Minutes after he put the finishing touches on another thrilling comeback win, Tim Tebow sat on the NFL Network set with Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin for what quickly became one of my favorite postgame interviews of all time.
It was like watching the cast of 60 Minutes interview a third-grader about the European debt crisis. Or, better yet, like watching the cast of 60 Minutes interview me about the European debt crisis.
This isn’t to say Tebow sounded like a third-grader, but his answers were so simple — almost too simple — to questions that sought some enlightening explanation for how he is slowly turning the NFL on its head.
Eisen & Co. were clearly befuddled, bewildered and bedazzled by the Broncos’ 17-13 win over the Jets, and even moreso by the fact that Tebow has gone 4-1 as a starter and pulled the once-hapless Broncos into the playoff picture. How has he managed such stunning results while being so unremarkable by the traditional standards for an NFL quarterback? His stats: 172 total yards, only 104 passing, and only nine completions out of 20 attempts.
How is this possible? The NFL Network crew was convinced there has to be a reason, but all they got from Tebow was the same few lines he’s been telling journalists since his high school days.”God is good. It’s a team game. We played hard and believed in each other. We’re just taking it one day at a time trying to get better.”
There’s nothing worse for a media member to hear. Refusing to answer questions would be more exciting.
But you know what? He’s right. Tebow is exposing a myth about the NFL, one week at a time: IT ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED.
The discussion around Tebow has always revolved around how he would fit into the pro quarterback mold. The answer now is obvious. He doesn’t fit at all, and he doesn’t have to.
He needs to run the option. He needs spread formations. He needs to be in the shotgun. He needs to have the ability to improvise. He needs his teammates to not play like their hands and feet are tied together. When he has those things, he can win, and that’s the only stat that matters.
His best moments are very early in games (when the Broncos are prone to running a spread attack that they immediately abandon) and very late in games (when they take the helter-skelter, figure-it-out approach). In between, when they run up the middle twice and throw on third down, Tebow is pedestrian. Let him do what he knows how to do, and he’ll be fine. He isn’t Peyton Manning, and anyone who tries to make him be Peyton Manning is a dumbass.
And guess what else? It isn’t all about the quarterback. Tebow isn’t a one-man wrecking crew. His defense held the Jets in check, made key stops and even scored a touchdown. Britton Colquitt punted his ass off (yea, I said it), and the line kept Tebow out of trouble.
Denver isn’t perfect, but it’s clear this is a different team from the one we saw earlier this season. They’re playing harder because they believe they can win. They believe they can win because their quarterback is exciting. He’s exciting because he’s unconventional. And the fact that he’s unconventional and successful is blowing the minds of people who think you either win the NFL’s way or you don’t win at all.
Every time he ends a touchdown or win by kneeling in prayer, Tebow might as well be raising a giant middle finger to “the NFL’s way” — respectfully, of course.
There’s more than one way to be a successful quarterback. Being Tebow is one of them.