The Tim Tebow Watch with the New England Patriots has ended. But as we’ve all learned, the Tebow Watch never really stops.
It would be great if it did, though. If for one offseason, or one training camp, or one stretch of games, the obsession over him by everybody who worships him and everybody who despises him (or despises those who worship him) could take a vacation, we all might find out if Tebow could succeed in the NFL.
As a quarterback.
After the Patriots let him go, Tebow went on Twitter to vow he would continue his “relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.” That got a lot of laughs from people who have seen him play NFL quarterback the past three-plus years.
The skepticism is understandable. Tebow can’t throw – there’s no sugarcoating it.
Something like 80 quarterbacks made opening-week rosters, and Tebow wasn’t one of them, which should send a pretty strong message about his future at the position.
On the other hand … there was the 2011 season. No one has been able to explain that yet. For all his flaws and inadequacies, Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a division championships and a playoff win, throwing a strike for the touchdown that beat Pittsburgh in overtime.
Lots of times, he didn’t look any better performing then than he did before that season, or the year after with the Jets, or this training camp with the Patriots. It didn’t matter.
No one has figured out how he did it. No one has figured out how he could do it again, either.
But he did it, and someone ought to figure out a way for him to do it again.
No matter how he plays, and no matter how his legion of overactive admirers keep harassing and bullying anybody who doesn’t share their unconditional love, Tebow’s teammates and coaches always have great things to say about him, from the winning Broncos, to the losing Jets, to the Patriots who were only around him for a couple of months. His powers to inspire and get people to follow him are not exaggerated.
And if it had been up to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Tebow would still be around, no matter what his role. He said it when they signed him, repeated it during training camp, and emphasized it one more time after he was cut. (Go to the 2:22 mark of the video below.)
Plus, he has the same number of career playoff wins as Matt Ryan, and got his earlier.
The key: Stop trying to make Tebow into Ryan – or Brady, or Peyton Manning. He will never succeed when asked to play quarterback the way they do, in offenses designed for that style.
As creative as NFL coaches can be in every other area of the game (the zone blitz … defensive tackles dropping into pass coverage?), they are terrified of anyone who can run, or anyone who can’t revert to standing tall in the pocket like Johnny Unitas did 50 years ago.
Teams have built around the likes of Jeff George, yet someone who moves the ball with his legs and arm is forced to change or perish.
If the one thing Tebow doesn’t bring to a team is a cannon arm, then a smart team ought to be able to find a way to use all those other qualities and give him a chance to make it work.
One team did, for one year. That should have earned Tebow another chance.
So don’t stop The Watch yet.