Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why I'm glad Tim Tebow is no longer a Bronco.

I am a Christian. I am a huge Denver Broncos fan. I couldn't be happier that Tim Tebow is no longer a Bronco.

I think this makes me weird. If you go by trends, I am supposed to be angry that John Elway got rid of Tim Tebow. I'm supposed to be in a fit of rage and ready to be grabbing either a torch or a pitchfork and storming Bronco headquarters to demand someone pay for this outrage. I'm probably not supposed to have a dumb grin on my face that I can't seem to wipe off that has been there all week.

Here's the thing, I respect Tim Tebow as a person. I'd probably vote for him for president should he run once he turns 45 years old. I think he's the kind of person that makes good decisions in life and has a solid head on his shoulders. He's a good kid, he also is a mediocre quarterback. As easy as it was to cheer for Tim, I have had trepidation about him being the long term answer for the Broncos. The reason for this is because I think last year was a fluke. A wonderfully fun and exciting fluke, but a fluke nonetheless. 

The thing about flukes is that they tend to stop happening. Tebow was going to enter camp as the number one quarterback on the roster. The reason for this are three-fold: 1. There were no other viable options. 2. There were no other viable options. 3. There were no other viable options. As soon as Peyton Manning became available, suddenly all three reasons were no longer valid AND John Elway had a 4 time MVP Golden Ticket out of Tebowville. The local fan base has grown an unhealthy obsession with Tim. As wonderful as Tebow has been, the irrational fervor surrounding him has become equally unbearable. A large contingent of people who didn't care about football or the Broncos are now very angry that Tebow is no longer a Bronco. 

There is an element of faith I like about Timmy, but there is a transitive element of faith that I despise about his diehard fans. His belief in God is admirable and honest, however the transitive property is that because he has faith in something, we should have faith in him as a football player. Look, I have faith in God, that doesn't make me able to throw a timing route to a slot receiver running a seam pattern. Tim's believe in God does not help him play quarterback in the NFL. The fact that so many Christians seem to believe in him as a spiritual force for good on the football field is baffling to me. He's a Christian that also happens to play football. He works hard to do his best, and he's a gritty player, but his release on his throws is humorous. I can't decide if it's the fact that it takes so long or looks so terrible that bothers me most about the way he throws. What I do know is that I did not want to pin any hopes for the Broncos on him.

People unfamiliar with football are confusing hype with talent. Just because Tebow is the most talked about athlete in the NFL last year doesn't mean he was anywhere close to the best. If you don't believe me, please note that he just was traded away to the Jets for a measly 4th round draft pick...For those unfamiliar with football, a Fourth round pick has roughly the same value to an NFL team as that quarter you found on the floor of your local grocery store checkout stand. It's worth bothering to bend over to pick up, but it's not going to change your life. 

You don't believe me when I say that Tebow's football ability is not greatly respected by football people? You need to understand that the Jets picked him up to be the backup to Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is a quarterback consistently rated in the bottom third of NFL quarterbacks, and yet most reasonable football people believe that Tebow has virtually no shot an unseating him. Football wise, Tebow's value has been wildly overstated by his fans. He's a backup quarterback with unique skills. He has everything you'd want in a quarterback with the notable and critical exception of being incapable of throwing the ball well. Some believe this is something he can learn with practice and training, I do not share this belief.

While Tebow's value as a quarterback is average at best, his value as a sideshow attraction is through the roof. Tebow has a unique ability to take people with little interest in football and make them interested in football. He galvanizes people who never before were interested, and quickly they become Tebow fans. The problem is that these people who know nothing about football suddenly are passionate about Tebow, but still remain people that know virtually nothing about football. These well meaning folks are under the mistaken impression that his magnetic personality equates to football prowess. It doesn't. I've spoken with these misguided fans all week. They all hold a belief that Tebow is going to morph into one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL and make Denver pay for getting rid of him. They have a healthy amount of anger at the Broncos for not holding on to Tebow. They are the reason that I'm glad he's been traded. I'm tired of the side show. 

Here is why I'm ecstatic about the developments of the past 2 weeks. I believe Peyton Manning is ten times the quarterback Tim Tebow will ever be. I'm hopeful he still has something left in the tank, and I am hopeful he can make the Broncos an NFL contender. There is an excellent chance I am wrong, but here is why I'm still on board with the Manning decision despite it's risks. I believe that Tim Tebow would have stopped getting the ridiculous breaks he was getting last season. Football statisticians much smarter than I have estimated that the Broncos overachieved by 3 to 4 games last season. Even with that large of a benefit of luck, they still managed to only get to 8-8 and barely made the playoffs on the 3rd or 4th tiebreaker. I believe that had the Broncos gone into next season with Tebow at Quarterback that they would have experienced a severe regression to the mean. All the breaks went Tebow's way last year, and that is unsustainable. He would start to have the breaks go against him, and the Broncos would have finished with a poor record.

Naturally, all of this is conjecture. I can't prove what would have happened, but I can look to see what will happen. I feel like Manning is a good risk, even if it turns out that he's washed up. At least gives the Broncos a legit shot to be something special. I can't imagine that the Broncos under Tebow would ever be anything better than they were last season.

I also feel like there is a very good chance that Tebow never again starts in the NFL. I don't understand why the Jets would want him, but from all accounts it sounds like he is going to be used as a short-yardage gimmick, playing three or four plays a game. Not exactly a recipe for long-term success in the NFL. My guess? He washes out of the NFL within 3 years with nowhere near the level of success he had last year. I'm hoping he improves and has a good career, because he's a fun guy to watch and cheer for. I just don't have a lot of faith in his football ability.

As for why I'm glad he's no longer a Bronco? It's a selfish reason. Sure, he was fun to watch for the final five minutes of a game, but the first 55 minutes were often a mixture of painful and humorous. He'd look absolutely hopeless for giant stretches of games, and that was depressing and boring to watch. I like the idea that we might have a quarterback who can sling it again. The vertical passing game seems so much more likely, and the level of excitement for the first three quarters is due to rise. I'm all in with Manning, and now I can watch the final five minutes of any Tebow game without having to endure being emotionally invested in the first 55 minutes of pain. It's win-win.

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