Debunking the Tebow mystique

Posted Dec. 12, 2011 @ 7:18 p.m.
Posted By Hub Arkush

How do you explain the 8-5 Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow? A definitive answer doesn't exist, nor does it make sense to try to define a story that hasn't even reached the end of its first chapter. But here are a few things we do know. The explanation has absolutely nothing to do with God or religion. Most of the games the Broncos have won in their current six-game win streak, and run of seven of their last eight, have as much, if not more, to do with what their opponents have done to lose as what the Broncos have done to win. Tebow is a very good football player with an incredible competitive drive and will to win and a very interesting QB prospect. But at the moment he is nowhere near an NFL quarterback, may never be a good one or may eventually be average or perhaps even a great one.

First, and perhaps most importantly, with all that is going on in the world today and so much that is really wrong and meaningful in people's lives, how can anyone believe that God is devoting this much of his or her time to deciding the outcome of football games? And if you believe that God or religion does, in fact, have a place in this conversation, are all of the players, coaches and fans of the seven teams Denver has defeated with Tebow at quarterback — most of them in heartbreaking fashion — really all such terrible sinners that God believes they all deserve this kind of pain and suffering? For anyone who knows what happened for the Broncos vs. the Bears in Week 14, if God is, in fact, rewarding Tebow's devotion, what in the name of the Lord did Bears RB Marion Barber do to deserve that kind of suffering?

To all of the talking heads, writers and fans who can't think of a single explanation for the Broncos' and Tebow's success, other than you have to believe in Tebow or divine intervention, are you ever going to learn anything about football?

How can anyone who watched the Broncos-Bears game argue that either team wouldn't have won by at least three scores with Texans rookie QB T.J. Yates, Titans rookie Jake Locker or almost any other starting QB in the league under center? What if former Broncos QB Jay Cutler had played for the Bears?

The truth is that Tebow and Chicago's Caleb Hanie may have set NFL quarterbacking back half a century with the way they performed. And had the Bears not forgotten everything they'd ever learned about the cover-2 and turned it in for the dreaded prevent defense — and, for that matter, the "prevent offense" on their last three possessions — the Broncos would have been shut out for the first time in 306 games, ending the second-longest scoring streak in the NFL, and for the first time ever in Denver. The simple fact is that if Barber doesn't run out of bounds with 1:55 left in the football game, the Broncos lose, and all the conversation afterward is how they might have won had Tebow actually earned them anything in the passing game.

I believe Tebow is an outstanding young man who is going to accomplish great things in his life off the football field, and he may eventually become a good quarterback, too. Right now he's a great athlete and a charismatic young man who's on a run of incredible luck, and every time he's been dealt a winning hand, he's been good enough to cash it in. I think he's a painfully and obviously flawed quarterback today, and a great kid.

Now can we please talk some football? Does anyone remember the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2009 Minnesota Vikings, 2008 Miami Dolphins, Cleveland's 1980 "Kardiac Kids" behind Brian Sipe or the 2001 Chicago Bears in Brian Urlacher's second season? Where were each of those clubs the year after their magical runs, which resembled what's happening in Denver right now? The only difference in any of those teams and these Denver Broncos is that all of their quarterbacks played significantly better than Tebow has.

Clearly what's happening in Denver right now has happened a number of times in the NFL before. The question is: When are we going to start analyzing the Broncos for what they are, rather than what the headline writers wish they were? And when will Tebow be judged on his own performance, separate from the gifts that continue to come his way?