Just in case you haven’t heard, Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets on Monday. Tebow’s time in the Big Apple didn’t go well, but there was a time when he was the biggest on-field story in the NFL. Of course, that was the 2012 season when Tebow led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs after taking over a 1-4 team.
Tebow won seven of his first eight games as a starter and even led the Broncos to an overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. People who are fans of Tebow or otherwise support him like to point to that 2012 season as evidence that he can win as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The problem with that thinking that it ignores what really happened that season.
I’ll start with the positive: Tebow did play very well in terms of throwing the ball in two games that season. In wins versus over the Minnesota Vikings and over the Steelers in the playoffs, Tebow threw for 300+ yards and looked like a professional quarterback.
The false hope there is the fact that both the Vikings and the Steelers decided to play eight men in the box and let Tebow throw deep. That’s the one and only throw he can make, and he made it repeatedly in those games. To this day, I don’t understand what in the world the Steelers were doing in that playoff game.
Other than those two games, Tebow was often terrible and it was the defense or special teams of the Broncos that kept them in games. To his credit, Tebow did make some plays at the end of games to win, but the rest of the team never got the credit they deserved. Here’s a quick review of two of those “miracle” wins.
The Broncos beat the Chicago Bears 16-13 in overtime despite being down 13-3 with three minutes to go in the game. The Broncos scored to make it 13-10, but then the Bears started to help. Marion Barber runs out of bounds when the Broncos have no timeouts.
If he falls down, the clock runs out and the Bears win the game. Not to mention the fact that Barber also fumbled in overtime when the Bears were in position to kick the winning field goal. It should also be noted that the Broncos defense kept the team in the game and Matt Prater kicked two 55+ yard field goals, one to tie it and one in overtime to win it.
In a win over the Jets, once again it was the Broncos defense that kept them in the game. The defense even scored the only touchdown for the Broncos before their final drive. Tebow, again, does deserve credit for that final drive to win the game — 95 yards in a little over five minutes — but once again, the Jets defense quit doing the things they were doing all night.
They backed off, gave Tebow room to run and played soft on the receivers.
In that situation, Tebow is going to beat you. Both the Bears and the Jets played aggressively and had him completely bottled up, why did they quit playing that way?
The truth is this: Tebow did play well at the end of games, but was often terrible in the three-plus quarters leading up to those comebacks. The defense for the Broncos was often responsible for keeping the Broncos in games, allowing Tebow to do what he did at the end.
As a Broncos fan, 2012 was a magical ride at times. It was fun, but teams cannot build a winner around what Tebow brings. As for his future, I’m not sure if there is one in the NFL. He’s not willing to change positions, and he can’t play quarterback position the way it is played in 2013.
Take away everything else, and at the end of the day Tebow is just a quarterback who can’t throw.
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