Yesterday I spent some time listening to a local Denver sports radio show where there was a discussion on the leadership differences between current quarterback Peyton Manning and former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. It seemed that there was quite a lot of criticism involving the way Tebow led (or didn't lead) the Broncos in 2011.
Willis McGahee, one of the veterans of this Broncos team, said yesterday that they didn't have a quarterback last year that would "take charge." That can be interpreted both as a dig against Tim Tebow and as a pure statement of the truth. Tebow was a neophyte last season behind center, and it showed. He wasn't ready to step into an NFL-style offense, and the Broncos were required to make a number of adjustments to their offense in order to make it work.
Tebow didn't need to direct the offense or show any real leadership on the field because it was a simple plug-and-play system. What was there to direct? Block this lineman instead of that linebacker? That's dictated by scheme. Run outside or inside? Dictated by the opponent's reaction. Tebow only threw 271 passes in 2011, and I would wager that the majority of those had a first (and maybe only) option that was set in stone. Did Tebow ever audible? Would he have been allowed to?
I will make the easy argument that the Broncos simply took the decision-making out of Tebow's hands to minimize mistakes because they didn't trust him. The Broncos haven't been the only team to coddle their young quarterback on the field this way, but it was the most publicized in recent history. However, the system worked better than anyone thought it would. The defense kept the games relatively close until the final drive when Tebow's pure will and enthusiasm brought out the best in everyone around him. One successful series of plays later, and the Broncos are winning ball games.
Was that leadership? Winning ball games on the final drives may have had his fellow players celebrating with him, but they weren't following his lead. If the definition of a great leader is making great plays at crunch time, then one could also credit kicker Matt Prater with being a great leader. Players can either lead by example or by directing them on and off the field. Tebow wasn't capable of doing any of that in 2011.
Oh sure, he was a spiritual leader for the community, but that was more because the media and fans put him up on a pedestal. He wasn't out front as the spokesperson for the Broncos. He's a great teammate, but he wasn't the one leading the offense. How can he lead when he's simply following orders and his limitations are the reason why the offense is so basic? Tebow may one day get there, but he's currently not credible as a leader in the NFL.
Julie has been a football fanatic her entire life and has been rooting for the Denver Broncos since moving to Denver in 2001. She's very happy that Tim Tebow is no longer here, and is eager to see what Peyton Manning does with this offense.