A review of the past NFL season could not be complete if it didn’t include anything on Tim Tebow. This whole Tim Tebow thing has been a very interesting ride. On Sunday I watched and thought “wow, he has regressed, people now have film on him” it’s sort of like the “wildcat” play in football. The first time Belicheck saw it, he was shocked! Second time he saw it, they routed their opponents. So what are we to make of this 8 or 9 week Tebow roller coaster?
I think to start off, we first have to go back to 12 weeks ago when we all said “hey, in 12 weeks, we will see what he is” I think that Tebow has proven that he is still what most of us thought he was – a very limited passer, a good football player. The question is now, where do you balance the two? Now, I will say that there is a stretch and I’ve gone public with saying this that there was a stretch for three games where Tebow made drastic improvements as a passer, as a quarterback, seeing the field, making the runs, getting the ball off with better rhythm. I think all of that ended off during the second half of the New England game. Since then, he has regressed back to the type of player that he was in his first couple of weeks. But here is the thing that shocked me about Sunday – and I saw this coming on in Buffalo.
When Tim plays bad, from a passing perspective, he has made up for it with the intangible qualities he brings, however you want to call them: leadership, energy, enthusiasm, passion, belief, hope…whatever it is that he infuses into a team – which in undeniable because we saw it happen, that was gone from the 2nd half against Buffalo. Does he perhaps doubt himself now? Absolutely and I’d say it was gone all day on Sunday. At one point during the season – I think it might’ve been after their incredible win over my Jets, I asked myself “At what point does he [Tim Tebow] realize how limited he is?” I think he’s lived his entire football life thinking that the “other stuff” was enough and that passing is a commodity. But at what point does he realize and say to himself “man, what they are saying is true! I really can’t throw the ball and I really can’t do what I am being asked to do at this level”
I honestly think that hit him in the 2nd half of the Buffalo game where he realized that he had stopped getting away with some of the stuff he had been getting away with. Then on Sunday, you had a limited passer – let’s call him the most limited passer in the league, a title which I think not many people even the Tim Tebow apologist wouldn’t argue with, that usually makes up for it with a lot of “other stuff” Sunday, it was a limited passer with none of the “other stuff” I was talking with a couple of buddies yesterday on this very topic and we commented on how good of a job CBS did on showing him on the sidelines, showing him in the huddle, showing him with his teammates and yet in all those shots, he lacked that energy, there wasn’t that enthusiasm, there wasn’t that passion for the biggest game of the year!! And I truly believe that that comes with self-doubt. I could really see it in his body language and in his play, that something has happened where he said to himself “wow, this for the first time is too big for me. I really can’t do the things they say I can’t do and the other stuff isn’t enough. I think it’s sucked the life out of him and on Sunday, you could see it suck the life out of that offense.
But remember, he’s was a Marion Barber play away from being on a 4 game losing streak and as I’ve argued on my rants, I think he’s gotten really great breaks where he’s basically played every single big game at home: Chicago at home, New England at home, Sunday’s game at home, the Jets at home. He’s had all these breaks, he’s faced back-up quarterbacks, he got the on-side kick and he got the 59 yard field goal. Yet I’ll continue saying that you just don’t get those types of breaks all the time in this league. I often wonder about Tebow, going forward, that now for next year – because you’re a playoff team, you’re going to get a tougher schedule and you start the year facing Big Ben, Dalton and Flacco…you’re not getting Caleb Hainey again nor Tyler Palco. So I am still a real doubter on Tim Tebow
To switch gears now, most of you know that I am a Mark Sanchez guy – not only because there is that cultural/ethnic connection or because he’s the QB for my favourite football team, but I think he truly has the gift and talent to become an elite quarterback – though I don’t think the front office has done him any favours this season, but as honest as I can be with you, I am really disappointed with his performance this year. When I do my research and evaluate players during the course of the season – first off, I take great pride on how I evaluate players. I try to work as hard as I can at it and I remember doing my research on Mark ( watching closely every USC game etc) and I thinking “he’s going to be a premier quarterback in this league” That wasn’t due to the fact that he was the most talented, it was because he had so much “other stuff” What he had done over at USC – his history there, his work ethic, his intangible qualities, the way he played intuitively, he just had a “feel” for the game. I thought was really going to translate well into the NFL. But at the end of this season, I can only say that he has completely regressed light years this year.
From a quarterback standpoint, he is so flawed right now – mechanically he is so flawed. But is this due to confidence? Work ethic? I’d have to say that work ethic is a big part of it. A lot of players “think” they work hard, they think they know what “hard work” is….but they have no idea what it really is. I was this way for a long time in my academic career, where I thought I was working my tail off, until I realized early in my university career that “no, it’s a whole different level of hard work” How did I learn this? When you start talking to the right people, seeking the right voices and hearing the right things and having a willingness to listen, being introspective enough and saying “guys, I don’t like the way things are going and I need to change the way I do things” With respect to Mark, here’s a guy who would stay after hours and watch film, he’ll go and throw the ball around and say “okay, I’ve put in a hard’s day of work” but there is a whole different level of hard work – where you’re your carrying your own cross, so to speak. Where everyday you’re working on your mechanics because with confidence in your mechanics comes confidence in your play. Where you’re working on the different looks your going to see, where you dig through layers and layers and layers of film. Where if they don’t do A,B or C what could D, E and F be? You go deep, you start to develop synergy and continuity with your teammates, you stay after practice and work on things you didn’t get reps at.
In the off-season, you don’t go back to California for 4 months, you stay with your teammates and make the extra investment that the Brady’s are making, the Brees’ are making, the Rodgers are making, the Rivers are making. I am almost certain that Mark Sanchez is not working like that and he needs to start doing that and needs to take a hard look at how he’s throwing the football and how it’s coming off his hand and how he has changed mechanically. There is a drastic difference between Mark as a thrower at USC and Mark as a thrower with the Jets right now. I think his release is completely jacked up and when your release is jacked up, your brain – there is a dis-connect between your brain and your hands, so you’re always going to be late and you’re going to be behind receivers.