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Is Tebow for Real Though?
jrb368@cornell.edu
| December 31, 1969
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Critics and fans alike seem to all be wondering the same thing: is Denver quarterback Tim Tebow the real deal?

Is he the answer to the Broncos QB puzzle that has been waiting to be filled in since the absence of John Elway? The answer: for now maybe, but not in the long run. One thing is for sure: he does defy conventional NFL wisdom. Defenses have yet to figure out how to stop Tebow from bootlegging the ball up the middle. His fourth quarter leadership is not only winning games, but it is also winning over the Broncos locker room and the fan-base of Denver itself. But that is exactly the kind of player he is: a fourth quarter QB who steps up at the end to win games. He's a winner, and that's what winners do. But this is not a sustainable solution.

To generalize Tebow's weekly success, we can see a pattern emerge: he doesn't do much in the first half of games. Matter of fact, his stats do very little to reflect the average NFL quarterback. The first half of the game against the Jets Thursday night consisted of many three-and-outs, a fumble, and only a field goal for Denver. The option formation that the team was running proved ineffective versus the Jets linebackers. Even the trick plays (reverses, fake pitches, etc.) failed in the third quarter. But when the Jets (up 13-10 in the fourth quarter) decided to play prevent defense, this gave Tebow the opportunity to do what he does best: run the ball. And, boy, did it hurt Rex Ryan's defense as the Denver quarterback drove the team 95 yards downfield. An all-out blitz from the Jets defense on the final play gave Tebow an opening that resulted in a 20 yard run to the endzone and another win for the Broncos.

We have seen this before out of Tim Tebow: his first start against the Dolphins in Miami. Shut down for the majority of the game, Tebow was unable to score against the Dolphins defense, with the score sitting at 15-0 with five minutes in the fourth quarter. When Miami started playing prevent defense, leaving no linebackers to contain Tebow, he began making short completions and using his legs to quickly tie up the game and eventually win in overtime. So now Denver is 4-1, and Tebow has mesmerized NFL fans with his ability to win football games late in the fourth quarter. His inspiration on and off the field makes it hard for you to dislike the man.

But as a quarterback, Coach John Fox said it best: “If we were trying to run a regular offense (with Tebow), we’d be screwed.” Denver has adopted the Florida Gators offensive system to allow Tebow to be successful. Unable to adapt to faster, quicker, and more athletic defenses in the NFL rather than the NCAA, Tebow is doing the only thing he knows how to do: run the option. He’s an athletic football player, but not a long-term quarterback solution for Denver. For now, Broncos fans can relish in their inspirational football leader who is getting the job done with his legs. The front office, in the meantime, should keep their eyes open for QB potentials in this upcoming draft.

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