Former NFL assistant impressed by Tebow

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For a guy who had one of the greatest careers in college football history, Tim Tebow sure has taken his share of public kidney punches lately.

Last week, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne(notes) said of the former Florida passer in an interview with Miami’s WQAM, “My judgment is that he’s not an NFL quarterback. I’ll leave it at that.” Henne later backtracked, provoking eye-rolls across America.

Tebow at Florida’s pro day on March 17.
(Phil Sandlin/AP Photo)

On Monday, it got worse: One of Tebow’s former teammates, Florida receiver Deonte Thompson, compared the mobile Tebow to successor John Brantley, telling the Orlando Sentinel, “You never know with Tim. He can bolt. You think he’s running but he’ll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready. With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, with time. You know, a real quarterback.”

I could spend an entire column piling on with similarly scornful comments I’ve heard from NFL talent evaluators, many of whom question whether the former Heisman Trophy winner has what it takes to make it in the league at quarterback. Last week, one AFC front-office executive went so far as to turn Tebow’s biggest perceived positive against him, saying the quarterback’s much-publicized embracing of Christian values and immense popularity made him a less attractive draft pick.

“I don’t want any part of him or the circus,” the executive said. “At some point, as a team, don’t you have to be concerned with what comes with him? The guy has never met a microphone he didn’t like, and he’s obviously got a message. I think he needs to go away and hide for awhile.”

I’ve asked numerous NFL coaches, scouts, general managers and other talent evaluators about Tebow, and most have expressed skepticism about his ability to play in a pro-style offense, deliberate delivery and arm strength, among other things.

However, I also talked to a respected quarterback coach and offensive strategist who gave Tebow an emphatic endorsement, and I’m going to share his thoughts here. After all, Marc Trestman actually worked with the kid, on the field and in the classroom, as part of Tebow’s preparation for the Senior Bowl and NFL scouting combine.

“Based on what I’ve seen,” Trestman says, “I believe that in the right environment, and with a chance to go through the right process, that Tim Tebow can develop into being an elite quarterback in the NFL.”

Trestman, the third-year head coach of the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes, has successfully mentored NFL quarterbacks such as Bernie Kosar, Steve Young and Rich Gannon. With Trestman serving as Oakland’s offensive coordinator in 2002, Gannon had an MVP season and the Raiders reached the Super Bowl.

Tim Tebow performs the long jump during the NFL Scouting Combine on February 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Most recently, Trestman has coached the Alouettes’ Anthony Calvillo (who can play, by the way) to consecutive CFL MVP awards; the veteran threw for 69 touchdowns against 19 interceptions while completing more than 70 percent of his passes during that span. All of this helps explain why Trestman’s name surfaced late last season as a potential head-coaching candidate in Buffalo and Oakland.

While working as North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator in 2005, Trestman had recruited Tebow, spending a long weekend with the passer and his father, Bob. A few months ago Bob Tebow called Trestman and asked him to help prepare Tim for the draft, and the coach and quarterback ended up spending about 30 hours together, roughly four-fifths of that time in the classroom.

“We sat in a meeting room before the Senior Bowl, and the first thing I found out was that he was extremely knowledgeable football-wise,” Trestman says. “He has an ability to talk football at a high level in terms of protections, pass routes, adjustments and concepts – basically all the things an NFL quarterback has to be able to talk about. It was easy for him to go to the [chalk]board and communicate with me on what I would call a ‘pro’ level.

“So the first thought was, ‘I could get excited about going into a meeting room every day coaching Tim Tebow, and he’d be excited about being coached. With a guy like that, there’s going to be a very high standard of performance in your meeting room, and that’s exciting, because that’s how football teams get better. It starts in the quarterback meeting room.”

When Trestman began working with Tebow on the field – before the combine, they had several sessions at various Nashville-area high schools – the former Florida star (who had also worked with another ex-NFL quarterback coach, Zeke Bratkowski) had already commenced the much-celebrated tweaking of his throwing motion.

“He knew exactly what he wanted to do,” Trestman recalls. “He wanted to shorten it up – bring the ball higher, earlier. He didn’t want to change it dramatically; he just wanted to tweak it. He wanted to shorten his backswing – that’s the analogy I’d use.

“Once we got onto the field, what was easily seen was his ability to be coached. You could tell him something once – ‘Do this drop. Do this with the ball’ – and he’d instantly be able to do it.”

