Tim Tebow Rookie NFL Preseason Debut: An In-Depth Evaluation Of His Play

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIAugust 16, 2010

In sports today, there are a select few professional athletes who are constantly under the spotlight, such as Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods. 

When Tebow, arguably the most hyped rookie in NFL history, was surprisingly taken by the Denver Broncos with the 25th overall selection in this year's draft, we could officially add him to that list of celebrities. 

Whether it be his $33 million contract, the fact that his jersey was ranked atop the highest selling, or how his teammates decided to offer him a dose of rookie hazing by giving him a Friar Tuck-like haircut, he's simply dominated the headlines all over sports.

Today, he took his next step in stardom as he made his official preseason debut against the Cincinnati Bengals

Despite top-notch intangibles, many are projecting him to struggle and be a backup early on in his career primarily due to questionable mechanics. 

However, in contrary to what his critics have to say, he played relatively well. 

Following an impressive two touchdown start by Kyle Orton, the Broncos put in Brady Quinn, whom they traded for earlier this offseason. He had a pathetic outing, posting a 14.6 passer rating.

Therefore, as Quinn was largely responsible for quickly turning their 14-0 lead into a 17-23 deficit and was subsequently placed on the bench, it was apparently time for Tebow to take the field.

Interestingly, when he entered the game with 4:48 left in the third quarter, the former Gator star quarterback was met with a mixed response from the Bengals' crowd. 

His first play in the NFL was a play-action swing pass to Marquez Branson for five yards.

Note, that the pass was thrown with the infamous long wind up, a trait that played a major factor in the initial doubt surrounding his transition to the pro game. 

Then, a handoff to Bruce Hall for no gain put Tebow in a tough third and five situation. Ensuing, he took the snap out of the shotgun and delivered a perfect strike to Matt Willis down the deep right side of the field. Unfortunately, what could have been his first big-time highlight, resulted in a dropped pass. Therefore, his first series resulted in a three and out.

After the defense surrendered a one-yard rushing touchdown by James Johnson, Tim Tebow was brought on for Act Two of his debut.

For the first time in the NFL, he faced a true obstacle.

The Broncos were being outscored 30-3 since the one minute mark in the first quarter, and needed a drive. 

Instead, Tebow led another three and out series. On the other hand, he did show some flashes of promise and tremendous strength as he avoided a sack on second down and made a nice seven yard pass to Britt Davis. 

Following, yet another, score by the Bengals, Tebow took the field for the third time; down by 16 points with only 5:35 remaining. At this point, he completed two of his four pass attempts for twelve yards, equating a 56.3 passer rating. 

However, as opposed to answering their prayers, he contributed to their demise by running his first memorable drive.

He started off by not feeling the pass rush and throwing an ill-advised pass that was almost intercepted by a linebacker. 

Two plays later, he stuck it to tight end Arlic Arnett for a 21-yard gain, showing his understanding of the game by throwing it to the defenders back.

On the next play, he rolled to the right, but was sacked by Atkins. On the bright side, he demonstrated discipline by taking the hit as opposed to throwing the ball. 

Unfortunately, he was smashed by a defender after failing to recognize the blitz. If it weren't for a successful Broncos challenge, it would have resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown.

With little to play for, they decided to give him an opportunity to gain some learning experience.

Facing a fourth and 11, the center gave him a bad snap, he took off with, yet turned the ball over on downs.

On his final drive, he effectively ran the two-minute offense, which is a great sign of his development. He went through his progressions, took what the defense gave him, and threw sharp check-down passes.  

Then, with three seconds to go, he refused to give up and scrambled into the end zone for a seven yard touchdown score. 

With that, the game came to an end.

So, to recap, I felt it was a solid performance from Tebow. He completed eight of his thirteen passes for 105 yards and his passer rating was 87.0. Moreover, he got his first taste of an NFL end zone. 

Obviously, he had the typical rookie challenges to overcome. Nonetheless, he displayed his toughness, and showed us all his potential to be great. Honestly, based on what I've seen and what I expect to see from him, I wouldn't be surprised to see Tebow eventually take over the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Kyle Orton.

Despite my skepticism towards the undeserving publicity he receives on insignificant matters, I firmly believe he can be successful in the NFL and I wish him the best of luck moving forward with his career. 


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