Tim Tebow, the heralded Florida Gator quarterback who walked on swampwater, is now in a quarterback controversy with Kyle Orton in Denver. And his millions of followers can't believe it.
But the NFL isn't a popularity contest, and that's why Kyle Orton should be the starting quarterback in Denver.
The logic for most Tebow supporters goes like this: Tim Tebow was a college football superstar. There was no one like him in the last 20 years. So he should be a superstar in the NFL, right?
No. And here's why:
The Pro That's A Con:
He's A Winner. How many times have you heard the phrases, "Tebow's a winner." "He just wins ball games," and "Tim can turn water into wins." (OK, I made that last one up.) But it's true. At Florida he won a lot of football games. But you know who also won a lot of football games at Florida? Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes and Urban Meyer. If you want to win football games, tt helps to have the best team with the best players.
The problem with NCAA quarterbacks is that more often than not, the "winner" tag rarely translates to the big show. Sam Bradford being one of the more recent exceptions, most big name schools have not produced great quarterbacks. Looking at the list of last year's top 20 NFL Qbs and the school they went to, how many big schools do you see on the list?
1. Tom Brady, Michigan
2. Philip Rivers, NC State
3. Aaron Rodgers, California
4. Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (OH)
6. Josh Freeman, Kansas State
7. Joe Flacco, Delaware
8. Matt Cassel, USC
9. Matt Schaub, Virginia
10. Peyton Manning, Tennessee
11. Matt Ryan, Boston College
12. Drew Brees, Purdue
13. David Garrard, East Carolina
14. Jon Kitna, Central Washington
15. Kyle Orton, Purdue
16. Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt
17. Eli Manning, Ole Miss
18. Jason Campbell, Auburn
19. Carson Palmer, USC
20. Kerry Collins, Penn State
Only five (or 25%) of those schools would be considered top football programs (Michigan, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech and Auburn.) You could also say that Tom Brady didn't exactly light it up at Michigan. The proof is in the stats. The majority of good NFL quarterbacks come from lackluster colleges.
To further that point, let's look which schools the last ten Super Bowl winning quarterbacks came from:
Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers, California
Super Bowl XLIV, Drew Brees, Purdue
Super Bowl XLIII, Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (OH) (He beat Kurt Warner, a Northern Iowa grad.)
Super Bowl XLII, Eli Manning, Ole Miss
Super Bowl XLI, Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Super Bowl XL, Roethlisberger, Miami (OH)
Super Bowls XXXVIII, XXXVIX and XXXVI, Tom Brady, Michigan
Super Bowl XXXXVII, Brad Johnson, Florida State
Super Bowl XXXV, Trent Dilfer, Fresno State
Take Michigan, FSU and Tennessee off the list and you're left with a lot of schools you wouldn't necessarily call powerhouses. Do quarterbacks need to take their lumps with mediocre teams to make themselves better NFL quarterbacks? That would seem to be the case. It's easy to win a lot of games when you have the best team and your offensive line isn't forcing you to run for your life.
So yeah, Tim Tebow was a winner in college. But so were Danny Wuerffel, Eric Crouch, Jason White and Troy Smith (I can keep going if you want me to.) (Second parenthesis: You know who has also won a lot games in his pro career? Kyle Orton.)
And before you cite Tim's great work ethic as the thing that will separate him from all those other failed college quarterbacks, go and ask Danny Wuerffel and Jason White if they tried really, really hard when they got to the NFL. They did. But it didn't matter.
The Con That's A Con
Mechanics Matter. In college football, gifted athletes can get away with cutting corners. Jay Cutler's gigantic arm meant he never spent the time getting his footwork right. And that's why he's not a top five quarterback. If Cutler put the time in to have Kurt Warner's footwork, he could be the next John Elway.
The same goes for Tebow.
He never had to figure out where he should be holding the ball because his offensive line kept every defensive player 10 feet away from Tim all the time. He never had to learn how to put the ball in tight spaces because his receivers were always wide open. And if they weren't, he was the size of a linebacker so he wasn't taking his life in his hands by tucking the ball and running. In the NFL all that goes out the window.
The Curse of the Running Quarterback
The running quarterback has had a poor run in the history of the NFL (pardon the pun.) But in recent years two quarterbacks who could be considered "running" have had some success: Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick. Let's break down why each one has been successful.
Big Ben: While he's not a classic running QB, his legs play a big part in his game and help extend plays. He also happens to have a world-class arm. Do you think Tim Tebow could make the throw that Big Ben made to Santonio Holmes win Super Bowl 43? I'm sorry, but I just don't see it happening.
Michael Vick: Four years ago, Michael Vick was the most athletically-gifted quarterback that's ever played the position. He has a cannon for an arm and a world class sprinter's legs. And he still didn't become a great NFL quarterback until he learned how to play like a classic pocket passer who still can outrun everyone if the play breaks down.
Tebow doesn't have Vick's legs, and he doesn't have Ben's (or Vick's) arm. So he's a Ben with a lower caliber arm. Which makes him the Jared Lorenzen of the NFL. Or Payton Hillis under center. Sure, he'll muscle his way in for a few rushing touchdowns, but he just doesn't have the skills to be a premier NFL quarterback.
Tim's great work ethic and popularity can only take him so far. It can't give him a cannon for an arm. It can make him a better pocket passer, but it can't give him a cannon for an arm or a legs that will garner him more than a one-yard QB sneak. He was an epically great college quarterback (we ranked him the #1 player of the BCS era). But I just can't see him transforming into a superstar in the NFL.