When Tim Tebow took over for the Broncos in week seven, many saw this move as a sign that they were giving up on the season to see what they had in the former Florida Gators star. From the moment he was drafted two years ago, everyone has questioned his throwing motion, which was much slower than many top quarterbacks. Others wondered whether he could run an NFL offense, which is much different than the run-first method that won him a Heisman and two national championships in college. No one really gave him a shot to do anything at the professional level, including the Broncos’ current owner and Hall of Fame former quarterback John Elway.
His first game against the Dolphins started as many expected: he wasn’t able to move the ball against a team that was winless at that point. Then the fourth quarter came around, and suddenly Tebow was leading the Broncos down the field with poise and good touch on his throws. The Broncos went on to win that game on a field goal in overtime, as Tebow dropped to a knee in silent prayer. This humble celebration was quickly dubbed “Tebowing,” and has set off a national craze that even has its own official website. Even with Tebow pulling off this magnificent comeback, I was hesitant to give him credit because he looked awful through three quarters in that game as well as his entire next game against the Lions, in which he turned the ball over twice in a 45-10 loss.
However, Tebow was able to defy everything I’ve learned about professional football in my years of watching the game by winning all of his next five games without throwing for 200 yards in all but one game. Why is this “old-school” method of run-first football working in a league that has grown more pass-happy than ever recently? Well, one thing that will likely never change about the game of football is that if you win the time of possession battle and play mistake-free football, you will win more games than you lose. The easiest way to do this is keeping the ball in a running back’s hands rather than throwing it all over the field. Right now the Broncos are the perfect example of this, as Tebow’s lone interception came against the Lions, while he has thrown for 10 touchdowns and run for 3 more this season. On defense, future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey leads a very talented group that is shutting down opposing offenses and is benefiting from the extra rest that a running offense provides. The Broncos as a whole are wearing team’s down with the run, and keeping the game close until the final quarter, where Tebow takes over.
Do I think Tebow can make this work long term? No. But I will concede that anytime someone tells him he can’t do something, Tebow goes out looking to prove them wrong. He possesses an indomitable will that at this point is undeniable. He has had critics every step of the way, and overcome them by winning at every level. The true test for him now is to complete the Broncos’ turnaround this season and lead them to the promised land of the playoffs. Winning playoff games against elite AFC teams like the Patriots, Steelers, and Ravens would silence the rest of Tebow’s haters. Looking at their remaining schedule, they have games against the Bears, Patriots, Bills, and Chiefs. I see at least two of these games as winnable for the Broncos, but three wins would put them in better position to win their division over the Raiders, who are tied with them atop the AFC West.
In the meantime, Tebow has to keep working his magic, one last-second comeback win at a time.