Two things happened that made me think of this title post.
The game-winning touchdown run was one.
The other was something that the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said about Tim Tebow after analyzing his performance in the Denver Broncos 17-13 victory over the New York Jets in Mile High Stadium. I’m paraphrasing but…
“The Broncos spread the field, gave Tebow an extra blocker and essentially let Tim go out there and play streetball.” — Mike Mayock
Interesting. That’s usually the type of description and analysis that’s reserved for quarterbacks who are mobile, who have the tendency to look run first, then pass. To be frank, I couldn’t remember hearing that comparison made about anyone other than a black quarterback, but I didn’t take the statement from Mayock with any sort of racial implication.
However, it did make me think of Vince Young.
Do we remember the 2006 season? Let’s see if this begins to sound familiar…
After a slow start and some learning pains, Vince Young stepped in for Kerry Collins in week four after the starter had a 0-3 record (Kyle Orton went 1-4.) Vince finished his rookie season with an 8-5 record, including six consecutive wins (Tebow is now 4-1.) Of those wins, four of them were fourth quarter comebacks, including three straight fourth quarter comebacks. Yet Vince’s completion percentage was 51%. Tebow’s is currently 44%.
Jeff Fisher molded the offense around the skill set of Vince Young; John Fox is molding the offense around Tim Tebow…but this is no different than Tom Mora molding an offense around Peyton Manning’s skill set (everything looks the same, three-wide set, one tight end and one tailback.) Bill Belicheat does this for Tom Brady, and Sean Payton does this Drew Brees (spread, five-wide sets) as well. The notion that Tebow is some anomaly for having an offense crafted to his skill set is just foolish.
It’s a conundrum that many folks in the football industry face. There’s always pressure to try and emulate what their vision of what the game’s “supposed” to look like.
Find the next Peyton Manning.
You could spend the next 5-10 years trying to find another Peyton Manning (and the Colts will probably do it in April 2012), but more often than not, you’re not that fortunate to find that prized gift. Coaches who are worth the paychecks they earn will find a way to get the best out of their players. Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco and Chan Gailey in Buffalo are two recent examples.
Vince Young and Tim Tebow are both national championship, Heisman Trophy-winning (we all know that ain’t Reggie Bush’s Heisman. Vince proved that in the ’06 title game…Vince just ain’t tripping on it right now) quarterbacks who not only brought out the best in their teams, but were also emotional leaders who were revered by those who played with them. The defense always played inspired, because they know they have a QB laying it all on the line.
So what’s the difference now?
For all the slander, ridicule and controversy that has clouded our perception of Vince Young, the man has a record of 30-17 as a starting quarterback. That’s a 63.8% winning percentage. Better than one Tony Romo (62.9%), Eli Manning (58.9%) and Michael Vick. (56.9%.) The wonder will always be: what if Vince Young would’ve kept his head on straight in Tennessee? What if Jeff Fisher could’ve worked it out (some would say he didn’t believe in him) with his quarterback? Fisher was always more fond of Matt Leinart, yet, owner Bud Adams wanted Vince Young…remember that.
We’re going to face a similar issue with the Broncos and Tebow. Tebow is not John Fox’s and John Elway’s “boy,” if you will. The previous regime (Josh McDaniels) selected Tebow in the first round. At what point will this organization begin looking in a different direction, even if Tim keeps winning? The Titans are no closer toward achieving their goal of a championship than they were with Vince taking the snaps, and they just drafted another (Jake Locker at ten) to become their next franchise QB. The Broncos are now 5-5 and one Oakland Raider loss from first place in the AFC West.
You’ll hear all the pundits and prognosticators praise Tebow for being a winner. The praise will come from everywhere. No longer will the hate be spewed directly at #15. Just remember Vince did this before, Tebow’s doing it now, and another quarterback down the line will do it again.
Because winners win, simple and plain.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”