Tim Tebow has become a conundrum that neither defensive coordinators nor fans can quite put their fingers on. On one hand he wins, and like every Vince Young supporter will tell you that is all that matters. On the other hand he has some of the worst stats that any starting quarterback has put up while not being destroyed by fans, media and most importantly opposing defenses.
If we only look at Tebow by the traditional measurements he should be a guy sacking groceries and telling his friends about how great he was in college. He has completed 44.8% of his passes on the season. To make a comparison Cam Newton is completing over 60% of his passes, while trying to make the same type of transition that Tebow is making. Tebow has thrown for an average of 105 yards per game, both Wes Welker and Steve Smith average more receiving yards per game.
For a guy that has put up truly embarrassing stats he has done three things very well and they have allowed him to compile a 4-1 record as a starter. The most important thing that he has done is not turn the ball over. He has seven passing touchdowns and only one interception on the season, only Aaron Rodgers has a better touchdown to interception ratio. That is impressive no matter what else you take into consideration, but when you watch Tebow play and how awful some of his throws are it is even more shocking.
The only thing that is keeping him from having his passes picked on a regular basis is how well he understands the game and the offense that the Broncos are running. For every other NFL player 60 minutes goes by in the blink of an eye. For Tebow he is never rushed, he never gets wrapped up in the emotion of a good play or a bad play, and he is always confident that he will pull it out at the end. Maybe that strength comes from his faith, maybe it comes from a history of winning, maybe it comes from having a great coach that is willing to adapt his scheme, or maybe it is just really good luck. In the end it doesn’t matter if he can keep on winning.
That leads to the question of will he keep on winning? There have been quarterbacks that have won without great stats in the past and one of them was on the opposite side of the field Thursday night. Mark Sanchez has led his team to two AFC Championship games in his first two years and has never put up great stats. In fact he led them there averaging just over 205 yards in the air last year, which was an improvement from the year before when he averaged just 162 yards per game.
There are two major differences between them and their teams though. The first and most important is the supporting cast that Sanchez has had. He has had one of the best defenses in the NFL over the first two plus years of his career to help carry him to the finish line. The Broncos have had two good games (against Kansas City and Miami, both of which are terrible offenses), one average game (316 against the Jets), and two bad games (416 against Oakland and 376 against Detroit). On the season they are ranked 18th in the NFL. That is a far cry from the defenses that Sanchez has been used to, even when they took a step back this year and went from dominant to good they are still ranked 8th in the NFL.
The other major difference, that people spend a lot more time talking about, is Tebow’s ability to run. While Tebow is throwing for less than half as many yards as Sanchez on the season he helps his offense with his rushing yards (361 yards in his five starts) and perhaps more importantly the threat of his run. Tebow can keep a backside safety from filling a whole because the safety is worried about Tebow rushing out the backside, much like an elite receiver who can pull a safety to the opposite side of a play when they try to double the receiver.
Will the Broncos keep winning? It is hard to say ‘yes’ when Vegas puts out odds before a game like:
But it might be harder to say ‘no’ when Tebow has his magic going, or to quote a friend “Who needs a quarterback when you have a Tebow”. The one thing that you can bet on is that we will be seeing more Tebow, if Oakland loses to Minnesota the Broncos will be tied for first place in the AFC West and there is no way that CBS doesn’t follow a first place Tim Tebow team (See University of Florida).