“There’s the Tebow base and the Broncos base. It’s one side saying, ‘We want the Broncos to win,’ and the other side saying, ‘We want Tebow to win.’ “
That’s a Broncos fan describing the Tim Tebow paradox currently griping the city of Denver. His name is Eric Williams, and he said those words to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. But that’s irrelevant information. He could be any Broncos fan speaking to any media outlet that’s trying to measure the great Tebow divide of 2011.
The Tebow polarization — the one that’s created a rigid gap between those who love and hate the quarterback messiah — is a well known and growing creature that we’ve written about many, many times. What’s interesting is Williams’ notion of a very different polarization in Denver, one that puts Tebow’s success ahead of the Broncos’ overall success.
It’s that backwards, obsessive thinking that frames John Fox’s comments to Farmer. Fox is a head coach who verbally seems to be shrugging his shoulders after just two games. Part of that is the result of Tebow’s performance, but much of it lies with the Denver fan base and Fox’s frustration with their blind support.
That frustration is understandably rooted in the belief that if and when Tebow ultimately fails to become an NFL quarterback, the blame will be placed on those who call the plays, and not the player who’s tasked with executing them.
“The problem is, there’s so much misinformation. For people that study it, you’d see that we’ve probably had more shotgun or spread offense than anybody in the league over the last two weeks. We’re up 30% of what we were in the first four games.”
So an NFL coach isn’t intentionally plotting his own demise by installing an ill-suited scheme for his unique quarterback that’s destined for colossal failure. This should not be shocking news, yet the conspiracy theorists still aren’t convinced, and are burning up radio call-in phone lines while taking a break from researching the man on the grassy knoll.
Yes, Fox is well aware that he’ll shoulder much of the blame if Tebow fails, and he’s just as confused about the Tebow paradox as the rest of us, or at least those of us who think reasonably and rationally.
“The goofy thing is, it’s almost like if he doesn’t have success it will be anybody’s fault but his. It’s almost that kind of polarizing thing. They’ll say it could be his supporting cast, or the type of plays. At the end of the day, we are what we are. We’re doing everything we can to win, and we’re finding out about a young quarterback, good, bad or indifferent.”
We’re two games into Tebow’s time as a starter in 2011, and five games overall. That’s still far too early to pass a concrete judgment, but if the pattern of brutal play continues and a mobile quarterback keeps crumpling to the ground with impressive consistency (Tebow’s been sacked 13 times in two games), the experiment may be abbreviated.
Giving Tebow an 11-game trial run is ideal, but it’s also too ideal, and not realistic in the NFL. This is a league where coaches are given a short window for success, and little time to show progress and improvement. Fox was just canned last year in Carolina, and so far he’s already gone through one quarterback in Denver, and the second one isn’t looking very promising.
The next guy up is Brady Quinn, the outcast who’s buried on Denver’s depth chart, and has been inactive or not in uniform at all for 14 of Denver’s last 21 games. Like Tebow, his contract is expiring next March, but unlike Tebow he’s shown signs of life, at one point passing the Heisman winner to become Kyle Orton’s backup in August.
Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post has observed what he calls the QB gymnastics in Denver over the past two years, and wrote that Quinn has now become lost and forgotten. The difference between Tebow and Quinn is that teams around the league actually see improvement and therefore potential in Quinn.
Legwold called Quinn Denver’s “most improved player“:
Many quarterbacks coaches throughout the league still believe he could be a starter in the right system, given the improvement he’s shown with his mechanics.
Quinn still hasn’t attempted a regular-season pass in a Broncos uniform, and he’s been judged solely on practice performance. If Tebow’s struggles continue it could soon be time to gauge another quarterback on Denver’s roster before a two-year investment is wasted.