During training camp this season, I wrote a lengthy post comparing my early technical growth as a musician to Tim Tebow's progress as a QB (you can find it here). This was a time when Kyle Orton was the clear starting QB, and Tim Tebow was under constant media assault. I argued that, just as I was forced to retreat from music and become a worse cellist during a period of physical and mechanical transformation, Tim Tebow was bound to become a worse passer for as long as he is attempting a complete mechanical tear-down and rebuild. It's the natural progression for that type of process. But no-one could have seen what's happened since...Going back to Training Camp, and although I rarely saw this mentioned in the media, it seemed clear to me that Elway and Fox had decided that Tebow exclusively needed to expend his mental energy rebuilding his mechanics. As soon as they had a chance to observe him in practice, Elway and Fox saw there was no way for Tim Tebow to succeed as an NFL passer with his technical shortcomings. So instead of having Tebow spend time in training camp practicing with the 1st team, focusing on game execution, they let him focus on his craft. They made Orton the starter, believing in his ability to execute the offense and win some games. They asked Tebow to work on his mechanics, to be patient with his technical reformation. Unfortunately, this is the NFL and the plan didn't work. Orton underperformed (under incredible scrutiny) and the team started 1-4. Losing and the accompanying media circus forced their hand. Elway and Fox unearthed Tim Tebow, mid-metamorphosis.
Thankfully, as we all saw, Tebow is an absolutely unique athlete and competitor. His will and leadership helped us to an improbable Miami comeback win, even though his throwing mechanics and consistency were clearly still in flux. This was evidenced by the next game, a trouncing by Detroit- Tebow's half-baked mechanics, in a standard offense, pitted against a team with a strong pass rush pass. That was the low point for the Broncos this season, and the media was unrelenting. Tim Tebow was "cooked in a standard offense" with his mechanics still in flux (as John Fox admitted). He was missing throws by several feet, seemed hesitant, and was consistently late to throw.
But physical/ technical/ mechanical transformations are difficult and take time. I know what that is like, when you are essentially changing the very way you move, every time you move. You become more self-conscious, aware of the minutiae of every move. You have much less consistency to your motions since they are going through constant underlying change. Your performance drops from its previous levels. Eventually, if you work through the change over time, your performance will be greatly improve. But during the time of transformation, you will struggle. I struggled as a musician, and Tebow struggled as a passer. My cello teacher had the foresight to have me step back during this time, and Elway/ Fox attempted to do the same with Tebow. They understood that you must take 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.
But the real brilliance of Fox was when this plan didn't work. When Tebow, mid-metamorphosis, was asked to start for a 2-5 team, beset on all sides. What did he do? He turned to the option. And why was this so brilliant? Obviously, we have the results so far: 4-0 since running the option as a primary offense. But the real brilliance is that it allowed the team to win while Tebow could still focus on his mechanics.
Because when you're trying the focus on mechanics, it is very hard to learn anything else new. I couldn't learn new music, and Tebow can't learn a new offense. So why make him? Allow him to run an offense in which he is exceedingly comfortable, so that when he passes the ball, his focus can lie with his mechanics rather than his route tree. NFL defenses have never prepared to face this offense, and Tebow is genuinely unique as a runner. Don't ask Tebow to throw the ball much, and because of the consistent option threat, he will have extra time when he does throw.
Mission success. And guess what? Tebow's mechanics are improving noticeably and quickly. The Charger's game really showed the degree of Tebow's improvement on the season. For the first time this season a team consistently stopped the option run. Tebow carried 22 times for 67 yards- a 3.2 yd average, after he averaged well over 6 yards per carry coming into the game. Yet Tebow was far more confident and accurate in his delivery of the ball this game. The new mechanics were in clear evidence throughout the game, even if they are not yet truly stable.
More than likely, Tebow will still struggle with his mechanics and accuracy through the rest of the season. And even once he masters his throwing mechanics, he still has to learn how to execute an offense at a high level, like any other young QB. But with the progress Tebow is making in his mechanics, and the brilliance of the coaching staff in helping his development (while still winning games), this Broncos fan is finding his faith. Elway spoke honestly when asked if Tebow is the franchise QB- until he completes his technical rebuild, he is not. Yet Tebow is showing signs of becoming a more consistent passer as his new mechanics become integrated. And once they are truly second nature, once Tebow can focus exclusively on offensive execution rather than mechanical change, the sky is the limit.
Until then, we'll just have to watch the Broncos winning games.