August 26, 2011
As our own Chris Chase pointed out recently, it's been all au courant to blast Tim Tebow(notes) and his future as an NFL quarterback these days, and everybody seems to have jumped on board the bandwagon — from an unnamed (but highly placed) member of the Denver Broncos organization in a recent story by Yahoo's Mike Silver, to CBS analyst and former quarterback Boomer Esiason, to an ever-growing and more general group of folks who have done distinct 180s on the Tebow story in recent months. There was a time when a cottage industry of Tim Tebow excuse-a-holics ruled the wires — now, most have turned.
One noted voice that still seems to be on Tebow's side belongs to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees(notes), who was recently asked by XX Sports Radio in San Diego for his take on the Tebow experiment — can a quarterback with an elongated throwing motion, a limited history with defensive reads, and a run-first mentality make in the NFL? Or, should Tebow's mechanics be altered to a large degree?
It's hard to change a guy's throwing motion at this level in the game. If you can get a guy in middle school and high school, there are certain things you can probably tweak. Once you get him past college it is really hard to do that. Each guy is different. Each guy throws the ball a little bit different and has [his] own style.
I think there are certain fundamentals that you would like to have, and in the end your goal is to try to get the ball out as quickly as possible when you talk about the quick release, but obviously for what he didn't do a whole lot of in college was the straight drop-back passing [where] you stand in the pocket and go through your progressions and that kind of thing.
That's something you are required to do a lot in the NFL, so I think for him it's just a matter of repetition and experience. The more he gets of that, the better he will get at those things. Obviously, the guy has a ton of ability, a ton of athletic ability, leadership ability. It seems like he has all the intangibles now -- it's just a matter of him getting the reps and experience he needs to refine his game a little bit.
Brees knows of what he speaks more than most on this subject — he's silenced his own series of skeptics. He played in a pseudo-spread system at Purdue, and while there weren't specific questions about his throwing motion, some did wonder if he had the size (six foot , 209 pounds) and arm to be an elite NFL quarterback. Thirty-five thousand passing yards, 235 passing touchdowns, five Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl ring later, Brees has a life free of doubters.
Me, I'm not so sure when it comes to Tebow. I wonder if any quarterback without a quick release can excel in an NFL that has more nickel and dime defenses, where the spacing between defenders is shorter, and the coverage windows close so much more quickly.
Tebow is an athlete that has a place in the pros, of that I have no doubt. You don't lead an NFL team in rushing touchdowns with only three starts in your rookie year, as Tebow did for the Broncos last season, without considerable skill. The question is whether Tebow is an NFL quarterback, not whether he is an NFL player.
Brees is absolutely right, though. If the end goal is to turn Tebow into an NFL quarterback, a fairly hellacious amount of patience will be required.
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