Few players have come into the NFL with as much potential and momentum as Tim Tebow. The Florida passer had one of college football’s most illustrious careers, and was ready to take the NFL by storm. Tebow was a crucial part of the 2006 National Championship and was the starting quarterback for the 2008 National Championship game. During his time at Florida, the 6’3″, 240 pound passer set records for passing yards per attempt, passing efficiency, and total touchdowns. In 2007, he even won the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
With a resume like this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that head coach Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos made him a first-round pick in 2010. It had been 12 years since John Elway started at quarterback for Denver, and they were looking for a dynamic playmaker. With Tebow’s ability to move the ball as a rusher and a passer, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, there’s no question that Tim Tebow failed in the National Football League.
Why Tim Tebow Failed in the NFL
Despite what Tebow fanatics will tell you, he’s never been an exceptional passer. His unconventional mechanics and release simply don’t work in the big leagues. He was born to play in the spread offense, and he simply couldn’t play in every kind of offense. The reality is that in order for Tim Tebow to achieve any kind of success in the pros, he would need a lot of things to happen.
Firstly, he needed to be drafted to a team with the right surrounding talent. Tebow wouldn’t find success on a team like Green Bay, where they have a shaky offensive line and exceptional receiving talent. Those receivers would be wasted and Tebow wouldn’t be able to thrive. Tebow would have to be drafted to a team with a strong offensive line and defense, like the 2014 Seattle Seahawks.
Secondly, Tebow needed time to develop. He needed to get with a quarterback coach and work on his passing mechanics. As seen with the 2011 Denver Broncos, he achieved a modicum of success as a run-first passer. As we also saw with that team, his ceiling isn’t very high. Bowling over opponents in a division where nobody had a winning record is one thing, but traveling to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots is another.
The odds of both of these things happening were very slim. Frankly, most quarterbacks who need time to develop in the NFL don’t need to learn how to pass the ball. Even quarterbacks like Derek Carr and Joe Flacco probably needed to spend a season on the sideline as they adapted to a pro offense, but teams threw them into the fire anyway. San Diego’s Philip Rivers has an unconventional passing style, but it’s still effective in the NFL. Even during his best season, Tebow’s mechanics had him completing less than 50 percent of his passes in the league, and it cost the Broncos greatly. Unfortunately, Josh McDaniels couldn’t afford to give Tebow the time he needed.
While Tebow did spend the first 14 games of his rookie year on the bench, he was already doomed. Because while Tebow had a ton of hype heading into the NFL Draft, most experts believed that he wouldn’t be a first-round pick. In all reality, most draft experts had projected the Jacksonville Jaguars to select Tebow in the third round. Unfortunately for Tebow, that isn’t what happened.
When McDaniels selected Tebow with a first-round pick, he did two things. He doomed projected starter Kyle Orton, and he signed his resignation. Who knows if the Broncos would’ve been good enough to keep McDaniels around if they had taken somebody better with the 25th pick in the 2010 draft. Certainly Rob Gronkowski, who was still available, could’ve helped. Kam Chancellor, the safety from Virginia Tech, would almost literally knock the Broncos out of the Super Bowl three years later.
Of course, McDaniels’ emulation of his mentor Bill Belichick may have been what lost him the job. When the Broncos were busted for taping practices, paired with a disappointing season by McDaniels’ Broncos, the writing was on the wall.
Unfortunately, Tebow was left behind for the next regime. What didn’t leave with McDaniels was the growing anticipation for Tebow’s debut as the team’s starting quarterback. Kyle Orton wasn’t putting up incredible numbers, and the Broncos struggled in early 2011. Eventually, Denver had no choice but to turn to Tebow.
Of course, he did have his run, winning a few miraculous games and leading the Broncos back to the playoffs. He even won a fantastic overtime bout against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, he came crashing back to earth the next week against the Patriots, and it became obvious that Denver needed a new passer.
The Broncos had invested a first-round pick in Tim Tebow and he was simply making too much money to sit on the bench. The Broncos needed a serious return on their investment, and they just didn’t get it. If Tebow had been taken in the later rounds, maybe he would have been given time to develop, and he could’ve had an actual shot at a successful career.
The Hype Train
The sad truth is that a media storm followed Tim Tebow wherever he went. What people will try to tell you is that it was this hype that ruined his career. While the ravenous following certainly hurt his chances of finding a new team, it didn’t hurt his development. Plenty of players have received tons of media attention and have managed to have successful NFL careers. Imagine what Eli Manning had to go through, being the son of Archie Manning and the younger brother of Peyton Manning.
People have blamed everything from Tebow’s religious enthusiasm to this ethnicity for his failures in the NFL. Unfortunately, they’re not completely wrong. While he failed to develop as a passer, his following never faded. When Tebow was given a final shot at making a team with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, writers from all over the country showed up in droves. Most NFL teams wouldn’t mind a little extra media attention, but the storm that follows Tebow around can be a little overwhelming.
Unfortunately, Tim Tebow failed in the NFL for many reasons. Though he tried for five years, it never really worked out for him. Some of it was his fault; some of it wasn’t. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t enough. If Florida fans want to watch Tim Tebow now, they might want to start watching baseball.