For Bronco fans, Tebow Time has finally arrived. Things are so desperate in Denver that the former Florida quarterback has been named the starter.
Once thought to be third on the depth chart with no shot at seeing time, Tim Tebow has skyrocketed past Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn after a failed comeback bid against San Diego to command the 1-4 Broncos.
With expectations a mile high and no discernible throwing skills, Tebow will either sink quickly or miraculously swim as the No. 1. The hype is so thick in Denver that fans have mistaken Tebow for a cross between John Elway and the Holy Trinity.
With the real possibility of Tebow failing to live up to the hype, thus making such talk "overhype" retroactively, let's take a look at four other players who have shared a similar fate.
We'll confine our observations to current NFL players to spare Ryan Leaf more humiliation.
Few free agents were as sought after as corner Nnamdi Asomugha in the 2011 preseason. After eight years languishing in Oakland and putting up decent, but not spectacular numbers, Asomugha was finally going to make his big money move.
In the abbreviated free-agency period that followed the end of the lockout, the fortunes of Asomugha were chronicled day after day by media eager to see which team would be transformed into a contender by signing him. Lauded as one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL, the hype surrounding Asomugha's decision lingered until he made his decision known.
Philly, it seemed, was the best fit.
Being added to a secondary that already included Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should have been great for Asomugha's development as a player, but so far he has not lived up to the hype.
Through six starts Asomugha has only 16 tackles while contributing to a defense that has been scored on through the air 12 times. Philadelphia is giving up 217.3 passing yards per game despite forcing four picks against the Redskins Sunday.
While Asomugha's numbers aren't terrible, you would expect more of an impact from a corner who was considered the top free agent in 2011. With a proven commodity in Samuel playing on the opposite side, Asomugha should be getting more chances to make the big play, yet he only has one pick and one pass defensed so far as an Eagle.
The New England Patriots continued their love affair with making has-beens and cast-offs great again by picking up the flamboyant Chad Ochocinco in the offseason. After biding his time during the lockout with various sport stunts, Ochocinco now had the opportunity to pull off an even bigger trick: the rejuvenation of his career.
The Patriot's habit of taking fading veterans and making them great again has been a moderate success over the years. Corey Dillon, Junior Seau and Randy Moss all turned back the clock to give New England their best, and much of the same was expected from the man formerly known as Chad Johnson.
Alas, it was not to be. While the Patriots are again ranked first in the league in passing offense, Ochocinco has been transparent, with only nine catches and no touchdowns in six games. He has dropped balls, misread routes and has generally been a non-factor.
The dual signings of Albert Haynesworth and Ochocinco in the offseason by the Pats were lauded as title-winning moves, but so far they have largely been irreverent to New England's success. For years Ochocinco himself has had to deal with hype resulting from his sometimes unseemly bravado and has done so well, dipping under 67 annual receptions only twice in his previous 10 seasons (one of which was his rookie year).
Now it seems that Father Time has caught up with Ocho, making his 2011 a probable disappointment when you consider the hype surrounding his arrival. Tom Brady has used his tight ends to greater effect as the former Bengal struggles to learn the new playbook. With the Pats functioning just fine without him, No. 85's fortunes might not change.
Ask five different Dallas fans their thoughts on Tony Romo and you will most likely get five different answers.
The Dallas quarterback has vacillated between hero and villain with such frequency that at this point fans don't know what to expect. Romo seems to be just as likely to single-handedly win a game as he is to give it away.
What isn't in dispute is that Romo, regardless of his regular-season foibles, has not produced in the playoffs, a truth that goes against all the hype he had building in his favor before taking the starting job from Drew Bledsoe in 2006. Romo was supposed to be the savior, the skilled youth who would help Dallas reclaim its former '90s glory. Onlookers praised his arm and leadership skills, and when he lead the Cowboys to the playoffs it seemed all part of the plan.
Then, against Seattle in the wild-card round, Romo displayed his debilitating addiction for self-inflicted wounds. After helping Dallas draw to 21-20 with 1:19 remaining, he botched the hold on a 19-yard field goal that would have most likely won the game. His frantic scramble to the end zone only to be stopped short, along with his pained helmet grab whilst lying on the ground in despair, live in Texas infamy to this day.
Since then, Romo has gone 1-2 in the playoffs, never reaching the NFC title game, much less the Super Bowl.
In 2011, Romo is still very much the same quarterback, prone to the same mistakes he made five years ago. His performances against San Francisco and Washington where he played through considerable pain should be admired. His catastrophic decision-making against New York and Detroit should not.
Until he makes a deep playoff run, we must consider Romo unable to live up to his considerable hype.
Billed as the next Gale Sayers while tearing up defenses at USC, Reggie Bush entered the NFL with as much hype as anyone in recent memory. Bush was unstoppable in college, exploding for 3,169 rushing yards and 25 career rushing touchdowns. His breakaway speed and elusiveness were unmatched at his position in the college game.
When the Houston Texans took DE Mario Williams over Bush, they were derided in their short-sightedness. How could they pass up a once-in-a-generation player like that? Instead, he fell to the Saints, who happily took him at No. 2. With the acquisition of Bush, a Super Bowl was now in their sights.
While New Orleans did indeed win it all in 2009, it had little to do with Bush. The speedy running back excelled in open space but lacked the ability to run successfully between the tackles. In his rookie season, Bush gained 742 yards receiving compared to the 565 he gained on the ground. New Orleans found out quickly he was needed to be put in space rather than made to make his own and couldn't be counted on in short-yard situations.
After a lackluster 2010 season in which he was injured, the Saints traded him to Miami where he has fared little better. It's clear through their selection of power back Mark Ingram that New Orleans recognized Bush's deficiencies as a runner. Now a Dolphin, Bush is getting more carries as an every-down back but has yet to develop a power game.
To say Bush has lived up to his considerable hype would be fallacious, but to say he cannot perform at the professional level would also be a step too far. Bush competes with the best of them in daylight, but needs plays specifically to get him to the outside to do so. Great backs like Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew need no such crutch.
Now, finally, we come full circle with the Bronco's new starting QB. Ever since his mind-boggling Florida career it seems almost fated that Tim Tebow would succeed at any level, but so far the NFL has been too much for him.
When he starts against Miami next week, it will not be for the first time. In 2010 Tebow started Denver's last three games, going 1-2 while throwing for 654 yards, five touchdowns and three picks for an 82.1 rating. He was pulled in the 2011 preseason by new head coach John Fox in favor of Kyle Orton, who hasn't done much of anything this year.
If your quarterback is primarily known for his running, you might have a problem. Unless Denver wants to come out in its wild horse formation on every down, it might want to dial up some short, reliable passing plays for the kid.
While there are valid criticisms to be laid upon Tebow's arm and throwing fundamentals, no one can question his positive effect on the Broncos when he enters the game. Putting Tebow in nowadays has been akin to sticking the offense in a light socket. The young man generates so much energy the team can't help but play better.
Other than that, Tebow cannot make all the throws you need to succeed at this level. Fan favorite though he is, Fox would not have named him the starter unless he had incredibly little faith in Orton or Brady Quinn. Once only set to come on in specific packages, Tebow will now have to make it work on every down. If teams can take away the run and make him through, it's going to be a long season for Denver.
If Denver continues to lose, it puts itself in a better position for Andrew Luck in the draft. In the end that might be the way to go—I hear Luck is the best QB prospect since John Elway.