll also cover Peter King insisting that a contending team should sign Tebow while answering a question in his mailbag. These sportswriters just won't let Tebow drop.

So, Tim Tebow is out in New England and, for now, out of the NFL. 

God willing, he will be back so the media can continue to fixate on him.

A first-round pick all of three years ago … the second quarterback taken in 2010, after Sam Bradford … owner of the same number of playoff wins as Matt Ryan …

If David Steele is trying to show how statistics and numbers can be used to reach absurd conclusions that certainly don't mean anything over the long run, then he's done a great job here. It's a well-done parody. Tim Tebow has more playoff wins than Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, and Cam Newton combined! He's a better quarterback than all of them combined!

winner of a postseason game more recently than Peyton Manning and just as recently as Drew Brees. 

And he's won the Heisman Trophy more recently than Charles Woodson and Carson Palmer, so Tebow is clearly a better player than both.

But also … a former starter unable to take playing time away from Mark Sanchez with the Jets … unable to move past Ryan Mallett for a backup job in New England … unable to get on the field for the “dress rehearsal” exhibition game by the team that just signed him … and now, released twice in four months. 

Oh, and don't forget the guy who took a chance on drafting him in Denver, Josh McDaniels is on the coaching staff of the Patriots team that didn't want to give him a shot to play for them over the full season. There is always the caveat that Tim Tebow is a good guy, but there are quite a few good guys on the waiver wire or out of the NFL.

The legacy, in a nutshell, is of a player who did great things for a short time, did nothing for a short time,

No, he did great things in the NFL for a short time and did nothing for an even longer time. He played well (in that his team won) for 75% of a season, but spent the rest of his time in the NFL fighting for a job or being used sparingly.

got too much credit for the former and too much abuse for the latter. And, of course, too much attention for all of it. 

The irony of David Steele saying Tim Tebow got too much attention while writing a column wrapping up Tebow's legacy is delicious. Not many quarterbacks who were in the NFL for three years and then got cut after failing to make the roster of their third team get a eulogy or even have a legacy. Tebow's legacy is that legacy given by the media who constantly paid too much attention to him.

Yet even when all the hype is set aside—when all the action, reaction and overreaction to everything Tebow is taken out of the equation, when the nation is briefly taken off of Tebow Time—his career defies logic and rational explanation. 

Stating that Tebow's career defies logic and rational explanation isn't setting aside the hype, it is feeding into the hype. His career doesn't defy logic and rational explanation as long as you understand two things:

1. A series of fortunate events led to the Broncos making the playoffs in 2011, including a good defense and a good head coach.

2. Tim Tebow is not an NFL-caliber quarterback.

So knowing these two things, it's easy to explain Tebow's career. The Broncos made the playoffs as an 8-8 team, got a home playoff game against a 12-4 team because they won their division and then took advantage of Ryan Clark's absence during the playoff game to win it. I'm not taking anything away from them and during the 2011 season (or Tebowmania as it is called) Tebow played well enough to help the Broncos win games. The Broncos didn't have a murderer's row of a schedule and Tebow managed to win games in exciting fashion which only added to his legend. He had a streak of good luck and good skill. It wasn't sustainable.

How can a player that has seemed so bad at his position for so long, pull off what he did in Denver for 12 weeks in 2011? 

They played teams with a combined record of 77-83 in the regular season, never beating a team with a winning record under Tebow. The first team they beat with a winning record was the 12-4 Steelers in the playoffs. Again, good coaching, some good luck, Tebow playing as well he can, and an easier schedule meant the Broncos had success. It doesn't defy logic.

And how can a player capable of pulling off what he pulled off in Denver, play his position so badly all those other times? 

The same way a Hall of Fame quarterback can end up looking badly at times.

This became a theme in the uplift of the Tebow fable. His exploits as a college quarterback, outstanding as they were, were elevated as if, say, Charlie Ward had never existed. Also, the depth of his outspoken faith and the power of his influence on those within his sphere were extolled as if Reggie White had never existed. 

Part of the reason this occurred is because the media just would not stop writing and talking about Tebow. Again, by writing about Tebow's legacy David Steele is inadvertently (or intentionally?) making Tebow's legacy greater than it truly was.

The backlash since then has become equally outlandish, as those beaten down by the outsized worship of Tebow branded him as not just an overmatched NFL quarterback but as the worst anyone had ever laid eyes upon, who literally didn’t belong in the league. 

