Tim Tebow vs. Christian Ponder: Who's Got the Brighter NFL Future?
Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos to yet another remarkable comeback on the road last Sunday against an Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings team. Vikings rookie Christian Ponder looked good at times but bad when it mattered most, and Tebow did what Tebow does—he won.
I've written several times over the past few weeks about how Tebow doesn't have what it takes to be a long-term success in the NFL. I've blamed John Elway, John Fox and of course Timmy himself, but it's now become clear that I, in addition to almost every former doubter, was wrong.
The answer to this question of this article, without degrading the mildly impressive (at times) season Ponder is having, is Tebow. Tebow will have a better career simply because he is a winner. For as long as he has been a part of my sports life, he has done what DJ Khaled and company do, "win, win, win, no matter what."
One of the not-so-secret keys to winning an NFL game is not turning the ball over. The less you give the ball away, the less time your opposition has on the field, and the more time your defense has on the bench to rest.
Through seven starts this season, Tim Tebow has only turned the ball over three times (one interception and two lost fumbles). Christian Ponder on the other hand has given the ball up 11 times (eight through the air).
Tebow may not have the best throwing mechanics or accuracy in the league (let alone his own division), but he is showing signs of improvement when making his progressions and acting upon them. His durability in both the backfield and the open field limit his turnovers and keep his offense on the field.
Their Résumés Thus Far
Several weeks ago, after the Broncos jumped back into the mix following Tebow's 3-1 start as starter, I wrote about how he would not succeed long term, citing five unique reasons. Today, after seeing three more wins (making him 6-1 this season), I am now prepared to change my stance and admit I was wrong.
When you, or I, or anyone apply for a job, we always provide a résumé. Something as simple as a sheet of paper, can make or break a future. Good spelling and grammar, impressive work history and a thorough education and background usually make a résumé solid.
Tebow has great NFL spelling and grammar: He doesn't turn the ball over (no costly mistakes), he has one of the league's most impressive work histories (see the 2007 and 2009 BCS National Championship Games) and, as for a thorough education and background, Tebow is one of the league's best character guys.
No disrespect to Christian Ponder intended, but he is not ready to be on the stage Tebow has lived up to thus far this year and embraced. Ponder has much work to do; Tebow has much winning to do.
If you ask Tebow's No. 1 wide receiver Eric Decker how he feels about his quarterback, he will call Tebow "the comeback kid" and then go on to explain that, "to be able to consecutively do this on the road, at home and in the fourth quarter is great. If we have a chance to win, we're going to win."
Instilling that faith in your No. 1 wide receiver (formally a three-sport athlete and a third-round draft pick) is something not easily done. Tebow has revitalized veteran running back Willis McGahee, in addition to sparking the defense to step their game up to a playoff level (minus Sunday in the Metrodome).
Once again, I mean no disrespect to Christian Ponder, because respected head coach Leslie Frazier in addition to Pro Bowl teammates of his in Minnesota (Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen in particular) have stood by their rookie and the future he provides the franchise. But Ponder hasn't shown it on the field, so he cannot instill it in the locker room, yet. I don't doubt his ability down the road but today is Tebow's day.
This one could be a toss-up, but as I have done thus far, I will lean towards Tebow and the Broncos. Christian Ponder has quite a few offensive weapons: When healthy he has the league's best running back (Adrian Peterson), one of the league's best slot guys (Percy Harvin) and a top-five tight end (Visanthe Shiancoe). Ponder's defensive line is old, his linebackers inconsistent and his secondary awful.
Tebow on the other hand, has an explosive return man (Eddie Royal) and a great punter (Britton Colquitt) securing their special teams. He has a veteran running back, a young core of wide receivers, and a young and exciting defense at his back as well.
Tebow is only going to grow as will Von MIller and Elvis Dumervil meaning the future is bright in Denver. In Minnesota, however, they are thankful for the good draft spot they will wind up with come April, because they have a lot of holes to plug.
While not as compelling a reason, it is still a crucial one. The Denver Broncos find themselves smack dab in the middle of the inconsistent, uncertain and overrated AFC West. Kansas City is in flux, Oakland is as predictable as a coin toss and San Diego, well, they're San Diego (no, Monday night against Jacksonville does not count).
The Vikings however, are in the frigid cold NFC North. They are surrounded by the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. They are forced to compete with three solid quarterbacks (two human, one superhuman) in addition to three explosive defenses.
Over the next few seasons, the AFC West will give Tebow the Broncos more opportunities for success than the NFC North will give Ponder and the Vikings. When talking about who will have the brighter future, the easier competition definitely means, again, that Tebow will.