Friday, January 06, 2012

Another Tim Tebow rant. Sort of.

So Week 17 is done and with it the regular season. Booo! Why does football have to end so quickly? (He says, after four months of weekly football, with another month and a bit to go). I know this is a bit late, but honestly I spent Sunday watching football from beneath a blanket with a wet towel over my head, and strong cup of coffee after strong cup of coffee sitting beside me after suffering the worst hangover in the history of hangovers, then spending the next three days essentially recovering. But I digress.

I have to start in Denver who - despite losing to the Chiefs - will still make it to the playoffs on account of the Raiders also losing. The fact that the Steelers now have to travel to Denver is pretty funny, but that's what you get for not winning your division.

In a nutshell, the Broncos were chronic. Tebow is taking a ton of flack for throwing I think it was 6/20 for 84 yards or something like that (too lazy to check) and to a degree, yes, yes that was bad. But what's worse is two things; 1) the Broncos receiving corps and 2) the mainstream press.

Just watch a Broncos game for me. As a former receivers coach it is, for me at least, a f**king horror show of epic proportions. Tebow deserves some of the blame, but the receivers in Denver getting off completely free out of all this is just wrong. Eddie Royal couldn't catch a damn cold right now and Demariyus Thomas is having an incredibly disappointing season (/career). No way should they be skirting under the radar and not taking their fair share of the blame.

We all know why this is. The simple fact is that when you write an article with "Tim Tebow" in the title, then page views will follow (hehehe). More to the point, if you write "Tim Tebow Sucks", you're guaranteed to double your traffic at the very least. It gets peoples attention because it's a populist statement that fits in with peoples pre-conceived bias.

The truth is that there are a lot of people out there who don't have the first f**king clue what they're talking about who will happily sit down and say "Tebow can never make it as a QB in the NFL. Maybe as a TE or RB, but not a QB", without either; a) considering what an NFL quarterback is or should be and b) understanding that just because you're big and can run from the pocket against a retreating defense, doesn't automatically make you a running back or a tight end, let alone an NFL running back or tight end.

And so anti-Tebow headlines followed by anti-Tebow articles tell people the kind of things they want to hear. Inconvenient subjects like the truth fall by the way side in favour of trash journalism that panders to public opinion, instead of doing what journalism should do and that's challenge peoples perceptions and make them think hard about the chosen subject.

It's like the whole throwing motion argument all over again.

When Tebow was drafted people were flipping their s**t that Tebow had a poor throwing motion and that a motion like that could never survive in the NFL. Indeed, it was suggested that Tebow should alter his motion, perhaps by emulating someone like Dan Marino. Of course I wrote a post on this subject at the time, pointing out the fact that Dan Marino probably had just as much of a looping motion as Tebow does, but being an extremely small fish in a bloody great ocean that post will have missed about 99.999999999% (add more nines as appropriate) of all football fans.

The reality of Tim Tebow's NFL career can, I think, be summed up in one video;

That's the story of Tebow's time in the NFL so far; a pretty good quarterback, still learning the trade, who makes pretty good throws, only to get dumped on by his receivers, followed by the entire press corps and then the wider fan world after that.

Maybe I'm just being all "one man crusader" on this issue, thinking that you can change the world with one blog post, but it just drives me nuts that this issue isn't brought to peoples attention more, and that a seemingly decent young man is having his reputation and career jeopardised by bias media coverage that is only interested on cooking up the juiciest, dirtiest, most lurid stories that it can.

I'm not saying Tebow is perfect, he'll need to work his butt off in the off season to get better, but he does deserve some slack I feel. The only decent post I've seen anywhere on the Internet about this subject can be found here, at the by Woody Paige, a man who has seen all of Tebow's games and watched him through training camp. I think Paige's analysis is pretty spot on.

He also threw up an interesting point about the influence on a quarterbacks play with who he's throwing to. This is a subject I've been wrestling with mentally for a while now because I'm starting to be convinced by a very weird train of thought; that quarterbacks aren't as important as the wide receivers.

Not irrelevant. That's not what I'm saying. Just look at the difference in Indianapolis between Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky (perhaps with the exception of Orlovsky's stinker on Sunday). But it does seem that when you follow the trail of good quarterbacks often you find excellent receivers walking side by side with them.

