It doesn't take a seasoned football analyst to tell you that Tim Tebow is struggling as a quarterback in the NFL. However, what is the true nature of Tebow's problems? How might he go about fixing them?
Furthermore, is it even possible that Tebow can correct his errors and become a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL?
One of the most difficult issues to understand is why so many excellent collegiate quarterbacks fail to make the transition to the NFL. How can a player like Tebow, who dominated college football and became one of the greatest quarterbacks in Southeastern Conference history, struggle so mightily in the NFL?
Even more interestingly, how can someone like Josh McDaniels be so sold on Tebow while most other coaches and media members suspected he would be a sub-par quarterback?
Many NFL media members can observe that Tebow has an ineffective delivery, but how many truly understand why his delivery is mechanically poor? How many average fans know why Tebow's pocket presence will, unless improved, forever haunt him?
Currently, Tebow doesn't pass the eye test as an NFL quarterback. But, why is this?
Here are five flaws Tim Tebow needs to fix in his game to become a legitimate NFL starting quarterback, and why those flaws are the cornerstone of quarterback play in the NFL.
The issue of Tim Tebow's long wind-up delivery has been beaten to death with plenty of observation but little true analysis.
Yes, we know Tebow has a long delivery, but why does it matter? While most critics say Tebow's delivery negatively affects the timing of the Broncos' passing game, there is one other superseding resultant from Tebow's long wind-up.
A classic example is last week against the Lions. With Cliff Avril turning the corner wide behind Tebow, Tebow pulled the ball far behind him, winding up like a pitcher, allowing Avril to reach and strip the football.
The result was a sack, strip, recovery and return touchdown by Avril, and a Lions blowout of the Broncos.
If Tebow held the ball above shoulder-height, as most NFL quarterbacks do, Avril never gets to the football in that scenario.
All successful NFL quarterbacks have varying deliveries. However, none of them drop the ball below waist-level or pull their arm so far behind them as their delivery begins.
Tebow could get away with the slowness of his delivery by throwing the ball slightly earlier and anticipating throws better, but there is no compensation for poor ball security.
If Tebow can't keep the ball above his ribs throughout his delivery, it doesn't matter what else he does. He will always be a disappointment.
I'm a firm believer that most fundamental errors in football come from some underlying psychological shortcoming.
Tebow can't change his delivery because he can't trust the new movements and technique he's being taught. Likewise, he can't anticipate throws because he doesn't trust his receivers will be there coming out of their breaks.
Any quarterback, to be successful, has to throw caution to the wind on most throws. As an NFL quarterback, you are throwing into windows to which a receiver has yet to even break. If an NFL quarterback throws the football after a receiver's break or cut, it is far too late. Defensive backs see the cut, see the quarterback's eyes, read the connection, break on the football and make a play.
Lastly, a quarterback must trust that his line is protecting him. He has to feel pressure if it is near; he can't look for it and lower his eye level. Tebow's lack of trust in what others are doing causes him to constantly "see colors" instead of focusing and anticipating downfield.
Trust is an issue for many young NFL quarterbacks, but those who become successful learn otherwise. Tebow's lack of ability to trust others in the offense to do their jobs impacts his performance negatively
Footwork for an NFL quarterback is often thought of as merely the act of dropping back from behind center.
However, footwork extends far beyond three-, five- and seven-step drops.
Tebow does a decent job of getting distance from the center and hitting his back foot; however, once he hits the final step of his drop he looks lost. Instead of "stepping up" in the pocket with a hitch, or a "bounce," he immediately moves backwards or to the side.
This is important for many reasons, but is most noticeable in how often Tebow is sacked.
Offensive tackles are taught to never get beaten on their inside shoulder. The prevailing thought is that a tackle can force a defensive end widely, behind the quarterback, giving the quarterback a soft spot in which he can step up and make a throw in which he is driving with his back foot.
Instead, Tebow hits the final step of his drop, then drifts backwards. When he drifts backwards, he is sliding into the lane designated for the offensive tackle to force the defensive end.
The end result is a sack that looks like the fault of the offensive tackle but is, in fact, solely the fault of the quarterback.
When Steve Young was at his best, a three-step slant to Jerry Rice had the same flow and elegance as a busted play that resulted in Young running for a first down.
Tebow has a similar skill set to Young, but uses it entirely wrong.
Young sat in the pocket, stepped up and looked downfield. If he felt heat, he found a crease to move laterally and wait for a receiver to find a soft spot. It looked fluid. It looked natural. It looked like the 49ers practiced what to do after that final step of Young's drop.
When Tebow feels pressure, he panics. He looks as though he wants to move in all directions at once. There is no coolness. There is no decisiveness. There is no patience or calm.
With Tebow behind center, every play looks like a busted play. Sometimes it works, but Tebow has to learn how to use his mobility as a tool on which he can lean and that can supplement sitting in the pocket when he feels heat.
More often than not, as in his frantically inexplicable spinning move in the waning moments against the Chargers, he just looks lost. Tebow has to calm down, force himself to be patient, and ad lib without it looking like a Chinese Fire Drill.
One of the things that made John Elway so deadly while throwing on the run was his ability to square his shoulders, no matter what direction his hips were pointed.
Tebow, on the other hand, is stiff. Unless his hips happen to be pointed at the intended receiver, his passes are rarely on target.
I don't blame this on ability as much as I blame it on the possibility that Tebow is too bulked up to play quarterback. There is a reason why any "great" quarterback you can name couldn't bench press 450 pounds.
It is a detriment.
Having the broadness and size Tebow has, he looks rigid in the pocket and on the run. While on the move, Tebow actually shows the ability to find the open receiver. However, he often misses wide toward the sideline, which is generally the area toward which he is moving.
Quarterbacks generally throw where their shoulders are pointed, and Tebow seems to often be slinging his arm either across his body to throw to the right or swinging it wide and away from his body when throwing to the left.
Either scenario creates inaccuracy in Tebow's game, and will limit him until he learns to correctly square his shoulders.