Friday, November 18, 2011

Four wins and no answers

OK. I know a lot of you don't care about sports, or Tim Tebow, and if that's the case I suggest that you skip over this post. Because I have a lot to say about Tim Tebow.

Context: For those of you who don't follow the Denver Broncos (our local football team), they drafted Tim Tebow in the first round last year. This was because the coach at the time, Josh McDaniels, bonded with him at camp or whatever and decided he was worth the risk. Tebow was a huge star at the University of Florida, but a lot of people believed (and still believe) that his success wouldn't translate to the NFL. He is also known for being incredibly, zealously religious. In college he wrote the names and numbers of Bible verses on his face paint during games (which, thankfully, the NFL prohibits). He did a commercial for Focus on the Family that aired during the Super Bowl. He is very, very religious and very, very conservative. And very, very controversial as a football player.

Last year the Broncos went 4-12. Toward the end of the season their starting quarterback, Kyle Orton, was benched (supposedly due to a minor injury) and Tebow was allowed to start three games. He went 1-2. Then in training camp before this season, they competed for the starting spot and Orton won it. He started the first five games and went 1-4. Halfway through the fifth game, when they were losing hopelessly against the Chargers, he was benched in favor of Tebow. Tebow came in and led a comeback that fell short of a huge upset win by a two-point conversion. He then became the starter (though when asked about the starter, the current Broncos coach refers to "Tebow... or whoever"). He is 4-1 when starting this season, meaning that the Broncos are now 5-5.

I can't stand Tim Tebow as a person. Nothing against religious people in general, or conservative people in general, but I find him specifically to be incredibly sanctimonious. Bible verses on his face aren't necessary. Talking about God all the time, in every single interview, isn't necessary. Advertising for Focus on the Family, a group that I find disgusting, bigoted, and deceptive, certainly isn't necessary. And I'm not completely convinced that he's skilled as a quarterback either.

Because here's the weird thing. Even though he's won four out his five games, every single win was close, and weird. He has never conclusively had a great game, the kind where he'd be considered the MVP. He had 3.5 terrible quarters before leading a charge to come back from a 14-point deficit with three minutes left against Miami. He led another comeback win against the Raiders. Even against the Chiefs, who are terrible, the game was way too close for comfort. And against the Jets last night, the defense won the game. They scored one of the touchdowns on an interception, and they limited the Jets to 13 points. Tebow didn't do a whole lot.

But beyond that, since McDaniels is gone, there's nobody in the Broncos management who believes in Tebow as a quarterback. And as a result they engage in the most conservative play calling I've ever seen. They call almost exclusively running plays. In the game against the Chiefs Tebow threw the ball, I believe, eight times all game. They only let him throw downfield late in the game when it's do or die. As a result, he's developing a reputation as a fourth-quarter quarterback. If the defense can just keep the Broncos in the game for the first three quarters, they seem to be able to pull out a win right at the end.

But it's frustrating. They traded their best receiver, Brandon Lloyd, for a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick because they didn't want to pay his salary for the next three years, during which time they expect to be in rebuilding mode and not win anything. So why are they being so conservative with Tebow? I just don't understand, if there's nothing on the line this year and it's all about the team's future, why they wouldn't test him. Why they wouldn't work on letting him throw the ball and seeing if he's any good and/or has any chance at becoming good. Why is it that after he's started five games and won four of them, nobody knows if he's any good or if he has a shot in hell at becoming the team's long-term quarterback? How is that helpful in any way?

I just can't get inside the heads of the coaches and play callers. I don't understand what they're doing. I think Tebow could potentially be good, or it could be like an anonymous Lions player said to the media after Detroit blew out the Broncos 45-10 a few weeks ago:
“Come on – that’s embarrassing. I mean, it’s a joke. We knew all week that if we brought any kind of defensive pressure, he couldn’t do anything. In the second half it got boring out there. We were like, ‘Come on – that’s your quarterback? Seriously?’ ”
As far as I can tell, that's what most of the NFL thinks of him. So the Lions must be wondering what the hell happened to the Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, and especially the Jets, who are actually a pretty good team. How did the Lions blow the Broncos out so spectacularly and everyone else falls apart against them? How is Tebow winning all these games and yet nobody knows if he can even throw the ball?

