Here’s the thing with celebrated rookie quarterbacks. Teams always say they don’t want to rush rookie QBs along. They always say they want them to ride the pine and learn before getting thrown out to the wolves. Why, ideally, the poor child wouldn’t see the field for five good years! Teams always preach handling rookie QB’s cautiously, particularly ones as raw as Tim Tebow, Broncos rookie QB and the Savoir of Humanity.
But here’s the thing about rookie QB’s. Teams almost NEVER practice what they preach when it comes to being patient. The idea that any highly drafted quarterback will ride the pine for a full year in the NFL is now a laughable one. There are no more Steve McNairs. Three QB’s were drafted in the first round in 2009. All of them were starting by the end of the year, and one of them (Mark Sanchez) took his team to the AFC title game. There isn’t time for rookie QB’s to sit anymore because too much money is involved. More important, too much anticipation is involved. Your team drafts a QB that high, and everyone is naturally dying to see him play. Fans are. Owners are. And coaches, though they may say otherwise, also are. A rookie QB is a Christmas present that you can’t bring yourself to keep wrapped on the shelf forever and ever.
We’ve been told constantly that Tim Tebow will be an exception to this. Tebow is so far behind his rookie counterparts, and so far behind in his mechanics, that the idea of starting him at any point in the season sounds unreasonable. No way he starts this season. No way he sees the field except in gadget packages, right?
Tebow will be starting for the Broncos by year’s end. Kyle Orton is the better QB in Denver right now (and may prove to be a better QB when the careers of both men are finished). No matter. The Broncos have already suffered a horrible injury to Elvis Dumervil, and nagging injuries to their running corps. They were a team that overachieved at the beginning of last year and promptly came back to Earth by the end of it all. They may luck out and go 10-6 this year, but it isn’t likely. It’s much more likely that they’ll be an average team that finds itself out of the playoff hunt by December, if not sooner.
And when that happens, why wouldn’t you start Tebow? Why wouldn’t you throw him out there and show him why the changes he needs to make are so vital to his success? If you stink already, you may as well get Tebow out there to get him out of reverting to old habits during the course of a game. Tebow is a player who will never lack passion or confidence, so there’s little risk in damaging him mentally by doing this.
The best quarterbacks are always the ones who find a way to succeed while improving. Peyton Manning did this. Donovan McNabb did this. Just because Tebow is less polished than those two (and, compared to McNabb, not by as much as you think) doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be placed into a Lucite box for two years. Too many people want to see what he can do. Not enough people will be able to resist sneaking a peek under the hood. Not fans. Not Pat Bowlen. And not even Josh McDaniels.
Tebow starts by Week 12. Book it.