Tim Tebow – Still The Great Unknown

Tim Tebow. The Broncos. John Fox.

What do we REALLY know about all of the above?

Not much, in my opinion. However, it seems that nearly every sports fan alive has an incredibly dogmatic viewpoint towards one or all all of these topics.


Be honest…this is not normal.

As a fan of all things Indiana, I could give you a full discourse on Reggie Miller (greatest shooter ever), Peyton Manning (better than Brady), Travis Best (worst point guard of all time), Mark Prior (I hate him), or anybody else that has ever played for one of my favorite teams. That’s what FANS do. We are fanatic about the players and teams that we cheer for.

Everyone else? That’s not really our area of expertise.

Give me three reasons why Christian Ponder will or will not be a ten-year starter in the NFL. How about Andy Dalton? What are your thoughts on Colt McCoy?

Unless you are an actual fan of Minnesota, Cincinnati, or Cleveland, you probably don’t have a strong opinion concerning any of those players.

And then there’s Tim Tebow. Why does everybody care?

The short answer…because of Tebowmania. The coverage devoted to Tim Tebow has been off the charts. Tebow-lovers constantly feel the urge to validate him because of the unbelievable coverage he has gotten. Tebow-haters constantly try to prove why that coverage is unjustifiable. The poor neutral people are trapped in the middle…they just want the coverage to stop.

Regardless, most people can’t turn the channel when Tebow is on (the ratings prove it)…so TV executives keep doing the “smart” thing and ram him down our throats over and over again.


Let’s put all of the biases aside, and examine the few facts that we do know.

  • Fact: The Broncos won 7 of their past 31 games before Tebow…and have won 7 of their past 11 with him.
  • Fact: Not a single one of those wins was against a playoff team.
  • Fact: Teams win games…not players…unless of course, Peyton Manning is involved.

Listen, Tebow-haters, you can’t deny this first fact. The Broncos have been absolutely TERRIBLE for the past three seasons, and NOTHING is different about the team that Tebow has played on. In fact, the Broncos traded away their best wide receiver immediately upon Tebow’s arrival.

On the other hand, Tebow-lovers, none of Tebow’s wins look as impressive anymore. The Jets ended up being a fraud. Road wins against Oakland, San Diego, and KC were solid victories against division rivals, but none of those teams is anywhere close to elite. The Bears and Vikings? Laughingstocks. Ironically, his first win against the Dolphins looks like his best win of the bunch.

But on the OTHER hand (yes, we are now on our third hand), 3 of the 4 Tebow-losses were pretty respectable. The Patriots and Lions are playoff teams with outstanding offenses. The loss on the road in Buffalo is hardly a unique experience for a rookie QB.

Of course, at the end of the day (I may shatter the record for cliche usage by the end of this article), teams win games, not individual players. Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson have won as many Super Bowls as Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. That’s messed up. That’s also football.

Maybe we should put less stock in W’s and L’s in general when we try and evaluate individual players.

(Colin Cowherd would like me to mention that Tebow is playing on an amazing team with an incredible defense. I would calmly like to respond with this link.  That’s right…come talk to me when your defense is better than Carolina’s.  Yikes.)

A couple more facts:

  • Fact: Tebow has succeeded in the clutch on numerous occasions.
  • Fact: Tebow has been awful in crunch time the past two weeks.

What can you say? Neither of these facts is even CLOSE to being false. I really don’t know what either group can say to discredit the other concerning these two points. Let’s just move on.

(Of course, here is where Tebow’s haters scream, “Defenses have figured him out!!! He will never be clutch again!!!” as his supporters respond, “He’s throwing to guys like you and me!!!!” The lesson as always…sports writers like me should probably stop trying to bring facts into the equation – especially when dealing with topics as divisive as Tim Tebow.)

A few more facts:

  • Fact: Tebow didn’t have time to prepare with his new coach until a month before the season, and to be honest, has had to learn this new offense on the fly since becoming the starter.
  • Fact: Several other rookie/beginning quarterbacks have looked very good in recent seasons (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and to a lesser extent Joe Flacco, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford, and Matthew Stafford).

These two facts are hard to reconcile. Have the rule changes made it easier to succeed right away? Should we still give rookie/young quarterbacks some time to show us whether or not they will succeed?

I still am not sure about Tebow long-run, but personally I think the jury is still out. It usually takes us at least a year or two to really know whether or not a quarterback is going to succeed. Sure, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have looked very good at times this season, but other young guys like Matt Moore have started to show us a lot in their last few starts after slower starts to their careers.

Mark Sanchez has looked just as up and down as Tebow has this season…and he just finished his THIRD YEAR of starting.  Good grief, Alex Smith is STILL being given chances, five years after being drafted. I don’t think we should give Tebow five years…but I’m willing to give him one more.