(As an aside, last night after the Broncos beat the Jets the camera showed a group of players, mostly Broncos but also some Jets, led by Tebow, in what appeared to be a prayer circle, where they were all "Tebowing," i.e., kneeling on one knee with their heads bowed in prayer. I get why some of his religious teammates might be joining him in this activity after a game, but why would any players from the Jets, who were just beaten by this guy who is being mocked the world over with this exact pose, and who is considered a total loser by most NFL teams, possibly be interested in joining his prayer circle? I don't care how religious they are--I would think they'd rather pray on their own, not on camera, after a loss. But I guess we should consider this a beautiful show of unity and togetherness. Or something.)

Apparently he's starting to gain respect within the Broncos organization (certainly his teammates believe in him; unclear what management thinks) now that he's won so many games, but we still have no answers about his future. Or the Broncos' future, which is what I actually care about.

Basically, I want the Broncos to get it together. Figure out if Tebow will be their quarterback for a long time or not. And if not, start figuring out who his replacement will be, and send him to a team where he does have an advocate and will get a chance to play, and will get play calls that actually allow him to thrive. Plus, it's really incredibly boring to watch a game where every single play involves a running back plowing into defensive traffic. And every game we watch involves us yelling at the TV as the opponent makes adjustments for the play calling, and the play calling continues as though nothing has changed. Great runs in the first quarter, and then every run gets stopped at the line of scrimmage as the defense adjusts--and yet the Broncos continue running as though the defense will suddenly forget what they're doing and start expecting them to pass. Like the coaches think the running game is still as fresh and surprising as it was at first.

It isn't. It's boring. It's predictable. And somehow it feels like four wins in five games (and three wins in a row) were a fluke. That is a waste of time and money. I don't like Tebow as a person, but he plays for my team and I want to know if he has a chance to be a good quarterback or not. I wish the Broncos would do something to finally start looking for an answer to that question.


  1. First I must say, I love, love your writing style. You are always respectful,thoughtful (well thought out?), and able to articulate your viewpoints in a way that enables me to UNDERSTAND your point of view.

    [Sidenote: your post about those dealing with infertility being sanctimoniously told to adopt changed my mindset for the better. So, thank you.]

    I'm a Christian, and what some would deem a very, very conservative Christian (I'd disagree, but that's neither here nor there). I LOVE Jesus, and I LOVE people that are unashamed to publicly proclaim their faith. I actually have a good friend who is in the NFL and who is a Christian, he leads quietly, isn't ashamed of his faith, but allows his life to 'speak' for him. I'm torn about Tebow. On some level, I feel like any future success would merit him the opportunity to voice his beliefs, that he'll have 'earned' that forum, and perhaps until then he should lay low. But, at the same time, it would be hypocritical of me to tell him to shut up. I try very hard to be objective, and to think about how I'd feel if Tebow was obsessively talking about something I adamantly disagreed with. Would I be offended? Would I feel like his opinions were invalid given his performance on the field? Probably. And that gives me some reservation about how loudly I think Tim should be living out his faith. But, I don't know...

    I'm not sure if he's doing more harm than good...he is incredibly polarizing, so perhaps it's time that he gets quiet, focuses on the game, & learns to excel in the NFL.

    -Steph [for some reason I cannot sign in through Google.]

  2. Good post - I have a lot to say and don't necessarily agree with you but I think you covered your point of view well and are a thoughtful writer.

    I am unconvinced about Tebow on the field, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He played bad football through three quarters yesterday, but came through with a huge win. And honestly, he reminds me of a very early John Elway. He can't throw the ball - and if he can't do that - and do it well - by next season, I think we need to go elsewhere. But the Broncos need to show a little faith (pun totally intented) in their young team. McDaniels, despite my love for him physically, tore our team apart, and Fox needs to rebuild it. And honestly - have you seen Tebow interview? He's PASSIONATE about the game of football. He TALKS to the press. He forms WHOLE sentences. And the fact of the matter is, he's 4-1 as a starter. The rest is inconsequential when considering him as a quarterback.

