Saturday, February 28, 2009

BCS Title Game, Tebow - Friday, January 9, 2009

BCS Title Game

So that was a very good game last night, not quite to the level of Texas USC in ’05, but good nevertheless. I really had no idea who would win the game before it started. When it did get going, I thought that Oklahoma looked clearly better than Florida, then they couldn’t punch it at the goal line. Incidentally, I would have made the same call that Stoops did there; going for it was a good move. It was early in the game and it didn’t really seem like it was going to be the defensive struggle that it turned out to be. Also the other goal line stand that Florida had was a fluky deal. Bradford put that ball exactly where it needed to be and the receiver mishandled it leading to a crazy interception. It could have easily been 21-7 Oklahoma and the game changes significantly at that point. But it didn’t and Florida made great plays and won the game. Their defense tightened significantly and put tons of pressure on Bradford and did not let Brown get going after he had a torrid start. Pretty impressive effort by Florida, they certainly earned that win.

Insect Quickness
Percy Harvin is a damn electric player and has a chance to be a gamebreaker in the NFL. I see no difference between him and Reggie Bush except that he’s probably a little faster and he’s probably more of a natural receiver. Anyway, he’s very talented. It’s too bad that we never got to see that guy Jeff Demps get free in the open field because if what the announcers say is true (that he ran a 10.02 100 meters), then I would have loved to have seen him streak by everyone. That’s a patently absurd time; it’s literally world class speed.

NFL Tebow
I was driving up to Duvall the night of the Heisman ceremony for a friend’s Christmas party and I was listening to the lead up to the event on the radio. They (Mel Kiper and some other guy) were interviewing each of the Heisman candidates and when Tebow came on, they talked about the possibility of switching positions in the NFL. Kiper asked Tebow how good his hands were (Tebow answered that he catches the snap pretty good out of the shotgun… ha ha ha). The point was, Kiper seemed to think that Tebow would be a good H-Back/Tight End type (he compares him to Frank Wycheck, if you remember him). Tebow was good natured about it but wasn’t really interested in talking about it. While they were talking, I was thinking, “Man, why so many questions? The dude has been a good QB for a couple years, let him show scouts etc what he can do and I’m sure he’ll be fine.” I didn’t see much of Florida this year (or last, really) to have an opinion on Tebow, but I did watch this entire game with the purpose of seeing if he really is a good QB, or a QB that projects to be a good QB at the NFL level. After seeing him play last night, in what was hailed as a classic Tebow type game (minus the interceptions, which we’ll get to) I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way he is an NFL QB. He’s a great QB for the scheme that Florida runs, he seems to be a great rah-rah leader, he seems to be an inspirational leader who leads by his play and drive on the field, he seems to be a non-prick leader who everyone seems to love, he clearly has mobility and strength, he has great determination and a sense for the moment… all of those are great qualities, but I don’t think that he has enough qualities, right now, to be a successful QB in the NFL. Here are the issues:

  • Every single snap he took in the game was from the shotgun, every one. While people will same the same about Bradford, it wouldn’t be true. Bradford was under center about 45-50% of the time last night and threw from under center (and in I-formation) just as often as he handed the ball off. I realize that some teams run a lot of shotgun stuff in the NFL, but none of them, not one, run their QBs like Tebow runs. They only do that when they run that Wildcat formation stuff. My point is, he has way more to learn (or unlearn) as an NFL QB, moreso than guys like Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell who also run offenses almost exclusively out of the shotgun, but who throw it 95% of the time.
  • He has a very slow, very deliberate release. It was exacerbated in this game because on the other sideline sits Sam Bradford who has a very quick, compact release. Anyway, the problem with Tebow’s release is that it alerts defenders that he’s going to throw and where he’s going to throw. Because of this, he’ll have gigantic interceptions numbers in the NFL, even if he only threw two all year in the SEC (but we’ll get to that in a minute too)
  • He has well below average arm strength and must put his whole body into throws.
    I thought this was one of the weirder things about his game. He is such a strong guy and is physically huge, but his arm is weak. It was exposed for sure in that one pass that was picked off early in the game. Tebow tried to throw from the middle of the field (while he was in the pocket) to the sideline. The ball took forever to get there, it was poorly read (Oklahoma was in a zone and he didn’t see the DB), and the guy jumped the route and picked it off easily. It was the only throw of that type in the entire game that he attempted and it completely exposed just how weak his arm is. In Florida’s offense, there is no need for him to complete those types of throws. In the NFL, those types of throws are made repeatedly. He could learn to read the play better, but I don’t think that he’ll be able to throw it with enough velocity to be successful… oddly, it looked almost identical to the throw that Tarvaris Jackson made against Philly that Asante Samuel took to the house. So I suppose the argument could be made that if Tarvaris Jackson is in the NFL as a QB, so should Tebow… that doesn’t help Tebow’s cause… also, while he threw for 28 tds and 2 ints on the year, if all of the games looked like the Oklahoma game (in terms of the types of plays that they ran) I’m not surprised at those numbers. His passes are all “safe” passes and I doubt that any of them traveled any further than 25 yards in the air.
  • Well over half of Tebow’s completed throws come from designed sprint outs
    This goes to point no. 3. He rarely tried to throw from the pocket (except for that weird 1940s football card jump pass for a TD from the 5). Sprint outs are done occasionally in the NFL, but they are not a significant part of any NFL game plan because it essentially eliminates half of the field for the offense and also because NFL linebackers and linemen are ridiculously fast. All of them. So the play will get run down.
  • He locks on to receivers. This is a problem that can he can be coached out of and not a problem that is exclusive to Tebow. All QBs do this to some extent. Even in the NFL.
    NFL personnel types need to compare a guy to another guy in order to project his future in the league. So, as a QB, who is Tebow? Is he Donovan McNabb? He’s probably the same size as McNabb, and possesses the same type of running ability that McNabb used to possess, but his arm is significantly weaker than McNabb’s. Of the starting (and some backups) QBs in the league, there is not one player who Tebow remotely resembles. I suppose maybe Alex Smith from SF because he ran the same offense, but he’s not nearly as tough as Tebow, but Smith has a far better arm (and Smith’s arm is not strong). Tebow is a big guy with toughness, heart, running ability, and leadership qualities, but he has a weak arm and a quirky delivery that will lead to turnovers. He will not be a successful starting QB in the NFL, it won’t happen.

I think that he certainly is an NFL-caliber athlete, but just not a QB. Kiper, and all of the other scout-type NFL draft people (and apparently NFL personnel) are right to pick him apart. Ego is the only thing getting in Tebow’s way at this point. He should be able to see that he does not have the attributes, physically, to be an NFL QB. If he realizes that he won’t be a QB and commits himself to be a TE, then he’ll be in good shape and probably be drafted higher than if he demands that he be a QB. I think he’s 6’3 240, which is a pretty good sized TE prospect. I bet he runs the 40 in the 4.7s and benches 225 like 28-30 times. I’m sure he can block and I know that he can fight for yards and I’m sure he’s got good hands. He could be a pro-bowl type of TE if he dedicated himself to it. He will never be a quality NFL QB. So there you go. I know that it would be hard for him to switch from being a de facto leader of a team as the QB, but others have had to set that aside (Hines Ward, Antwan Randel-El, John Lynch etc).

To wrap it up, I know that I’m not the first to say these things about him, but I never really sat down and watched a game with it in mind. And my mind is made up.

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