Another awesome fact:

  • Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to try out a Droid Bionic and a Motorolla Xoom for the past few months.  I have already told you all about the Bionic, so I wanted to update you on the Xoom…
  • First of all, for anyone that has ever thought that a tablet would be little more than a large toy, you are dead wrong.  Internet browsing is so much nicer and easier on the Xoom.  Not only can you get the internet almost anywhere in lightning-fast 4G, but it’s also much quicker and runs videos incredibly smoothly.
  • I don’t own an ipad…I have heard they are awesome…but I have to say that the Xoom’s ability to seamlessly run flash videos really sets it apart from all of the apple products that I own.  For anyone considering a tablet, I would definitely recommend going to your local Verizon store and checking out the Xoom.

Back to Tebow and the Broncos.

Two more facts:

  • Fact: The Broncos have some of the worst skill position players in all of football.
  • Fact: Tim Tebow has looked undeniably terrible on several occasions this season.

If not for the Cleveland Browns, I would have said that the Broncos easily have THE WORST skill position players in all of football. Don’t worry Cleveland, y’all deserve to win SOMETHING…so I will leave you in the running for this dubious award.

Regardless, who is Tim Tebow supposed to be throwing the ball too? Were ANY of Denver’s WR’s that are still on the team drafted in your fantasy league this year?

Willis McGahee has had an outstanding year, but he was supposed to be the backup this season. After that, the Broncos have a decent offensive line and little else on offense.

Of course, Tebow would appear vindicated if he were at least hitting open players. Greg Little once had FIVE dropped balls in one game for the Browns this season…Tebow can’t share Colt McCoy’s complaints. While the Denver wide receivers can only attain a comically tiny amount of separation for their QB, Tebow has been WAY off on a lot of throws this season.

What do these two facts mean?

I think they mean that Tebow CAN be successful – but only if he’s playing with some good players.

Clearly, he’s not Peyton Manning (how good does the Colts’ offense look this year?) or Tom Brady who can turn average Joes into Pro-Bowlers. Congratulations. Tebow is just like 25 other QB’s in the league.

What we need to know is if Tebow can be Matt Schaub – someone that can look great if he has some good players. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on this one – and we won’t know unless Denver gets him some weapons to play with this summer.

  • Fact: John Fox has done a nice job of building an offense around Tebow.
  • Fact: John Fox has killed the Broncos with some of the most ridiculously conservative play-calling I have ever seen.

On the positive side of things, anyone has to admit that Fox did something this season that maybe no other coach in the league would have done – he adapted.

How many coaches have we seen stubbornly hold to their system, all the while losing games and refusing to change his team’s philosophy? Fox saw what he had, and he practically built an offense on the fly in order to give his team a better chance to win. I think we can all agree that the Broncos would NOT be winning games if Tebow was forced to drop back 50 times a game and air it out.

On the other hand, Fox has turned the Broncos into an offense from the 1940s.

The ONLY time Fox lets Tebow throw the ball is on third and long. How many quarterbacks in the entire NFL are routinely successful in those situations?

And if Colin Cowherd is correct, and Matt Prater is the best kicker in football, then how come John Fox elected to punt the ball TWICE yesterday on field goals that would have been less than 56-yards? Just think about that…how different is yesterday’s game if Prater makes even ONE of those field goals early in the game?

Who punts with two and a half minutes left when trailing by four?

We get it Coach Fox, you play conservatively…but it’s getting harder and harder to believe that you are actually TRYING to win these games.

So what do we know?

A whole lot of nothing.

Of course, Tebow’s lovers will cherry-pick different points of mine so they can annoy the rest of America today. Tebow’s haters will do the same.

But me? I’m okay with not knowing anything yet.

Just like Andy Dalton, I THINK Tebow will succeed…but I honestly haven’t watched him enough to know yet. He’s a young QB. These things take time. We will all find out in two years, when he is either out of the league, settled into a backup QB or H-back role, or in the Pro Bowl.

Now, ask me something about Danny Granger…there’s something I REALLY know.

About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


  1. This is the best article I've read in regards to putting everything in perspective with Tebow and the Broncos. I always felt that if you give Tebow a fighting chance that he could do amazing things. Yes, my confidence has shrunk the past few weeks, but if defenses know exactly what you're going to do (run on 1st down, run on 2nd down, run or pass on 3rd down and then punt), then there's no big mystery. Tebow has thrown on the occasional first down and made completions but you are absolutely correct that the skills players either aren't that good or aren't getting the job done. On the other hand, Tebow hasn't been able to make quick decisions and does throw balls away, and looks like he doesn't want to throw an interception rather than drilling the ball into a tight window. During Sunday's game against the Chiefs, on one camera shot I got an odd sense that Tebow didn't look comfortable with the play calling. But that's just me. At any rate, goal accomplished however ugly it was: reach the playoffs. Now that nobody's expecting the Broncos to beat the Steelers, let him open up and play. Play up-tempo. Don't play to lose. Don't play conservative. Now's the time to put all the cards on the table. May as well see what you've got for next year.

  2. The big change in the 31 vs 11 games is the head coach… Not Tebow. The team may be close to the same, but the coach is way better, because mcdaniels really was terrible.

    • I don't think Fox allows Tebow to be all he can be, especially in the 1st half. In fact, I think he handicaps him. Fox has made some nice decisions and adjustments, but overall, Tebow would be better off without him. Also, the play calling/in game decisions by Denver are awful.

