Tim Tebow makes his unofficial arrival to the NFL
The day after what might have been the last game ever played by quarterback Brett Favre, another quarterback whom many believe could become the heir to Favre’s throne unofficially launches his pro career, as Senior Bowl week commences in Mobile, Alabama.
Tebow recently spoke with Peter King of SI.com. And though Tebow previously has said he’ll do whatever the team that drafts him wants him to do, it’s clear he’s hoping to be drafted by a team that wants to make him an every-down quarterback.
“I want to show, number one, that I’m a competitor, and I’m not afraid for teams to see everything about me,” Tebow told King. “My goal is to find just one team, one out of 32, to believe in me as a quarterback. I’m not just the guy who can play in the spread offense, or throw a jump pass or run the triple option. I’m a football junkie. I study it all the time. I’ve studied every type of offense -- pro style, West Coast. Just because I haven’t played every kind of offense, why can’t I? Why can’t I run the West Coast? My coaches at Florida didn’t just teach us a system. They taught us football. So I want the NFL people to put me through everything. Grind on me, test me. I feel I’ve worked my whole life to prepare for this.’'
But apart from his ability to master playbooks, Tebow needs to work on some of the mechanical aspects of the game. As King points out, Tebow will need to demonstrate accuracy in longer throws. As FOX’s Brian Billick pointed out very astutely during the Sugar Bowl, Tebow will need to be cured of a slow release that provides low-hanging fruit both to ravenous defensive ends with a knack for causing fumbles -- and to sticky-fingered cornerbacks with a knack for jumping routes.
And as we’ve been saying for months, Tebow’s lack of experience taking snaps from under center will show up in a big way the first time in a real game he turns his back to the defense when faking a handoff and then tries a second or two later to figure out where everyone is, and where they’re all going.
Then there’s the fact that Tebow will be appearing in a 30-second Super Bowl commercial touting a pro-life theme. Though he’s entitled to his beliefs -- and he’ll rightfully be applauded by many for espousing them -- his decision to dive head first into a pool of polarity could make some NFL teams leery of adding someone who might ultimately divide the locker room like the Red Sea.
“That’s always going to be a part of who I am, and I won’t try to hide it,’' Tebow told King. “A team that doesn’t want that shouldn’t take me. Pro-life is very important to me. My mother listened to God late in her pregnancy, and if she had listened to others and terminated me, obviously I wouldn’t be here. If others don’t have the same belief, it’s OK. I understand. But I hope they respect that at least I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in.’'
But here’s the problem with that. At the NFL level, the game of football has many levels of complexity, nuance, and ego. With the top end of the coaching salary market current at less than 50 percent of the annual pay of a franchise quarterback, players aren’t as likely to defer to the guy with the whistle as they are in college -- especially if a quarterback with “the courage to stand up for what I believe in” doesn’t believe in something the head coach is doing.
Take Favre, for example. With coach Brad Childress getting no credit for the team’s performance in 2009 -- and with Favre taking public in December a mini-schism arising from the quarterback’s propensity to ignore the coach -- it would be unwise to assume that Chilly has warmed up to the idea of signing up for a second tour of duty with No. 4. (More on that in today’s PFT Daily.)
So with NFL coaches trying desperately to run the show and with Tebow already demonstrating traits that could culminate in a showdown between coach and quarterback, Tebow’s “courage to stand up for what I believe in” could end up doing more harm to Tebow’s prospects than any flaws in his game.
And that’s not a comment on the abortion issue. It’s a recognition of the reality that Tebow’s willingness to speak his mind won’t necessarily be viewed as a good thing by the men who are responsible for ensuring that the 53 players aren’t receiving mixed signals.