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Still don't believe the Tebow hype

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  January 13, 2012 11:14 AM

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While offering up a quick link to today's media column on the potential for massive Patriots-Broncos ratings for CBS Saturday night, I might as well become the last person in America who owns both a keyboard and an opinion to chime in on the phenomenon driving those ratings.

I was wrong about Tim Tebow.

I thought last Sunday's wild-card matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers would go down as his only career postseason start as an NFL quarterback. But Tebow, Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos played an inspired game against the limping Steelers, and from what I understand he'll be getting that second career playoff start against the Patriots this Saturday. Someone really ought to cover this. Sounds intriguing.

But while I was wr-wr-wrong about his one-and-done, I remain convinced I'm correct about this:

Tebow is no one's long-term answer at quarterback.

I suspect John Fox, who has done a remarkable job of catering to Tebow's strengths while wearing a perpetually bemused look following their improbable victories, would tell you as much if you could slip him some truth serum. You know John Elway, as gracious as he has been, is perplexed by how Tebow, a quarterback who completes less than 50 percent of his passes, has mechanics that give quarterback coaches migraines, and struggles to make his reads in what is said to be a rudimentary offense, is doing this. Bet you he'd trade a whole roster of Tebows for one Andrew Luck.

(Somewhere, Skip Bayless just fainted at the thought of a whole roster of Tebows.)

Hey, I'd be cool to be wrong about this too. No matter where you stand on his outward faith, Tebow is an extremely likable player and personality. It's fun to watch someone from a different mold, with an original style, play quarterback, even if he gives quarterback coaches migraines with his mechanics. The NFL can use more genuine uniqueness, and he is a tremendous runner. There's a place for him in the league, and I'll always wonder how Bill Belichick would have used him had he ended up with the Patriots in the 2010 draft.

But that place is not at quarterback, not for the long-term and perhaps not beyond this week. Whether or not rumors of Brady Quinn preparing to get playing time against Pittsburgh were true, the fact was that Tebow had played so poorly in the previous couple of games it was actually a logical possibility that he could be replaced in passing downs by one of the great quarterback flops in recent years.

Doesn't that tell you all you need to know?

The great times and comebacks and 80-yard touchdown passes in overtime are amazing. But they are more the result of small sample-sizes, coincidences, and foolish, undisciplined opponents than his own talents or determination. And Tebow's lows are so low -- he was 6 for 22 against the Chiefs just two weeks ago -- that the Broncos with him at the helm will remain in a cycle of the occasional improbable comebacks sandwiched around crushing defeats. And those improbabilities will eventually give way to probability. A quarterback who can't throw cannot and will not win in the long-term in the NFL.

The Broncos have an intriguing player in Tebow. But they still need a quarterback.

Now, would my opinion change should Tebow and Thomas and Matt Prater and Von Miller pull of another NFL miracle Saturday night?

I could give you a confident "no" right now. But really, that's a question I'm not going to have to answer.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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