Trestman was impressed with Tebow’s arm strength, release and grasp of the game. All the talk about how Florida coach Urban Meyer and his staff failed to prepare Tebow for the next level, to Trestman, is a fallacy.

“Where I was pleasantly surprised was, I don’t think the job they did at Florida coaching him has been given enough credit,” Trestman says. “Because he is a very knowledgeable quarterback when it comes to the science of the game. I can’t speak for Urban Meyer, but this was not a guy who was unprepared. It wasn’t just me teaching him. It was him reporting, giving input. It was a dynamic experience.”

Trestman also took aim at a couple of other stigmas attached to Tebow – that he will struggle taking snaps from under center (the quarterback’s much-lamented bobbles at the first Senior Bowl practice notwithstanding) and that he has a flawed throwing motion.

“Everything I did with him was under center, and he was amazingly coachable,” Trestman says. “He picked it up immediately. It’s a non-factor. And the thing about Tim Tebow is, he throws the ball overhand. This wasn’t a Philip Rivers(notes) or a Bernie Kosar-type situation.

“Every quarterback in the league has the ability to make awkward throws. They use all different kinds of throwing motions. But at the end of the day, when they’ve got to get it out, they get it out fast. And I think so will Tim Tebow. He’ll figure it out. When he throws it, it comes out spinning.”

As a coach who has had great success running the West Coast Offense, Trestman naturally directed much of his focus on improving Tebow’s footwork, something he believes will help the quarterback get the ball out more efficiently.

“When you speed up his feet, everything speeds up,” Trestman says. “That’s where it all starts with a quarterback. When he works quicker with his feet, he’ll feel a sense of urgency. Everything else – his motion, windup, delivery – will get faster because of it.”

Most of all, Trestman stresses, the kid is a quick study. That, to him, will ultimately convince the people running an NFL franchise to draft Tebow as a quarterback – and, Trestman believes, to try to develop him into a potential star.

“He’s come so far in five weeks – I can’t even imagine where he’ll be by the start of the season,” Trestman says. “Because this is the thing: Tim Tebow will figure it out. He’s always found a way to figure it out, and he’ll do it in the NFL.

“Look, the guy played four years in the best conference in college football, and he dominated. He was durable, dependable and came up big in every big game he played. He had one of the highest passer ratings in the country. He was the face of the program. He has the ‘it’ factor, and he has swagger. He’s charismatic and unbelievably coachable in the classroom and on the field. He spins the ball when he throws it, and he has more than adequate arm strength.

“Is that enough? Every quarterback’s journey is different. But there are a lot of coaches like me who would love the opportunity to coach him. What coordinator or quarterback coach would not love the opportunity, the challenge, to try to develop Tim Tebow?”

I’m not sure where Tebow will ultimately get drafted, or in which round, but I do know this: If no NFL team wants him, he’ll be welcomed in Montreal with open arms.


Longtime Niners fan. And I think you have great NFL insight and understanding most of the time. I disagree with your assessment of the 49ers. The GM wasn’t the one who has been doing the good moves recently, it is the prodigal nephew of our former great owner Eddie DeBartolo. It is he who brought in the fiery Mike Singletary. I am sure Jed is quite capable, much more so than his father. Let’s give him a couple more years. I think we got something here. Jed’s the man. Spread the word on our young Jed, he’s going to make us a dynasty.

Hollywood, Calif.

While I stand by my belief that Scot McCloughan did a lot of good things during his tenure, and that he was the driving force behind Singletary’s promotion, I hear what you’re saying. I’m impressed that Jed York speaks regularly with DeBartolo, and largely because of that I’ll do my best to retain the optimism I’ve felt since Jed’s rise to prominence in the organization (and the de-emphasis of his father’s day-to-day influence). Upon further investigation into this situation, I believe Jed has a genuinely high regard for McCloughan on a personal level and, if anything, may have let those feelings keep him from making a cold business decision months earlier. I also think that may be a reason why the organization has remained largely silent (and, on Monday, intentionally vague) in regard to McCloughan’s departure; another reason, I believe, is that York and his employees are following the advice of legal counsel.

I’d largely agree with your assessment of the Niners GM with the exception of taking Alex Smith over fellow Cal grad and current best young QB in football Aaron Rodgers(notes). It’s simply not a pick he can ever live down and something that should be in your article.