The backlash is a direct response to his supporters insistence that Tebow just isn't getting the chances he needs to perform well in the NFL. If only Tebow were given a shot, he could help the Patriots win games. If only the Jaguars would sign him, he could win games for them. I think it is overstating the case to claim those who "beat down" Tebow consider him to be the worst quarterback anyone has ever laid eyes on. It is true many felt he didn't belong in the NFL, but I don't think pointing out Tebow's flaws and questioning his supporters insistence he could be a starting quarterback in the NFL is calling him the worst quarterback anyone has ever laid eyes on.

Unless another miracle (pun intended) happens and he finds another NFL home, Tebow proves the doubters’ point.

Except that it actually doesn’t. 

It's not about being right or wrong or the doubters feeling good they were correct. But, if the doubters said Tebow isn't an NFL-caliber starting quarterback and 32 NFL teams agree then I would say the doubters are correct, because the only people required to agree with the doubters seem to do so.

Because even with the ugly throwing motion, scattershot accuracy and unpredictable pocket awareness, Tebow can claim a division title and a playoff victory,

Rex Grossman can claim he led his team to the Super Bowl. This doesn't mean he deserves to be the starting quarterback for the Redskins nor does it mean he is entitled to be employed by an NFL team. The fact Tebow led the Broncos to a home playoff victory doesn't mean he is capable of playing quarterback at the NFL level. Unfortunately, that was a short-term victory and over the long-term there are three NFL teams that have given him a chance and has decided he wasn't the starting quarterback for them. NFL teams tend to not get rid of quarterbacks they believe they can help them win games, which is a fact I wish David Steele would keep in mind while writing about Tebow's legacy.

using the exact same criteria applied to every quarterback from Sammy Baugh to Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana to Tom Brady. 

Right, but every quarterback who wins a playoff game isn't necessarily Sammy Baugh or Joe Montana.

He was the quarterback of record when the Broncos went 7-4, took the AFC West and beat the Steelers in overtime. That happened to also be the only team in his four years since leaving college to design an offense to fit his strengths and minimize his weaknesses, which is all a coach is required to do and all a quarterback could ever ask for. 

Not to be snide, but it's really hard to hide the weaknesses of a quarterback who isn't very good at throwing the football. Tebow isn't overly-athletic like Robert Griffin and he doesn't throw the ball very well. At a certain point when the offense becomes more about masking a quarterback's weaknesses rather than taking advantage of his strengths, it becomes obvious he isn't an NFL-caliber starting quarterback.

If Tebow never plays again, it’s fair to ask why no other team ever thought enough to try that again.

Again, there are other quarterbacks available who don't need their weaknesses minimized as much as Tebow does, so teams choose to go with the quarterback that allows the offense to play at its full strength rather than having to worry about masking weaknesses.

It clearly wasn’t an idea that interested either the Jets, who stink at evaluating quarterbacks, or the Patriots, who don’t. 

Rotating quarterbacks is a strategy used in college football when a team doesn't have a starter who can run the entire offense or performs inconsistently. Maybe in a few years rotating quarterbacks will catch on in the NFL, I'm not entirely sure it will happen, but NFL teams prefer to have one quarterback to run the entire offense at this point. Maybe the Jets should have played Tebow more last year, but the Patriots had no reason for him to be on the field as a quarterback unless Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett got injured.

Then again, it would have been just as fair to ask this of any team thinking of taking that on: Are you ready to take on the rest of the Tebow package? The drama, the idolatry, the extremes, the emotions that rule every word spoken and action taken? 

That's part of it as well. Professional sports teams will put up with drama and attention surrounding the team when the player bringing this attention can perform on the field. For Tebow, he's more of a distraction than anything, especially considering he would have been the Patriots 2nd or 3rd string quarterback.

With Tebow, there is always both too much and too little happening, everywhere he goes.

Or, there was. Past tense.

For now. 

And that is Tebow's true legacy in the NFL. Sportswriters will do anything they can to talk about Tebow in a column and comment on the attention Tebow receives by giving Tebow attention.

Peter King also broached the subject of Tim Tebow in a recent mailbag and very briefly discussed why he thinks an NFL team, specifically a contender, should sign Tebow. 

JUSTIFYING TEBOW. You mentioned in your column, “Tebow can have a role as a changeup quarterback on a winning team.” Why would any winning team want to take a winning quarterback off the field and put someone like Tebow in? He’s not an everyday quarterback; he’s a circus, period.  Would you take out Tom Brady for a series for Tebow? Would you take out Drew Brees for a series for Tebow? Would you take out Matt Ryan for a series for Tebow? Would you take out Aaron Rogers for a series for Tebow? I think you get my point. What are your thoughts?


