The Tebow experiment has begun, with the Denver Broncos posting an 18-15 come-from-behind overtime victory over the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.
I’ve been critical of Tebow and his frequently irrational fan base, but what matters now is whether he’s a viable quarterback for a team that hasn’t accomplished much lately. So in the interest of rational evaluation, let’s take a cold, hard look at Tebow’s performance from today. Namely, look at what he did well, what he didn’t do so well, and where he deserves credit, etc.
Results are results, and this is a W. Period.
- With the Broncos down 15-0 in the fourth quarter, Tebow came to life, passing for 137 yards and making a couple of very crisp plays (including a nice scramble for a TD pass to Daniel Fells and an even prettier thread-the-needle throw to Fells down the seam, setting up the TD).
- The offense clearly has some faith in him, even though the locker room was solidly behind former starting QB Kyle Orton previously.
- That’s not Tebow’s fault. Matt Prater missed two very makeable field goals, and you can’t blame him for Willis McGahee’s drive-ending fumble.
The Bad (or at least, the Not Great)
While much will be made of the comeback, more needs to be made of the reason the team needed to come back in the first place.
- That 137 yards in the fourth looked good. The 24 yards through the first three quarters … not so good.
- The knock on Tebow has been that first of all, he can’t read defenses and check through his progressions. Secondly, he’s not an accurate passer, and thirdly, he’s slow to get rid of the ball. This game provided ample evidence for all three criticisms.
- He got sacked what seemed like dozens of times (but was really seven times), and a lot of it was his fault because he simply couldn’t get the ball out of his hands.
- Tebow got hot once Miami went in the prevent defense with a two-TD lead in the fourth quarter. He hit open receivers on the sidelines and underneath. It’s good that he was able to do this, but it’s a mistake to make too much of it.
- In OT, Tebow was irrelevant. On the first possession, he handed off the football for running plays twice and then got sacked. On the second Denver OT possession, he handed it off three times. Tebow did what he was supposed to there, but it was a great defensive play by DJ Williams and Matt Prater finally showing up that put the Fins to bed.
Final grade? Call it a C. Tim Tebow did enough to get the win, but the competition was bottom-of-the-barrel, and his main accomplishment was validating criticisms about the flaws in his game. If he plays the rest of the season the way he did today, expect Denver to spend its top pick in next year’s NFL draft on the best quarterback available, Andrew Luck.
Intangibles are great, but this is the NFL, and tangibles matter, too.