For almost a year, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow tugged over Denver’s starting job in the media and on the practice field. While Orton easily won the position battle on the practice field, he couldn’t win games—or the fans. Ultimately, management cut Orton at the height of Tebow’s 7-1 stretch.
On Sunday, both quarterbacks were power slammed to the mat by the defenses. Tebow’s earth landed may have left a crater where Mile High Stadium used to be. Amidst a scoring famine that would have made Alabama and LSU fans groan in agony, the Broncos are backing into the playoffs on the heels of a 7-3 loss to the Chiefs and a three game losing streak. Chiefs starter Kyle Orton completed just 15-of-29 passes for 180 yards but performance-wise it was akin to Danny Devito training with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the 1990 Mr. Universe competition.
Despite McGahee rushing for 145 yards, and presumably taking the pressure off of his quarterback, Tebow completed just 6-of-22 passes, which was good enough for an abysmal 27% completion percentage and committed two turnovers.
Sunday also highlighted everything that has been said about Tebow’s inability to play quarterback in the NFL. Actually, let me rephrase that. Tebow can play quarterback but don’t expect him to win consistently—ever. He may one day be a feel good story who plays solid in quick spurts as an emergency backup but he needs to refine his game elsewhere.
No pun intended but many of Tebow’s sailing deep balls ride on a wing and a prayer that they’ll land in the arms of a receiver. Unfortunately, even on the occasion that his throws are accurate, his long windup and staring contests with receivers give defensive backs time to recover and break up passes or worse. Too often he gets praised for the occasional pass that a starting NFL quarterback is expected to make consistently. Most disconcerting for Broncos fans is that the offense is limited when he is under center.

Tebow my look more like Arnold but he is the Danny Devito of passing quarterback

Tebow is often compared to another national championship winning quarterback with questionable throwing mechanics. In the days after his unbelievable performance against the “greatest college football team ever”, Vince Young was called the greatest quarterback of all time by ESPN’s Lee Corso. At the time, I agreed and rode the bandwagon. In one game, Young elevated his status from a likely late first rounder to the third player chosen overall. As an NFL starter, he took a losing Titans team to the playoffs despite average passing numbers but Young was—and still is, a backup quarterback.
Yet, as I say this, his rookie numbers and the responsibilities that were handed to him as a rookie dwarf those of Tebow’s second season. Both Tebow and Young were lauded for their clutchness”. Presumably, their concentration in the fourth quarter allows them to excel better than quarterbacks who quiver under the pressure. While that may be true, their clutchness is only relative to their talent and ability. If Tebow were clutch on third down conversions during the first, second and third quarters his completion percentage might not look so awful.
If there’s one shing light for Tebow, he can look to Kyle Oton’s rookie season. That year Orton completed only 51.4 percent of his passes but had a 2-for-10 passing performance in Week 17 against the Atlanta Falcons before getting re-replaced by starter Rex Grossman. Orton developed into a solid quarterback but his flaws as a passer weren’t as extreme as Tebow’s are.

Winning is great trait to place on your resume but it hasn’t done Mark Sanchez and the Jets any good. If Tebow starts past this season, 2011 Mark Sanchez will be his Ghost of Christmas Future. Like Tebow, he benefits from a stingy defense but is a more capable passer despite his deficencies. Like Sanchez, eventually the hoardes of Tebow believes will turn on him like Judas turned on…nevermind.
Like Paul Bunyan Tebow’s feats have become the stuff tall tales are made of, however, reality often catches up to tall tales. Compared to the average quarterback, Tebow is built like a created player NFL Blitz but muscular arms hinder the fluidity of a passer’s throwing motion and he’s not fast enough to avoid tacklers in the NFL. If NFL quarterbacking were about arm wrestling, Tebow could win an arm wrestling competition with two arms tied behind his back. If quarterbacks were allowed to throw Ricky-Rubio type bounce passes he would lead the NFL in assists. If Tebow were playing rugby on the pitch, the British and Australians would worship him.
Skip Bayless who has led the charge for Tebow since the day he was drafted by the Broncos has always maintained that Tebow would never be Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback but that he is a winner.
As a result, ESPN’s Chris Broussard succinctly asked a rhetorical question to Bayless on First Take, this morning that I’d somehow never considered. “If Tebow doesn’t have a semblance of elite talent, why would you build an offense around him?”
Tebow has performed valiantly in a bind and was the benefactor of a weak division but he’s not a long-term solution. Unfortunately, like many rookie quarterbacks who experience early success, defenses have now developed a scouting report on Tebow and his performances will only get worse against the Steelers defense next week.
Skip Bayless never answered Broussard’s question regarding how a team builds its future around a pedestrian quarterback but the answer is simple. They don’t.