Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Other 31

(Tebowing as I write this)
I’m not sure if any of you know this or not but there is a phenomenon going on this season in the National Football League.
You have three quarterbacks on pace to break Dan Marino’s record for most passing in a season.  You have one quarterback that hasn’t lost a game in over a calendar year and some rookie QB’s who are having phenomenal seasons.  You have some teams who have performed well below expectations, coaches that have been fired before the 17th week and one team that is so winless all because they lost one player to a neck injury. 
Yet if you watch any programming on Sports Center, you would hardly know any of this.  And if they do talk NFL, don’t blink because you might miss news on the rest of the league.  The reason can be summed up in two words: Tim Tebow.
Ever since former Denver Broncos’ Quarterback Kyle Orton was benched and Brady Quinn was passed over to give the 4th string quarterback a chance the Broncos have been on a role.  It had been bumpy at times with Tebow at the helm but they have won nonetheless.  I can’t slight the kid for making the most of his chance as any of us would want.  What I do have the problem with however is the incessant love fest he gets and the vitriolic responses anyone who dares call his skills into question receives.
Leading the charge has been the Glenn Beck of ESPN, Skip Bayless.  For whatever reason, this idiot has been on the bandwagon from the beginning.  He claims that if Tebow had been the starter, they would probably be undefeated.  I counter that with the fact that if the defense had been playing like they are playing now, Kyle Orton would still be in Denver and Tebow would be hoping a team would give him a shot next season.  Bayless also claims that Tebow has been the spark of the team but what I believe he and others like Woody Paige and the like are really doing is turning more people against Tebow than they know; teammates included. 
A few weeks ago following a hard fought win against the San Diego Chargers, Tebow drove the team down the field where Matt Prater kicked the game winning field goal.  The game wasn’t pretty, as most haven’t been, but they still got the win.  And as the announcers, commentators and writers were heaping praise on the Tebow Train, a few players were quick to slow down the momentum.  Running back Willis McGahee, among others recognized the defenses efforts basically saying that if the other side of the ball wasn’t playing to the level they had been, there was no way they would stay in games, let alone beat anyone.  And I agree. 
You cannot stink up the field completing 25 percent of your passes for 31/3 quarters and then all of a sudden think you will win in the last two minutes of a game every week.  I’m sorry but it’s not sustainable.  Critics of critics of Tebow may point to his touchdowns versus low turnovers and claim the guy takes care of the ball and the fourth quarter comebacks.  It is true that he doesn’t throw interceptions, but you also have to remember, he doesn’t throw the damn ball either.  He’s had only two 200+ yard games this year.  He’s not asked to do a lot in terms of torching defenses other than with his legs or by confusion by utilizing the read option, which like the Wild Cat, will get exposed and destroyed.  As far as the comebacks, you have to be losing in order to have a comeback right?  Then isn’t his play they have to come from behind in the first place?  That’s another check mark for the defense.
People also have to take into consideration the teams they have played.  Their division alone is full of underachievers, one of which was Denver at the beginning of the season.  Going outside of the division doesn’t fare any better.  Vikings-Terrible.  Bears-no Cutler or Forte.  Jets-Mark Sanchez.  These teams are awful yet Tebow is treated like he is the second coming of Joe Montana, and he didn’t even get this kind of pub.
I contend that if Tebow had to face a real team that had players on both sides of the ball, he’d be in trouble.  I want to see Broncos-Steelers, Broncos-Ravens or Broncos-49ers.  If he can perform against the teams that will actually put it on him and make him have to really play quarterback, then I may give the guy some credit, but until then whatever.
What I like is for ESPN to remember there are 31 other teams out there with great story lines and great match-ups week to week.  There are other guys in the league that are having historic seasons and they are getting left in the wake of the non-story that is Tim Tebow. I’d like to see less Bayless and More Merril Hoge and I'd like to get through an episode—make that a half hour of First Take without a mention of Tim Tebow.
But that’s wishful thinking.

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