    I'm a religious person. And I'm pretty conservative - though not on the social issues that Focus on the Family espouses. And while I am not 100% on Tim Tebow's page, as the mom of a son, I am championing a newcomer to the NFL who's NOT getting arrested for drinking and driving, raping women in bathrooms, fathering children with 9 women, etc. And he's totally allowed to talk about God and who he is and what he believes as much as people are allowed to talk about how much they don't like him - and I'm pretty sure his vocal views make it harder on him - rather than easier for him - in the locker room, but he's not ashamed, and standing up for what you believe in - regardless of whether it's popular - is such an awesome character trait.

    So yeah, I'm giving Tebow the beneifit of the doubt. On the field and as a person. Because if Thomas grows up to be as confident in his believes - whatever they are, as Tim Tebow is, then I'll be very proud.

  3. I love love love that you wrote such a thoughtful eloquent post about football, esp considering you are fairly new to being a Bronco. I love how you have embraced the team.

    I was born in Denver. My first red wagon had a Broncos sticker on it (I can still see it vividly in my head) and as much as I will always love the Broncos, it's just sort of something you have to expect as a Broncos fan - they are going to make asses of themselves, make ridiculous decisions and you will be the subject of ridicule as a fan. Maybe that's true of all teams, but I can only speak for me. For a long time the Broncos were the laughing stock for having lost the most Super Bowls without a win. Thankfully John Elway and Terrell Davis changed that and finally gave Bronco fans something to be proud of for the first time in many years.

    I don't like Tebow. I didn't like him in FL and I certainly don't like him in Denver. I was appalled when they brought him in to play for the Broncos. I don't think he's a great player and I don't believe his "politics" should be so much a part of his game. I have diehad Bronco fan friends who have embraced him to such their children "do the Tebow" (they posted a pic on FB) and I nearly fell over. I don't get the Tebow love, I just don't. I don't like how much publicity he's getting when he really is not that great. I would prefer they find another QB, use their draft picks for GOOD, and start rebuilding the team. I grew up in Bronco Humiliation Years, this feels familiar to me, but I don't have to like it.

  4. Not a fan of football these days and haven't been for the last 3 years. Not a Denver fan in the least. Tebow doesn't impress me either.

    What DOES impress me is your writing on this subject. One of the best sports commentaries I've ever read. You're missing your calling, Jess :-)

  5. I spent nearly a day thinking about your post and decided I want to say something. I'm not sure why players from the opposing team praying with Tebow bother you, but I believe they have the right to do that. Part of appreciating free speech is accepting the opinions of others, so I won't argue with your right to dislike Tebow and what he stands for, after all, this is your blog. I will say that your writing comes across as condescending to those who are not as liberal as you and it rubs me the wrong way, but again, it's your blog.

    I'm not hardcore religious or anything, but I like that Tebow has values that he proudly shows. I think he's a good role model among the many bad boy pros. He's doing his thing and I think he has the right to do that.


  6. Obviously, the Vikings are my team, but since my brother has loved the Broncos for the past 25 years, I also root for them. (And the Dolphins, but that's due to a longstanding Dan Marino crush.)

    Anyway, I don't mind Tebow's zealousness with his religion. To be honest, I'd much rather hear that than listen to the rap sheets of many of the other NFL players. He's a strong Christian and I admire him for not backing down because others think he should, especially in such a high-profile sport.

    Regarding his ability as an athlete, I've only seen a few games and I think the coaches are under-utilitizing him. Let him air it out and see what happens. Their running game is iffy anyway, so they may as well see what he's made of, right?

  7. WOW. really thinly veiled conservative religious hate post. you might as well say, "no offense but i cant stand you" obviously none of these things would bother you if he was your standard professional athlete.
    tebow didn't invent opposing teams praying together after a game, it happens a lot obviously you don't watch a lot of professional sports.