San Francisco

While I’d be the last one to shy away from ramming my glowing portrayals of Rodgers’ greatness down the throats of people who read this column – the franchise that drafted Alex Smith ahead of him included – I believe the bulk of the blame should go to then-coach Mike Nolan, who had unquestioned personnel control at the time of the ’05 draft, rather than to McCloughan, who wasn’t named GM until nearly three years later. I also know that McCloughan, who is close with Packers general manager Ted Thompson, helped convince his former Seahawks colleague to take Rodgers with the 24th overall selection during a draft-day phone call, even though Green Bay had some dude named Favre as its starter.

Your story on Big Ben. Thank you! I have actually been trying to make this point for all athletes that make the news in this fashion. And over the years of making such statements I have lost track of the number of blogs that I have been banned from. There are a lot of people out there that don’t want to hear about things like reason. Good luck with your email this week. Just my guess, but I think you’re going to get a lot of them making comments about your mentality, idiocy, blindness, and don’t forget the racist ones for, “sticking up for a white guy!” The last ones won’t even figure out that the article isn’t about Ben, specifically, but about the judicial system. Good luck!

Dean Barber
Atlantic, Iowa

Thanks, and remember – you have to do a whole lot more than call me an idiot (in grammatically correct fashion or otherwise) to get banned from Trippin’.

Michael, I don’t always agree with what you write however, that is what makes this country so great … the freedom to disagree on a subject and not have to worry about being put in prison or otherwise being discriminated against for your views. I spent 22 years in the service of our country to ensure we have this right and would fight and die for that freedom. You receive a lot of flak from people about your opinions. I say let them vent: They have the same right as anyone to express their views. Besides, your replies are priceless! After reading your article on Ben Roethlisberger(notes) I find myself in total agreement with you! I am so tired of journalists and others who try and convict a person when the first reports of any possible misconduct are made public. I am reminded of the Duke lacrosse team and the public vilification that they received before it was proved that the allegations made against them were unfounded. I thought your article was very effectively written and well thought out. Keep up the good work! I would also like to extend an apology to Bob from Barrie, Ontario, and all Canadians. That hockey game was great and the Canadians richly deserve the gold medal. Please forgive the boorish actions of a very few of our countrymen: they do not speak for all Americans. I would also like to thank our neighbors to the north for all that they have done and continue to do with our soldiers on a daily basis … as much courage as it takes to go across the middle for a catch with the full knowledge of becoming the meat of a linebacker sandwich, that does not compare to the courage that all our soldiers, American, Canadian and all the rest of our allies, perform on a daily basis. God bless them all! Also, please forgive my writing. Unlike yourself, writing is not one of my stronger suits. Finally &helip; Niners rule, Cowboys drool!!

William Overling
Cheyenne, Wyo.

Your writing is rock-solid, and your service (and those of so many brave Americans and Canadians) is sincerely appreciated. And for your sake, I hope J from Hollywood is right about Jed York.

Mike I find it funny how you ask us to give Ben the benefit of the doubt but for the most part you media types don’t give the same benefit to African-American athletes when they are accused of transgressions. When are the double-standards going to end? Please give the same courtesy and respect to non-European athletes when these type of allegations are made against them.


OK, here we go … I understand the frustration expressed by you and other readers in this regard, but I also resent being lumped in with “you media types” (which, in and of itself, is a form of stereotyping). As Dean suggested, the article was meant to stick up for the foundation of our judicial system, and I would absolutely express the same sentiment (and have done so in the past) on behalf of an African-American or other minority accused of a crime.

Where was this column when Mike Vick was reportedly involved in dog-fighting? He was sentenced before we the USA knew he was factually involved. He was convicted in the public eye before his court date? Where was the wait for response for Pacman Jones when he was in the area of the off-field problems he was convicted before he was even set for trial? I don’t condone dog-fighting and I totally disagree with Pacman’s punishment but where was the shield of publicity to the readers of sports when these guys were being viewed as menace to the NFL? Where was the public conviction and press to Matt Jones(notes) who was pulled over with cocaine enough to distribute? Why didn’t we convict him on that? His punishment came at the end of the year when their (Jaguars) season was over and done with? I believed Ben the first go around in Nevada, but two women? I wouldn’t be surprised if more women came out the woods with allegations. He has a drinking problem and he needs help. Are we saying that possession of cocaine and rape/assault is OK and dog-fighting and club fights is wrong? My sister was raped and assaulted at the age of 15. This is a serious problem to be included in. I am from Pittsburgh, I Love the Steelers probably more than anyone but wrong is wrong and Ben was flat out wrong!

