Lost His Job

Today the inevitable announcement came that the New York Jets have released QB Tim Tebow. Tebow is a very polarizing figure in the sports world. People love him or hate him for his faith and his on the field accomplishments. But before we get all panicked about Tebow getting cut I want to remind us of some things.

First, Tim Tebow is a great guy. His Christian faith has done remarkable things for him as an athlete. He’s a model citizen, never getting into trouble. He’s a leader on the field and off the field. And the man never shies away from his love for King Jesus. A good friend of mine, from Louisville, says he wishes he could be that kind of guy–yet for some reason choses not to be. I really admire Tim for how he has conducted himself. He shames me in his zeal sometimes.

Second, what the guy did on the football field while playing for the University of Florida was simply astounding. He won national championships. He won the Heisman Trophy. In 2007 he rushed for 23 TDs while throwing for 32. That’s amazing. As a huge football fan I will forever stand in awe of what he led the Florida Gators to accomplish from 2006-2009.

Third, he had a great run for the Denver Broncos–and I’m a fan of the rival Kansas City Chiefs! He scored a total of 29 TDs in his two seasons with the team. In 2011, his breakout year where he started 11 games, he passed for 12 TDs and rushed for 6 more. He led the Broncos to a division title (AFC West) and beat the Steelers in the Wildcard round of the NFL playoffs. He can win games, clearly.

Fourth, his skill set doesn’t translate to long-term success in the NFL. Take that 2011 year where he went 7-4 to bounce the team back from a 1-4 start and finish the season at .500 with an 8-8 record. Kyle Orton was the QB that Tebow replaced. The Offense under Orton, that went 1-4 after the first 5 games, threw for 979 yards completing 91 passes of an attempted 155 (or 58.7% completion percentage). Orton threw for 8 TDs which is a TD% of 5.2%. Over the next 11 games, under Tebow where the team went 7-4, Tebow completed 126 passes of 271 attempts (or 46.5%) for 1729 yards. Tebow threw for 12 TDs which gives a TD% of 4.4%. The passing game languished tremendously. It scored less TDs, which means scoring went down.

Part of this is due to the system they ran for Tebow. It was a run-action shotgun spread. It allowed Tebow to start every play (or almost). If Tebow isn’t handing the ball off to the running back the system is designed for Tebow to either fake like he is running and then pass the ball to a receiver, or to actually run with the ball himself. This system depends heavily upon the run and therefore doesn’t score a lot of points. This puts a lot of pressure on the defense to not give up any points. If the defense has a bad day, which happens for time to time–I would know I’m a Chiefs fan, then Tebow won’t be able to generate the offense necessary to keep up. He can’t get into a shootout with a Peyton Manning. Tebow went 0-2 against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. Against the best QBs Tebow’s style needs an elite defense that doesn’t give up points.

Then there is his delivery and mechanics. They aren’t very good. Over the past decade, the teams that win the Super Bowl are the teams with QBs that are able to anticipate his receivers win. The Manning brothers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Big Ben of the Steelers. These guys don’t wait for the receiver to get open. The throw the ball in anticipation of where the receiver will get open in the route. Tebow is a wait for a guy to get open. Others do that too. Michael Vick did that and won some games for the Falcons. Vick won a playoff game too. Tebow also has a slow delivery with a long windup. That means that a defensive player trying to tackle Tebow before he throws the ball has an easier time hitting the ball out of Tebow’s hand as he throws. This leads to more incomplete passes and/or fumbles. Tim Tebow, while having a better year than Orton did in the interception department, led the Broncos in 2011 with 14 fumbles.

Fifth, teams were willing to trade for Tebow if he was willing to change positions. Tebow has long been quoted for the Jets as saying whatever it took to get on the field he was willing to do. But his dream was to be an NFL quarterback. I admire that willingness to follow that dream. But in the end, his unwillingness to change positions to a fullback or a tight end is what will kill his NFL career. Teams contacted Tebow, his agent, and the Jets about trading for him, but he had to switch. He refused to change positions. With no trading partners and the need to trim the number of quarterbacks on the roster, the Jets cut him (The Jets owe Mark Sanchez too much money to simply cut him so it looks like Tebow is the odd man out). Teams will still sign him if he becomes willing to change.

Sixth, Christians are putting too much pressure on this kid. Because of this man’s Christian faith and testimony, the faithful have followed him across the land. I don’t blame them. But they want him to be something he’s not right now, an NFL QB. I think if he went to the Arena Football League (AFL), like a certain Christian named Kurt Warner, and learned to throw there he could make a comeback. But until then, he’s just not a great QB. If he were on the Kansas City Chiefs and was turning the ball over like he did, and not scoring like he did, I’d be angry at him. I don’t want to make him something he’s not.

If I could talk to Tebow, call Bill Belichick of the Patriots and say, “I will do whatever you want me to do. I just want to play and win a championship!” Or call the 49ers. But I would tell him that he gave it his best shot at being a QB and his numbers just don’t project well over the long term. He fumbles too much and his passing skills just aren’t there. I want him in the NFL where his Christian faith can do a lot of good. So he needs to change his position to stay. Because otherwise, Tim Tebow will be unemployed by the NFL.

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~ by hankimler on April 29, 2013.

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