Since I somewhat made this point earlier, I think this is a great point. Most winning teams have a quarterback they are absolutely pleased with. I can think of exceptions, but then I also have issues with these exceptions. For example, the Vikings could say "We want Tebow in there to backup Christian Ponder and provide defenses a different look on the goal line." But are the Vikings really going to take the ball out of Adrian Peterson's hands on the goal line? Basically, any team that is a winning team or a team that is looking to make the playoffs is probably happy enough with their current quarterback that they wouldn't necessarily want to rotate quarterbacks, even for a brief period during a game.

PK: Simple. Say you have a pocket quarterback.

You have a pocket quarterback.

You decide as a coach that you want to work on the two-point conversion play, when the ball is snapped from the two-yard line.

So Peter is suggesting a winning team uses a roster spot specifically for a player who will run a two-point conversion? I know teams keep a long snapper on the roster, but keeping Tebow around just for two-point conversions, that I'm not so sure of.

You have a spread offense in the game, with four receivers. You put Tebow in the shotgun. You have a running back, and Tebow thus has six possibilities when he gets the ball at the six-yard line.

It sounds great. It also sounds like Tom Brady/Aaron Rodgers/Colin Kaepernick/Matt Schaub would do pretty well in this situation while only having five options.

He has the four receivers, the running back, and himself. This is a guy who is a 245-pound battering ram right now. If you don’t think that in short yardage or on a two-point conversion play Tebow would be a good weapon, I would respectfully disagree with you.

It's not that I don't think Tebow would be a great battering ram, it's that I am not sure a winning team would want to take their quarterback out of the game on a two-point conversion attempt. Can you imagine if the score is 31-29 (with the Patriots down two points) and Bill Belichick pulled Tom Brady out of the game to put Tebow in the game for the two-point conversion? It would be crazy and I would be willing to bet Brady wouldn't like it. The same goes for nearly every other quarterback on a winning team. Regardless of Tebow's scrambling ability I am not taking Aaron Rodgers out of the game so Tebow can attempt the two-point conversion and I don't think Mike McCarthy would do it either.

Think of a quarterback on any of last year's playoff teams. I can't truly fathom a single one of these teams taking out their quarterback to put Tebow in the game for the two-point conversion. The only quarterbacks I could even 1% imagine this would happen to are as follows:

Andy Dalton (but then BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a decent goal line back)
Matt Schaub (Arian Foster is a pretty good option in this situation too)
Christian Ponder (but he is athletic and could scramble in the end zone)
Matt Ryan (good luck getting him to agree to this)

These are winning teams who were in the playoffs. If anything, Tebow would be better suited to help a team on two-point conversions that isn't a winning team, so the starting quarterback doesn't get upset at being pulled from the game. Can I see Blaine Gabbert being pulled for Tebow on a two-point conversion? Maybe, but I can't see Matt Schaub being pulled. So while I think Peter could have a point, his insistence on Tebow being the official two-point conversion mascot on a winning team isn't realistic. It would have to be a team that doesn't have a strong quarterback where Tebow would need to play this role.

That’s where I think Tebow would help a winning team win more.

Just as long as the starting quarterback is fine with being good enough to play the rest of the game and then sit once Tebow is in for the two-point conversion. Good luck finding a quarterback on a winning team willing to do this.


Anonymous said...

We used to have a name for QBs drafted in the first round who were traded for peanuts three years later...they were called busts. In the grand scheme of things, that other guy didn't last any longer in the NFL than JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, he's Tebow, not a bust! His failure to be an NFL QB doesn't make him a bust, he just wasn't given enough opportunities by the three teams he played for.

Ericb said...

Tebow's apparent refusal to play any position other than quarterback seems to belie his reputation as a humble guy who just want to help his team win.

Bengoodfella said...

I'm not one to judge other people, but it seems like Tebow shows a lot of pride in being determined to only play the QB position. It's prideful and selfish of him to do that from a certain point of view.

Sometimes stick-to-itness and excessive pride are only differentiated by success. If Tebow succeeds in becoming an NFL QB then he stuck to his dream and worked hard to achieve it, but if he ends up not being an NFL QB then his stubbornness could have hurt his career.

Ericb said...

Tebow is the Bizzaro Ryan Leaf.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, that's a funny way to look at it.