Laurel, Md.

First of all, my deepest sympathies to your sister – that’s truly horrific. I absolutely see your point in the case of Matt Jones, though in fairness he was a far less prominent player than the others you mentioned. As for Vick, if it makes you feel any better, here was the first column I wrote after leaving Sports Illustrated to join Yahoo! Sports in August of ’07, and here is some of the reaction it provoked. Then, 18 months later, I wrote this about Vick and got these responses.

Just a quick note to say that I loved your tongue in cheek article defending Big Ben’s “Right to Party ‘til They Convict Me!” attitude! Excellant and well done, and to all the haters that will no doubt excoriate you (excoriate! Whoa look at me go!) for appearing to condone Ben’s latest escapade, I say this: C’mon man! Mike was kidding! Don’t you get it?” The tip-off is the inclusion and seeming endorsement of Ben’s attorney saying that Ben is “completely innocent.” Ben isn’t partly innocent. He isn’t mostly innocent. He isn’t by and large innocent, no sir he’s completely innocent. What more proof does anybody need. Mike knows that’s a knee slapper, and that’s why he included it. You morons didn’t pick up on it. Mike knows there is nothing funnier than imagining Ben sitting around with his pals and saying “Look fellas, I’m facing a civil trial for rape, I think it would be a real good idea for me to hit a college bar in Midgeville, Georgia to see what the talent is like there! After all, that’s my right and I haven’t been convicted of anything! And we’re not riding motorcycles so it’s all good and responsible! Image is everything, and nothing can go wrong here! Lets hit it!” Mike gets how ridiculous that makes Ben look. Too bad you all don’t understand what they call “satire.” He was kidding. Either that, or Mr. Silver is as big a dope as Ben is. And I’m sure that’s not the case. I only wish I was “completely sure,” if you follow me.

Omaha, Neb.

While I completely disagree with the premise, and I urge you (and everyone) to let the legal process play out before reaching conclusions about Roethlisberger’s guilt or innocence, I do appreciate the over-the-top sarcasm. However, let’s get one thing clear: No one, even in jest, is allowed to call my readers morons – except yours truly.

You stated, “I might be old fashion.” And I laugh in your face. This coming from a guy who wrote a column using lyrics making fun of a vehicular manslaughter with Donte Stallworth. And now Michael Silver attempting at being a well-abiding citizen and standing up for Big Ben. LOL. By the way Big Ben still has an outstanding case against him for a very similar thing. There is an ol’ saying, Once is a shame, Twice, I am to blame. (Author unknown) And Kobe, the guy who paid his accuser millions to stay off the witness stand. Big Ben is an idiot. And at this point in his career especially with his court case pending, should be on his very best behavior. I think he is guilty of something. Even if it is only abusing his professional stature and trying to bully himself onto women.

Peter Mazur
San Diego

OK, first of all, what I actually wrote was, “Call me old-fashioned.” If I ever describe myself as “old fashion,” every English teacher I ever had will be groaning out loud. (GOL). Secondly, the Stallworth song parody was intended to make fun of the ridiculously light sentence for such a heinous offense, in my opinion. Finally, go ahead and laugh in my cyber-face, but kindly try to keep your drool off the computer screen. Thank you.

Michael, I enjoy your writing, wit and sarcasm, but I have one request … Answer emails from people who ask questions. You have too much love-hate going on. To my real point … much to my consternation I have been a life long Browns fan. For the first time in Browns II, I have confidence in the leadership. They have been low key yet mildly aggressive in free agency, 11 draft picks, some talent on the roster. Put on your psychic hat and tell me how long until we are at least a playoff team?


Your confidence is justified. Mike Holmgren has played a major role in turning around two franchises, and Tom Heckert is a smart, capable general manager. Further, I think that sometime within the next 10 months, Holmgren will end up doing what he does best – coaching the team – after replacing Eric Mangini with himself, Pat Riley style. That will mean the days of offensive anemia are over, and hopefully the franchise will do right by guys like linebacker D’Qwell Jackson(notes) and build the defense around them. My psychic hat (which, incidentally, looks like this is on; the Browns will make the playoffs in 2011, Holmgren’s first full season as their coach.

Michael Silver covers the NFL for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Mogotxt, Twitter and Facebook. Also check out Send Michael a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010