The Tim Tebow debate has raged on since he was dominating the red zone with the spread option attack at the University of Florida. Would his talents translate to the National Football League?
Well, that debate continues even as Tebow continues to rack up victories for the Denver Broncos.
Clearly, he’s had some good fortune – rookie Von Miller leading a resurrection for the Broncos’ defense among them.
But Tebow is undeniably a winner and a leader, attributes that high school football players around the nation are drawn to.
“I think he’s a good leader and that's why he’s really successful in the NFL,” Terre Haute South quarterback Danny Etling said. “The Broncos weren’t really good last year. Obviously he has something to do with their success. I see him as a good role model. I think what he does well, he genuinely cares about each and everyone of his teammates That makes his teammates play their best.”
Terre Haute North coach Chris Barrett has followed Tebow since hearing about the powerful running quarterback at Ponte Vedra Beach Nease High School.
Barrett has used videos of Tebow as part of his character development program. The coach doesn’t understand what makes Tebow such a polarizing figure. He plays the game the right way — with a passion and desire to win.
“The one thing that I don’t know what the negativity that comes along with him, I don’t know where it comes from. The one thing you can say is he is a winner,” Barrett said. “Listen to the so-called experts, people tear him apart. Why are they tearing him apart when you need people like him in today’s society?
“It’s all a bunch of garbage. He does the right things, does everything a coach preaches. He’s a competitor, he’s a winner.”
West Vigo coach Jeff Cobb agrees with Barrett, and he admires how Denver coach John Fox has adjusted.
“It’s more like high school, you modify your offense to fit your personnel. It’s kind of refreshing to see really. I love it,” Cobb said. “I also like the fact that it’s throwing tradition on its ear. You can’t help but root for the guy.”
The read option offense the Broncos are running is revolutionary in the modern-day NFL, where traditional pocket passers have reigned supreme for decades.
While the Broncos are running the ball almost three out of four plays, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are on pace to challenge the all-time NFL record for passing attempts in a season.
Etling has enjoyed watching how the Broncos run their offense.
“I do like to watch him, but my favorite is Aaron Rodgers. He’s absolutely killing it,” Etling said. “It's pretty creative. It’s actually simplified. Ran more what [Tebow] does well, which is not what a lot of NFL systems do. He’s done a really good job of being the player he is and just playing.”
Barrett wishes people would judge Tebow’s abilities on the results. Like other quarterbacks who have had success without a fluid throwing motion — Phillip Rivers for example — Tebow has drawn many doubters.
“You have to look at what else he does that is not in the stat book,” Barrett said. “He makes those around him better, the leadership, the team building, the positive example he sets, that makes your team better.
“The fact that he can’t throw it like [John] Elway could, I guarantee he’s got characteristics that make up for any deficiencies. Can’t just critique his throwing motion and say he’ll never make it.”
Cobb knows he wouldn’t want to be a defensive coach trying to stop Tebow in the red zone.
“If he gets in the red zone, that’s very dangerous there,” Cobb said. “He’s a little different than a Michael Vick that wants to run around the defense. He can run through it as well as most running backs.”
Cobb expects Tebow to progress as a passer as long as he’s given the opportunity to continue to lead an offense.
“He’s got the mental aspect. He’s a physical specimen. He’s got to improve and he will improve as a passer. He was not known as a passer. Going into this offseason, he can improve on it,” Cobb said.
Etling certainly enjoys the type of football player Tebow is.
“He’s definitely not prototypical NFL quarterback, that's something to respect that he's going to play his game how he plays it. That's something to be admired,” Etling said.