      Tebow succeeded despite limited talent around him, a cruel media & a ton of pressure from management that didn't want him to succeed. It's a remarkable story.

  3. christiansagainstnike says:

    God shared with me that Tebow would struggle as long as he promoted the company named after the pagan goddess of victory… NIKE.
    I shared this with Tebow and his family… and I was told to be quiet by someone representing him.
    You see… Satan came up with the pagan goddess NIKE many years ago to take honor away from God.
    NIKE has been worshipped as the pagan goddess of victory… but that is a lie of the devil.
    God is the only God who should be worshipped period… and He should be honored for Victory because of the Victory He gave us through Jesus Christ!
    Tebow has promoted products honoring the name of the pagan goddess NIKE… while promoting products honoring the Name of the Son of God… Jesus Christ.
    God is NOT happy!
    God even says in HIs Word…
    “Be sure to do all that I have said to you. You must not even say the names of other gods; those names must not come out of your mouth.” – Exodus 23:13
    And on 1-1… you saw what happened to Tebow.
    Here's another 1 that Tebow should pay attention to:
    Commandment 1… “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 (God’s Word)
    Tim… I am your brother trying to get you to obey God.
    God was kind enough to warn you through me… it's time to drop NIKE and be blessed for honoring God.

  4. Indeed a great piece. Would like to hear even some rational thought from the media or Tebow detractors like this. Note Jon does not refer to Tebow the person. Most people always talk pro or con about him as a person…before ripping his ability. That's telling.

    Dude is a winner. As I wrote yesterday: 7 wins in 11 games vs 7 in the prior 31. That's the argument. No talent around him. Remarkable. And he's only 24 years old. Elway was awful his first year in the NFL.

    The disdain for Tebow is personal, not professional.

  5. flyinghellman says:

    Sam is 100% correct. This is by far the best analysis of the Broncos and Tebow that I have read this year. In my opinion the single biggest issue is play selection from a tactical perspective. The Broncos provide zero element of surprise. As an exercise yesterday during the against the Chiefs game I called and tracked Pass vs. Run predictions for every play in the game. I understand that this is simplistic, but at the end of the game I was correct 86% percent of the time. With that said, I can only assume that the opposing defense is guessing with at least the same rate; if not even higher percentage than I was able to guess. This is a disgrace and failure for the OC and Broncos coaching staff in general when a fan who does not watch game film or understand all of the detailed dynamics of everyday dynamics can successfully predict play selection such a high percentage.

    I am not a lover of Tebow and I am not Hater of a guy who has not played an entire FULL season of football. I argue that there are not any QBs who would have success with this type of predictable play selection. I am not suggesting 50/50 balance in play selection, but there are times where the element of surprise can be an equalizer…especially for a guy like Tebow.

    My final take is play Tebow like a QB and let the chips fall where they may or stop the bleeding and do Tebow, Broncos, and Fans a favor and cut your “perceived” Losses immediately after the season.

    I for one do not subscribe to the “play to not lose” mentality unless you up by 21 with 2:00 minutes to go in the 4th period. I sure wished that I had the ear of Fox and company as a one week consultant on managing strategy and game time tactics. I just get the sense that these folks look at percentage charts and do not have that “Feel” for the game.

  6. This is a great article! As a Tebow fan since his Florida years I must say he has regressed these past few games. I will also say that something is amiss here. He looks really out of it. I’m not sure but I suspect he can sense the coaching staffs loss of confidence in his ability. Just look at the play calling. 2 runs, pass. Every series. You don’t have to prepare for that as an NFL defense. You only have to wait for it. Football is a strategy game and keeping your opponent guessing and on there heels is no different than any other strategic based game or war for that matter. Sun Tzsu would be hemmoraging if he had Fox and McCoy as strategists.

    Now as for Tebow. He needs to man up and have confidence in himself. Trust me, the guy knows the play calling sucks. But he has to adapt. Regretably it won’t be for the Broncos! They will sit him next season and maybe even cut him. He will find his way to another team or be considered a risky investment and made into an NFL untouchable. OR he will motivate himself and come out fighting! His career is in his own hands right now. I am a Tebow supporter so I wish him the best. I will root for whatever team he plays for. But I want to see him get better, plain and simple.

  7. "Listen, Tebow-haters, you can’t deny this first fact."

    No, you can't deny that as a fact. What is deniable is what you deduced from that fact. As you already said, it's a team game, so you can take that fact and pretty much throw it out the window. Denver has actually scored less points under Tebow than before, so the difference isn't Tebow. It's the Denver defense which has played better under Tebow.

    This is a ridiculous article, and the whole 'love Tebow / hate Tebow' angle is silly. Here's what we knew before, during, and eventually after Tebow is back on the bench. He is a terrible NFL quarter back. Period. That's all you need to know. There is absolutely nothing unknown about Tebow, and your 10,000 words doesn't change that. He was going to turn back into a pumpkin eventually. Might as well be now.

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