Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Tim Tebow Is A Pretty Good Quarterback

Illustration for article titled Tim Tebow Is A Pretty Good Quarterback

The backlash to the backlash to the backlash is starting: Tim Tebow sucked, then he un-sucked (five and one as a starter!), and now he sucks again. "Denver's defense explains their winning streak!" So the voices are saying.


Stuff like this, from ESPN:

His legend began to grow during a five-game midseason stretch that saw the surging Denver defense give up just 15.5 points per game in four wins. To his minions, Tebow's leadership was responsible for rousing rookie linebacker Von Miller. But his own play was awful.


This is the simplest way to explain Tebow: to look at his throwing motion and his completion percentage, and to look at Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, and conclude there's no way he could be doing well. This plea to consider the defense is a rudimentary form of statistical analysis, and it's better than judging a quarterback entirely on his won-loss record, but not good enough.

Tebow has been playing well, just in his own way. He runs well, and, on top of that, he helps the Broncos' entire offense run better.

Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports explained it well today:

"Over 16 games," said Sean Lahman, author of The Pro Football Historical Abstract, "Tebow projects to 19 touchdowns, three interceptions, 2,061 yards passing and 1,112 yards rushing with five rushing touchdowns."


Still, because the nine games in which Tebow has appeared (six as a starter, three in relief) are an admittedly small sample, Lahman came up with a better way to gauge Tebow's effectiveness. It's a spread sheet that ranks quarterbacks by "Adjusted Yards per Touch" ("a touch" being defined as pass and rushing attempts plus sacks). By that measure, Tebow gains an average of 2.61 yards every time he touches the ball. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but only four quarterbacks have doe [sic] better this season. In order, they are Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brady and injured Matt Schaub. Tebow is No. 5.


Football Outsiders explained it too: "The threat of a running quarterback really does open things up for the rest of the running game. Clearly, that's what has happened in Denver." Willis McGahee—Willis McGahee!—is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, at age 30, rushing more than he has in any season since 2007.

The truth about this ostensibly magical young man is that there is nothing magical about him at all. Tebow's not a great passer, but he doesn't need to be. Right now, he's a running quarterback, and unlike the days of Michael Vick in Atlanta, the offense is geared toward his skills. Tebow runs a lot, and Willis McGahee runs a lot. They both do it well. (Between them: 240 carries for 1,230 yards, over five yards per rush.)


The Broncos' continued success testifies less to the powers of God and/or Von Miller and more to Tebow's effectiveness at doing what the Broncos' offense asks him to do. He's pretty good, and that works.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter