Does Tim Tebow Deserve All The Criticism He’s Getting Right Now?
This fall, Tim Tebow is hoping he’ll be busy playing football. But on this particular Sunday, Tebow—arguably the most marketable player in the NFL despite the fact that he started just three games in the rookie season last year—is fighting an overwhelming amount of criticism just weeks after it seemed he’d all but locked up his role as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
It comes on the heels of the news that Broncos 2010 starter Kyle Orton, who was rumored to be on the trading block as recently as last week, is outperforming Tebow and third-string QB Brady Quinn at Broncos training camp this month. As a result, Tebow is hearing once again that he can’t play quarterback in the NFL. And after hearing that talk all during training camp and the regular season last year, he says he’s not going to take it in 2011.
“I’m trying to insulate myself from what people in the media are saying,” Tebow told the Denver Post at the end of last week, “but I’ve seen some of it, and it hurts because it’s coming from people who haven’t seen me practice, haven’t seen me play, haven’t seen what I can do. I did an interview the other day with someone on the NFL Network who said last year I’d never play a down in the NFL. He was wrong…Others who say I won’t make it are wrong. They don’t know what I’m capable of and what’s inside me. My family and friends have been bothered by what’s going on, and I tell them to pay no attention to it. I’m relying as always on my faith.”
He’s going to need it. Recently, ESPN‘s NFL analyst Merril Hoge took to his Twitter account to reveal that he thinks “it’s embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow.” And he didn’t stop there. “He is awful as far as accuracy goes,” Hoge said later on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “And what’s kind of even more disturbing, he’s probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pokcet. Can you get better there? A little bit. If everything is perfect, the pocket, your feet are good, all your fundamentals come into place, the coverage is what you want it, you can be successful. But that doesn’t happen at the National Football League. Rarely does that happen.”
And, surprisingly, Hoge didn’t stop there, either. He also appeared on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning as well late last week to take a few more shots at Tebow—and address the fact that some people think his criticism of Tebow has become personal. “They think it’s a personal attack,” Hoge said. “It’s purely a football evaluation…I never said he’s a bad guy. In fact, I know he’s a great guy. I’ve met him. It’s a football evaluation based on over 25 years of studying this league, working in this league.”
So, we have to ask: Does Tim Tebow really deserve all this criticism? As Hoge says, he’s got a ton of experience evaluating football players, so we can’t sit here and say that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He clearly does and he makes some valid points about Tebow’s mechanics. If Tebow wants to be a long-time solution for the Broncos are quarterback, he needs to get significantly better—which is something that Tebow seems to realize.
At the same time, Tebow clearly has some of the intangibles that other quarterback busts from the past haven’t had. Unlike guys like Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, and JaMarcus Russell, Tebow has the drive to at least try to succeed, which is half the battle when it comes to being a successful NFL quarterback. If nothing else, he’s going to give the cliched 110 percent on the field and work his ass off to try and help the Broncos win.
But, here’s the thing about Tebow at this point in his career as opposed to last summer. He’s already on an NFL roster—and he’s started three games—so we really don’t have to wonder anymore about how good or how bad he’ll be in the league. He now has the opportunity to silence his critics by becoming the best quarterback option the Broncos have and then following through on it by leading them to some success on the field. No one is expecting him to go to the Super Bowl in his second season on a subpar team, but they are expecting him to compete for the starting quarterback slot.
And when you think about it like that, all of the criticism Tebow is receiving really doesn’t matter. We’re sure he doesn’t like reading negative stuff about himself in the newspaper and we’re sure he feels like Merril Hoge is getting on his case. But he doesn’t need to convince people that he’s a worthy first-round draft pick anymore. He doesn’t have to try and convince the Broncos that he can play quarterback. All he needs to do is focus on playing football and use all the criticism he’s receiving right now to make him a better player.
To his credit, it sounds like he’s already starting to do that. “I’ll always use the negativity as more motivation to work even harder and become even stronger,” Tebow told the Denver Post. “I’ll practice as good as I can, but I know that I play even better, with the qualities I have—leadership, my ability to make something happen in games, winning. And I know there are a lot of people who believe in me as a player and a person, and I don’t want to let them down.”
As long as he keeps playing for those people, he’ll be fine. But we hope he’s getting used to all this criticism, because until he proves himself, it’s not going to stop anytime soon.