Unless you have been living under a rock, you now know that future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning has reportedly decided to sign with the Denver Broncos. You also probably know that the Broncos reportedly now plan on trading their former starting QB Tim Tebow.
All of the analysts seem to be too busy debating possible landing spots for Tebow to discuss whether or not this is even a good move by the franchise. Doesn’t anyone else see what a colossal blunder this would be? To quote Zoolander’s Mugatu, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”
Are we so forgetful that we don’t remember just a few short months ago when we couldn’t turn on the TV, open up our web browser or even have a conversation with friends without Tim Tebow coming up?
Did we all forget that Tim Tebow put a mediocre team on his back and guide them to the playoffs? Did ESPN lose that unbelievable highlight where he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the playoffs to beat the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers?
The cries of “Well, Tebow isn’t the prototypical QB with the arm to lead a team to a Super Bowl” are from haters whose opinion on football is either entirely determined on what he heard from some pundit on TV or irrelevant because his football IQ (possibly also his regular IQ) is at the bottom of the bell curve.
Last time I checked, winning is winning. In fact, unless this undeniably awesome music video is doctored (impossible), I’m pretty sure Tebow was featured in the DJ Khaled hit “All I Do is Win, Win, Win."
All jokes aside, this would be a mistake of epic proportions for the Broncos because he’s still young and will improve under Manning’s tutelage, Denver needs a backup QB anyway, and he would be an absolute nightmare to prepare for when combined with Manning.
Tim Tebow is 24 years old and has already had success in the NFL. While many will may think he is incapable of winning it all no matter how many years he starts, it should be pointed out that he won a playoff game in his first year as a starter. Not many QBs have done that.
Ask Matt Ryan, a QB considered to be light years better than Tebow and who also happens to be on a better team, is 0-3 and still searching for his first playoff victory. So Tebow is 24 and has already achieved a greater level of success in terms of playoff wins than some of his more touted peers.
Do you know how old Steve Young was when he first started for the 49ers? Since I’m either psychic or as surprised as you, I’m going to go ahead and assume you guessed a little younger than he was considering he was 30, about a month from 31, in fact.
Tebow is six years younger than him and, with his insane work ethic, will undeniably improve. And oh yeah, he would have one of the greatest QBs ever to tutor him if he isn’t traded.
Before I hear a Curtis Painter comparison, let’s be clear: that’s not fair because Painter simply isn’t good. Being Manning’s backup doesn’t automatically make you successful; you still have to have "it." We can all agree that to some degree, Tebow has that elusive "it."
The point is that this is not an exact science. Did anyone think Matt Flynn would be any good at all? No, he was a seventh-round draft pick but look at him now—he was the top free-agent QB other than you-know-who and earned a fat contract and starting gig with the Seahawks.
While you could attribute Flynn’s unlikely success to the aforementioned inexact science, I think at least some of it has to be ascribed to learning under Aaron Rodgers.
This is the opportunity that Tebow has. Learn under Peyton for three years or however long he has left and then take the reins as Tebow 2.0. If you think Tebow won’t get exponentially better under Peyton Manning, maybe you’re the one taking crazy pills.
The second obvious reason the Broncos should keep Tebow is Denver needs a backup anyway.
A good backup QB is hard to come by, and of great importance. The QB is the most important position in sports, and thus the backup QB is the most important backup position. This role becomes increasingly important when your starting QB is 35, just underwent four neck surgeries and sat out last season.
So Denver clearly needs a viable backup, and what better man than the one that revived the franchise last season? Yes, that man could also be the draft pick that they trade Tebow for, but as former NFL GM Charley Casserly stated, “I’d be surprised if he went for much better than a fifth-rounder.”
It would be asinine to give up Tebow, a former first-rounder whose resume includes a Heisman Trophy, a winning record and a playoff win, among many other bullet points, for a fifth-rounder who may or may not pan out.
The argument against Tebow being a backup could be money, but Tebow isn’t really that expensive, and the Broncos are going to have to pay someone to do it anyway. Also, they would be paying him for much more than his backup services, as he is a born leader, a true money-maker for the franchise and, most importantly, a chess piece that could be invaluable to the team.
Tim Tebow is unique.
Even his harshest critics couldn’t disagree with that statement. Last year, the offense was designed around him and they miraculously made the playoffs. Despite every NFL analyst predicting his failure and the downfall of basically running an offense popular a half century ago, one would have to say the season was a great success.
Enter Peyton Manning.
Now opposing teams must try and stop one of the greatest of all time. Ask any NFL defensive player who the hardest guy to play against is, and you’re going to hear Peyton Manning. Playing against him is kind of like trying to bluff in poker against every guy that’s won the World Series of Poker.
He’s a pain to game-plan for. Whatever you do, he will find a way to beat you. Whatever package you’re in, he will find a way to expose the weakness. The man changed the game. So defenses must game plan entirely around No. 18. He is the focal point; the reason for coaches’ headaches and extended film sessions.
But then imagine there was also No. 15 in a Broncos uniform (the highest-selling jersey in the NFL by the way). The same defenses that were, for the most part, unsuccessful stopping him last year with a full week to prepare for his unique skill set must now be ready for him to come in at any time and gash them for a huge gain.
Picture Manning carving up secondaries and Tebow grinding it out on tough third and shorts, goal-line situations and simply as a change of pace. It’s scary for opponents. Not only do you have to practice stopping one of the greatest aerial tacticians of all time, you have to be practice defending the option. It’s a lot to ask a defense.
In addition, he doesn’t always have to play QB. Tebow’s a 6’3”, 230-pound beast that can run a 4.6 40. He can play just about any skill position there is and is an ideal H-back. I think he could make a hell of a third-down back. He doesn’t fit the mold at all, but I’m pretty sure he could catch out of the backfield and I’m positive he would be one of the better halfbacks at picking up blocks.
I’m also confident that Denver’s offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, could get creative with it and use him in ways we would never guess. Just look at last year. Despite what pundits will say, Tebow is an asset. The ability to play him situationally at QB and use him at other positions makes Tebow valuable.
In the end, the Broncos will probably trade him.
It’s a shame because it’s a monumental mistake, and I will go out on a limb and say it will go down as one of the NFL’s worst trades in recent memory. The Broncos have the opportunity to do the right thing and let Manning coach him up, have him as a dependable backup and use him as a chess piece to create a nightmare for defenses.
If they don’t do that, well then at least we know someone’s taking those crazy pills.