Zo Knows: Tim Tebow Won’t Make it at QB, But I Won’t Bet Against Him
Okay, so I think I’m going to pass on Tim Tebow as my team’s quarterback of the future.
Don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t an easy conclusion to come to. This man has won so many games and has been so dominant during his career at Florida that it’s hard to say this man won’t be successful at anything he tries in life, never mind on the football field.
But as pretty as Tebow’s body of work is, a duck is still a duck, and a non-traditional quarterback is still a non-traditional quarterback. The things Tebow has exploited in college won’t be there in the NFL, and that’s why I wouldn’t put my money on him succeeding at the next level of quarterbacking.
That being said, there are those that disagree with me. One of those people includes Bob Griese, the great Dolphins quarterback and captain of the 1972 Dolphins squad that went undefeated. Naturally, Griese has forgotten more about football than I have ever known, and he should have a better insight on a player’s potential and their possible development in the NFL. But I have to disagree with his notion that tailoring an NFL offense to his game would somehow allow Tebow to be successful in the NFL. Sorry, but Tebow’s game is running the football and completing passes to wide open players down the field. That doesn’t work in the NFL. Maybe if were Michael Vick and had the speed of gazelle and the arm strength of cannon, then maybe I could sign on to tailoring a system to Tebow’s needs. But Tebow isn’t faster than most defensive ends in the NFL, so his prowess as a runner is limited to his combination of speed and size. That type of running style lends to taking on big hits, and if he’s going to take on defenders like that, he needs to be at some position other than quarterback.
But the question really is, “Why don’t people think Tebow can throw at the next level?”
Well, as always, let’s look at the numbers.
First of all, as teams have grown more and more accustomed to Urban Meyer’s system over the years, Tim Tebow’s passing numbers have fallen each year since he began starting in 2007, his Heisman season. In 2008, Tebow went from 3,286 yards to 2,746 yards. And this year, he went from 2,746 passing yards to just 2,413. Not to mention he has played better teams over the past two seasons than the one he played in 2007, but that’s a story for another day.
If his fall from prolific passing yardage to mediocre isn’t enough to impress you, how about the fact that Tebow efficiency just isn’t the same either. In 2007, Tebow was 66.9% completion percentage passer. But in 2008 and 2009, he completed just 64.4% and 65.2% of his passes—once again, something that could be the result of team’s growing more accustomed to the Meyer system and recognizing Tebow’s strengths and weaknesses.
Or how about Tebow’s efficiency over the years? Both Tebow’s college football quarterback rating and his average yards per passed have dropped significantly from 2007 to this previous season. Not to mention, Tebow threw for far fewer touchdown this season than in years pass, managing just 18 touchdown passes in 2009, compared to 32 and 30 in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
On the other hand, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, one of the other notable quarterbacks in the upcoming 2010 NFL draft, as poorly as his team played, exhibited signs of being a great NFL quarterback this season. Whereas Tebow completed 65.2% of his passes this season, Clausen completed 68% of his. Whereas Tebow threw 18 touchdowns to 5 picks this season for a ratio of 4.5:1, Clausen threw for 28 touchdown passes to 4 interceptions, a ratio of 7:1. Clausen’s average yards per pass and quarterback ratings were higher than Tebow’s despite lacking the running threat that Tebow brings to the game.
But okay, that’s just Clausen. How about an NFL quarterback’s college numbers? How about we even go with a bad NFL quarterback, like JaMarcus Russell?
While at LSU, 1st pick overall JaMarcus Russell, who’s been nothing but horrible throughout his career, completed 67.8% of his passes, and had a higher average, more touchdowns and a higher quarterback rating than Tebow did in his 2006 senior season. And even he’s not making it in the NFL!
Now in Ryan’s defense, he has better numbers than both unproven and proven guys we consider to be good quarterbacks. Tebow’s 64% completion rate is far better than the 58% rate at which once-presumed to QB Jake Locker’s numbers. Also, Tebow’s numbers were better than the Atlanta Falcon’s Matt Ryan’s numbers were, especially in terms of completion percentage and interceptions (Ryan threw 19 in 2007!).
However, one of the things about those guys that immediately stands out is that each of those quarterbacks faced teams that were better than them for the majority of their schedule, so certainly they shouldn’t have had the success that Tebow had with all of the talent in the world at Florida. Still, it does speak to the fact that we can’t knock Tebow for everything, and that people that haven’t looked nearly as good as Tebow at throwing the ball in college and still went on to have fruitful NFL careers. So at the end of the day, it’s all a crap shoot. Nevertheless, in the game of craps, I consider Tebow snake-eyes, and as a gambling man, I wouldn’t want any piece of that bet.