Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Path of Success for Tebow and the Broncos

In the past few months the sports world has been all atwitter (to use a Sheldon Cooper phrase!) about Tim Tebow. And, yes, people have been tweeting about it! The interesting thing, however, is that Tebow-mania has broken free of the bonds that typically restrain other sports stories. People all over the US (and in many other countries too!) are simply going nuts over this guy, whether they are sports fans or not.

As a result, the following question has often been found on TV, the radio, the internet, social media, and the tips of many of our tongues: Why is Tim Tebow so popular? I've seen and heard some of the following: his faith, his good looks, his generosity, his charisma, his unorthodox abilities, his underdog status, his humility, the way his success thus far has proven the "experts" wrong, etc., etc.

Robert, a good friend of mine, pointed out that Tebow has many of the elements that make up John Wooden's Pyramid of Success...except one: skill. I think he's right. Here are the non-skill components that make up Wooden's Pyramid: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, enthusiasm, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, condition, team spirit, poise, confidence, and competitive greatness. Coach Wooden also said that faith and patience together served as the mortar that held all the other bricks of the pyramid together.

So when looked at in this light, Tebow's less-than-ideal skills with relation to throwing the football at an NFL level can be offset to a great degree by the strength of all the other bricks of his pyramid. And then you add the patience-faith mortar and that one weak skill brick doesn't get in the way of Tebow's success. I think my friend Robert is really onto something here!

There is a big problem though. Tebow does have some exceptional football skills, namely various abilities required to run the ball well. However, as any football person (from a casual fan to a meticulous GM) knows, running the ball well is always handcuffed together with the risk of injury. You may protest and say, "But injuries are part of football! Denver could just play their backup QB and all would be well." Well, not really.

On a normal NFL team the backup QB is somewhat similar to the starter, because most NFL QBs are pretty similar to one another. Sure, Michael Vick and Cam Newton can run the ball well, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are superbly accurate, and Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo are tough enough (or dumb enough!) to play through serious injuries. But in each one of the cases above, the QB listed also throws the ball really well. Behind each one of the guys listed above stands another QB who has solid skills at throwing the football. Thus, when the starter gets hurt not much about the offense has to change when the backup takes over. Sure, the team loses its primary signal-caller, but the replacement is almost always skilled enough to perform at a decent level.

So now just imagine a scenario with me. The Broncos lose to the Patriots next weekend and their coaching staff and upper management decide to go all in with Tebow. They spend the entire off season designing new plays and re-configuring team practices so that Broncos, with Tebow as QB, have the best chance to succeed. This means, of course, that much of this new offense will be predicated on the size, speed, athleticism, and running ability of Tebow.

Now continue using your imagination with me. It's Week Seven during the 2012 regular season and Tebow gets injured when a linebacker tackles him from behind after a great 26-yard run. The injury is serious and he's going to be out for the rest of the season. What do the Broncos do? Brady Quinn can't run the offense that Tebow runs -- no disrespect to Quinn, but he's no Tebow! Are they going to have to try and install a new offense before Week Eight begins? Will they be able to this? How successful will this process be?

Chances are that if the Broncos fully support the style of offense that Tebow's skills demand, then in the imaginative scenario I painted above they would be in serious trouble. So what's the solution? How can Denver truly succeed with Tebow as their starting QB?

The answer is pretty simple. They must find at least one backup QB that can run the offense that Tebow runs. Will they be able to find someone as good as Tebow? Well, maybe if Carolina didn't want the services of Cam Newton anymore! But, no, they probably wouldn't. The backup won't be nearly as skilled as Tebow at running the ball, nor will he be as big, nor will he have the same running instincts. But that doesn't mean that there aren't options out there...and many of them would come at bargain-basement rates!

Here are a few ideas for potential Tebow backups: Joe Webb (Minnesota), Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh), Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco), or Pat White (free agent, formerly played for Miami and then the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL). Some even cheaper options could be found in the draft or after the draft by sifting through the undrafted free agents. Two possibilities who are seniors are Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois) and Kriss Proctor (Navy) (don't worry, I had to look them up too!).

And not only will signing a backup QB that runs the ball well serve as an insurance policy for the Broncos, it may help push Tebow to improve his running skills even more due to increased competition during practices.

Lastly, the Broncos could to take an additional step -- they could find an older veteran to serve as the third QB who could work with Tebow every single day on his throwing mechanics. Or, even better, maybe John Elway could take off his suit and tie and help out Tebow himself!

So my point is this: if Denver really wants to succeed next season and beyond with Tim Tebow at the helm, then they must find a suitable back up for him as soon as possible!

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