The short answer is no. The Anti-Tebow crowd first said he couldn’t do it and “he wasn’t ready”. A few wins in and it was, “it won’t last long.” Then after beating the Bears and their great defense (thanks to a Marion Barber fumble), it was “in spite of Tebow”, they’re winning.
It’s hard to argue with the naysayers, because they’re right to a degree. Anyone watching Tebow play quarterback would have to say he wasn’t ready. He’s playing into the position, but every game you can find plenty of passes that just don’t look like they belong in an NFL game.
Of course, it won’t last long. At least this winning streak won’t last long. If you said the 2007 New England Patriots winning streak wouldn’t last long, you were right. In less than a year, they lost a game. Sad for them it was in the Super Bowl, but they did lose. Eventually Tebow and the Broncos will lose and Tebow will be the reason for a loss.
Are they winning now “in spite of” Tim Tebow? That’s a bit more difficult for me to agree with though there’s no doubt the great defense and running game the Broncos present have just as much to do with this string of victories. Tebow, with the help of Coach John Fox are playing the game to win every single quarter of every game, but that doesn’t mean that their approach is the same in every quarter.
Why can’t Tebow duplicate his incredible 4th Quarter stats throughout the rest of the game? Why does he put balls in the turf in the 1st Quarter and hit his receivers in stride in the 4th? Why, if he’s this prolific in the 4th, doesn’t Fox open up the offense earlier? Why are they winning if they’re aren’t taking all the national analysts’ advice?
Coach Fox and Tebow are winning because they are risk adverse and their defense and running game allows them to play that way. In the first three quarters, if Tebow sees an open man, but isn’t 100% confident in the play, he shorts the ball. He isn’t playing with the confidence in his ability to read defenses and deliver the pass that a five-year veteran with a couple trips to the Pro Bowl would. The defense and the running game keep it close. In the 4th, when Denver needs points and the time for avoiding risk is over, the Broncos and Tebow open it up. Look at Oakland. Don’t you think the Raiders would rather have the Risk Adverse Jason Campbell back with his 6 TDs, 4 INTs and a 4-2 record over Carson Palmer and his 9 TDs, 13 INTs and 3-4 record?
I believe Tebow is a confident man throughout the game, but that confidence also comes with an understanding of his limitations currently. He’s a young QB with less than a season of in-game experience. Perhaps he’s reading the defenses for three quarters and finally feels he has a total grasp of what they’re doing in the 4th. Perhaps he simply is the NFL’s answer to Big Shot Rob. Robert Horry had a decent career if you eliminate the last few minutes of crucial playoff games. If you include them, he’s legendary. He simply performs better when the game is on the line. It appears Tebow suffers from the same affliction. He gets better when his team really needs him. So is it just the 4th Quarter, or can Tebow perform well outside of the final minutes?
Take a look at the Broncos win over the Vikings. Tebow passed for over 200 yards and actually had his best quarter in the 3rd. His team was down and at risk of falling far behind. Time to perform and time to err on the side of Reward rather than Risk. He went 3 for 4, with 79 yards passing, and 2 touchdowns. Those are amazing numbers, especially for a guy many say can’t play the position.
This game Sunday is one circled on my calendar for the last month, because when Tebow’s Broncos started this streak I compared them to the Patriots. These two teams are direct opposites, but yet are functioning with similar philosophies. The Patriots can’t run the ball. They play attrocious defense. They have one of the most dangerous passing games in the league. The Broncos are a dominate running team. They play stifling defense. They have a questionable passing game throughout most of the game. Both teams play to their strengths and focus and avoid risk for most of the game. The Broncos keep it slow and low scoring if possible so they don’t have to rely on their offense and the Patriots try to blow out the other team so they don’t have to rely on their defense.
Pitting these two together is a dream come true for a football fan. No matter what side of the Tebow argument you fall on, you have to wonder which strength prevails in this contest. You also have to ponder, if the Broncos can limit the Patriots offense or if Tebow can lift the Broncos offense to keep pace with New England, who do you trust in crunch time? You can never pick against Brady. He’s near flawless in late game situations. Of course, Tebow comes alive in those moments too and he’s got a running game that can keep the ball away from Brady.
No matter the outcome of the game on Sunday, the Anti-Tebow crowd is still going to predict failure and they’ll be right. Of course, there’s nothing in Tebow’s personality that seems to say that he’ll accept losing and won’t bounce back. If the Patriots get the win Sunday, my guess is they’ll see Tebow and his Broncos again in the playoffs. And perhaps by then, he and Coach Fox will be leaning a little more on the Reward side of thing rather than Risk, but I doubt it. Go with what got you here. Avoid risk until the situation demands you grab the reward.