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Jon Gruden on Tim Tebow: Hard-nosed, clutch, premier competitor

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow calls a play against the Buffalo Bills during their pre-season NFL football game in Denver

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow calls a play against the Buffalo Bills during their pre-season NFL football game in Denver August 20, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


Former NFL coach and current Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden is a believer in Tim Tebow, and he uses every cliche in the book to explain why.

“Tebow has proved to a lot of people that he’s a premier competitor, he’s a great game day clutch, hard-nosed football player,” Gruden said Wednesday morning on ESPN Radio.

It’s not exactly breaking news that Gruden heaps praise on NFL quarterbacks, but it’s worth examining that line of thinking from Gruden -- and from a lot of Tebow fans.

I’m not saying Tebow isn’t a hard-nosed competitor, but is there really any reason to believe Tebow is more of a competitor than the rest of the quarterbacks in the NFL? How many people get to be NFL quarterbacks without being competitors? Every once in a while there might be a player like JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf who gets to the NFL based purely on raw talent and turns out to lack all the intangibles necessary to play the position professionally. But the vast majority of players who make it to the NFL are competitors just as much as Tebow is.

The other issue is, if Tebow doesn’t have an NFL arm, it doesn’t matter if he’s a clutch, hard-nosed football player. If he can’t make the throws, he can’t make the throws. And no matter what ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating says, Tebow didn’t make many throws on Sunday.

Gruden, who was an excellent offensive coach, knows that. And Gruden says that because Tebow isn’t the prototypical NFL pocket passer, the Broncos’ offense needs to transform into something closer to what Tebow ran at Florida to accentuate Tebow’s strengths.

“You accommodate your quarterback,” Gruden said. “If you’re going to take a guy in the first round you accommodate him based on what he does. And Tim Tebow is a spread quarterback.”

But the issue is, John Elway and John Fox didn’t take Tebow in the first round. Josh McDaniels did. And so asking Elway and Fox to change their approach to rebuilding the team they inherited from McDaniels, just to accommodate the first-round quarterback they inherited from McDaniels, doesn’t make a lot of sense. No matter how hard-nosed a competitor that first-round quarterback is.