Tim Tebow: Label as Most Overrated Player Unfair to Jets' QB

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 9, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08:  Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Jets runs the ball against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on October 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Texans won 23-17. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

A recent NFL players' survey conducted by Sporting News concluded that New York Jets QB Tim Tebow is the most overrated player in the league. There is certainly an unprecedented media circus surrounding a backup quarterback, but the most recent harsh criticism is nevertheless unfair to the third-year pro.

Tebow received 36 votes for the unflattering honor, and the next closest to him was Dallas Cowboys signal caller Tony Romo.

Quarterback is easily the most scrutinized position in football—arguably in all of professional sports. The fact that Tebow is such a lightning rod for debate highlights what makes him so special.

Seriously, how many more times can you possibly see the arguments for and against Tebow rehashed and redistributed before you become sick to your stomach? Probably not many more.

No matter where anyone falls on the issue of Tebow and whether he can be a successful, winning NFL quarterback, there is some sort of desire to see him play from all parties involved—to see him thrive or fail.

Even though he was a first-round pick back in 2010, Tebow was going to be a developmental prospect from the get-go.

Fast-forward to a whirlwind two and a half seasons later, with three different offenses and zero opportunities to enter training camp as "the guy" to lead a franchise, and Tebow is pretty much back at square one.

Now getting occasional snaps in the Wildcat package and serving as the Jets' personal punt protector, it's almost impossible to call Tebow overrated in any sense. It's easy to label him a bust as QB–until it becomes clear that he's never really had ideal circumstances under which to succeed.

That's what the apologists will argue, anyway.

Opponents of Tebow's style of play will point to his league-leading three-and-out drives in 2011, his inaccuracy and his generally putrid performances for three quarters in most games.

All those critiques of Tebow were expected despite his extremely successful career running and throwing the football at the University of Florida.

The coach that drafted him, Josh McDaniels, was to tailor the offense to Tebow's strengths and likely anoint him the starter entering his second season. The Denver Broncos fired McDaniels before that could happen. That led to a magical run by Tebow in 2011 while learning a new system and adjusting to new top targets on the fly.

Every flaw that made Tebow overrated as a prospect continues to make him overrated in the eyes of his NFL peers.

But has he really had the opportunity to adequately prove himself—or improve—in his very, very short career to date? I'd say no.

Maybe the hype machine that surrounds Tebow is overrated, as one anonymous AFC player from the Sporting News survey suggests. All I saw last season, though, was pure late-game genius and the precise intangibles everyone expected to see from the extraordinary individual Tebow continues to be painted as.

As inaccurate and non-clutch as Mark Sanchez has been in the Big Apple in 2012, perhaps it's time for a changing of the guard under center for the Jets. The run-based philosophy of head coach Rex Ryan and imaginative offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are as good of a combination as any to get the most out of Tebow's current abilities.

The question is whether Tebow will ever get a shot at proving himself—and shedding the "overrated" label unfairly bestowed upon him.