Matthew Stafford has had a great year in Detroit for example, but a lot of that is to do with Calvin Johnson. Look no further than Sunday for a great example. Not just on the Lions side of the ball either, but on the opposite side as well. Matt Flynn, the backup quarterback who hasn't play a down this year that I can remember, walks in and hits six touchdown passes.

Now either one of two things has happened there. Number one is that Matt Flynn is the most unbelievable backup quarterback in the history of the NFL and can even top Aaron Rodgers. Or number two, the Packers offense is just that good and that it really doesn't matter who's throwing the ball because the receivers are getting open and their run after the catch ability is just pretty good.

Let's put it this way; I have a hard time believing that if it is all about the quarterback, that Matt Flynn can then just walk off the bench after his first week of practising with the first team in what, four months? Five Months? And just kick butt like all he and Rodgers had done was swap jeresey's.

Look at some of the numbers from the game as well. Calvin Johnson had nearly 250 yards for the Lions. Brandon Pettigrew had over 100. That's 350 of Stafford's 500 yards right there. For the Packers you had Jordy Nelson who picked up something like 160 odd yards just by himself.

Pausing from this train of thought for a moment, the Packers badly need to find another pass rusher to play opposite Matthews for next year. For a while there it looked like we might see a repeat of the Packers/Cardinals playoff game from a few years back. Green Bay really looks dodgy in shoot outs and while this one ended all smiles, too often it ends in tears.

Anyway, back on track. Another great example of the phenomenon involving quarterback and receiver partnerships is Carolina where Steve Smith has been a huge reason for Cam Newton's success as a passer. If I had a buck for every time that Steve Smith had made a great catch on a dubious looking pass by Newton, I wouldn't need to write this blog in order to try and generate a second income.

And while we're dwelling on the Panthers/Saints game, can I just say how f**king dumb I feel right now for picking the Panthers over the Saints. I completely forgot that the Saints had a chance to clinch a bye if they won and the 49ers lost. It didn't even occur to me when making the pick. I had images of Drew Brees putting his feet up for a week ahead of the play offs.

As it turned out he played and put up another huge day, mostly through Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham. Congratulations as well to Graham for breaking the single season receiving yardage record (or was it receptions?) for a tight end, and also to Darren Sproles for breaking the single season all purpose yardage record. That offense has been white hot this year.

Back on track and even Brady has Welker, Gronkowski and Gonzalez, the later two of whom both went over 100 yards against the Bills.

Eli Manning is another good example. Alright, hands up straight away that I've never been a huge fan of Eli Manning, but you only have to watch some of the throws that he makes and then some of the catches that guys like Victor Cruz make to see where I'm coming from with this. Cruz finished that game with over 170 something yards, many of which he picked up with his feet. He made some great grabs on badly thrown passes and that's really the thrust of where I'm going with this.

For those who don't know, you're just going to have to trust me on this one, but a lot of those deep passes that you see quarterbacks make are not the picture perfect bombs onto a dime that commentators (and quarterbacks coaches) would have you believe. In most cases it's the receivers who make adjustments - however subtle - underneath the pass that makes it what it is.

You often hear things like "... and the quarterback put that one right on the money!". What the commentator should be saying is "... and that one was just a touch under thrown, but the receiver shortened his stride just a little at the end there and made the catch!".

Now it works both ways. Often you'll see what appears to be an over thrown pass that makes the quarterback look bad, when in some cases that's actually the receiver just misjudging the flight of the ball and slowing down a little too much. Then there's guys like Braylon Edwards, who can't seem to remove his gloves from his face mask when trying to catch passes over his shoulder.

Again I need to reiterate that I'm not saying quarterbacks are mere bystanders. Blaine Gabbert is a fine example of what happens when a quarterback can't stand up in the pocket against the pass rush and has almost zero accuracy beyond about 10 yards.

It's just that the more that I think about it, the more a quality receiver(s) seems to play a part in the best offenses.

I wonder how successful Andy Dalton would be in Cincinnati without A.J. Green, or how successful Matt Moore would be in Miami without Brandon Marshall? An intriguing question and one I intend to keep an eye on in future.

Thanks for stopping by to read. I had planned to do a better recap and not just rant, but sometimes a blogger has to do what a blogger has to do, like begging people to share the link with as many others as they can. ;)

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