I would like to say some choice words about all the Tim Tebow haters out there, but Tebow wouldn’t like me doing that.
So, instead, I’ll be more like Tim and simply say that the season he is having for the Denver Broncos has provided football fans with one of the best stories I can remember.Denver quarterback Tim Tebow.Tebow, of course, isn’t the sole reason for the Broncos’ turnaround of a season that started with a 1-4 record, Kyle Orton at QB and little hope. But since he replaced Orton, Denver is 7-1. That’s incredible and if you want to try and tell me it’s less incredible because of the teams the Broncos have beaten during this hot streak then I’m going to roll up my . . . wait, Tebow wouldn’t want me to do that, either.
So I’ll simply say I respectfully disagree with you, but that I wholeheartedly support your right to your opinion.
Tebow isn’t an elite quarterback, I get that. But he’s an elite football player. And I hope I don’t have to explain the difference to you. Every time the Broncos look down and out, they recover. They have an outstanding defense and their kicker, Matt Prater, kicked two enormously long field goals Sunday against Chicago, one to send the game into overtime and one to win it.
But it was Tebow who rose from the ashes to play a great fourth quarter and OT to help rally Denver from a 10-0 deficit to a 13-10 win. It was Tebow who started to complete passes after not being able to do so for three quarters. It was Tebow who made two or three strong runs when he wasn’t able to find open receivers. It was Tebow who never relented and found ways – with obvious help from the Bears – to get Denver another win and push them into the AFC West lead.
Tebow, his critics would have you believe, has no business near an NFL huddle. He can’t pass to save his life and by running as much as he does, he’s going to get himself killed.
What they don’t factor in is that Tebow has been playing football this way his whole life. Nor to they acknowledge the obvious improvement being made by Tebow as a pocket passer. He’s no Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees and he probably never will be. But for a second-year guy who is playing a style the NFL is unaccustomed to, Tebow has been salty.
He ranks No. 14 in the NFL with am 83.9 passer rating. That’s one spot ahead of the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez and one spot behind Jay Cutler of the Bears. He ranks ahead of quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, Joe Flacco and Michael Vick. He’s far ahead of Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford.
True, Tebow is completing only 48.5 percent of his pass attempts. He throws some of the ugliest ducks you’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine some of the thoughts going through the head of his receiving corps as they watch the ball flop out of Tebow’s left hand.
But . . . but . . . get this: In the fourth quarter of games this season, Tebow’s passer rating is 111.0. If he held that rating the entire game, he would rank behind only Rodgers (123.3) among NFL quarterbacks.
In the first three quarters of games, Tebow has completed 47 of 118 pass attempts, an atrocious 39.8 percent. The last guy to complete 39.8 percent of his passes in the NFL is working the shoe-shine stand at the Duluth, Minn., airport.
But something happens in the fourth quarter of Denver games. Tebow transforms into John Elway, who just happens to be the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations.
When Denver is down and out and at its most desperate, Tebow rides in like the Lone Ranger. In fourth quarters, he has completed 49 of 80 passes (61.3 percent) for 732 yards. That’s 174 more yards than he has in the other three quarters combined.
Defenses that manhandle him for 45 minutes suddenly turn to jelly. Teammates who can’t get on the same page with Tebow are suddenly in perfect unison. Plays that previously ran into brick walls eat up huge chunks of yardage.
Sunday, of course, Tebow was helped by his kicker, his defense and the ineptitude of the Bears and specifically Chicago running back Marion Barber, who inexplicably ran out of bounds on a carry late in the fourth quarter instead of staying in bounds and eating up the clock with Denver out of timeouts. Barber then fumbled in the overtime when it appeared the Bears were about to win.
So, yes, Tebow is the benefactor of some strange and fortuitous turns of events.
But to deny his contributions to Denver’s turnaround season is to be petty and unwilling to give him the credit he is due.
There is a reason Tebow is the talk of the football world and it’s not just about how lucky he has been. It’s also about how good he has been. And if you don’t agree with that, well, . . . have a nice day.