So reading the post about Golick's statement that Cam Newton is a better QB than Tim Tebow made me realize one of the problems I have with ESPN's coverage of TT: Even as they are backpeddling about him as a viable starting QB, they are doing it is a very backhanded manner - talking about his intangibles and running strengths and how that makes up for him being a sub-par quarterback. However they seem to be ignoring their very own stat: QBR
Now QBR is not a perfect stat, but it does attempt to analyze in an objective way how much a QB contributes to the winning and losing of his team. From the ESPN Website:
Quarterbacks get expected points through completions and incompletions, interceptions, interception returns, sacks, fumbles, fumble recoveries, scrambles, designed rushes, defensive pass interference penalties. This tool can show how much comes from these different components. If we find that drawing defensive pass interference penalties isn't a repeatable skill, then making a decision about a quarterback can use QBR without the defensive pass interference part.
How QBR "relates to winning" is a question that can be interpreted various ways. One way that we addressed this on TV was that the team winning the QBR battle within a game wins the game 86% of the time. Teams that win the turnover battle don't win this often. Teams that win the NFL Passer Rating battle don't win this often. This result is primarily emphasizing that QBR is capturing team results and that quarterbacks performance is quite important to that.
So, ESPN is telling us their magical statistic is highly related to winning for a QB, and takes into account everything a QB can do on the football field. Well, what about the 2nd year QB, Timmy Tebow? Oh, his career QBR is only 83.4 (better than Cam Newton with fewer starts, BTW). This is good for 14th in the NFL this year. The only 1st or 2nd year player with a higher QBR is Stafford, who of course has had more starts than Tebow.
So, why is it that when complementing Tebow, they don't say "Wow! Look at his numbers! He has repeatable skills which include protecting the ball and generating positive yards, and scoring in the red zone! This indicates that what he has done in the past he will be able to do in the future!" No, instead it's "Let's see how long this ride can last" implying of course that it will end sooner or later.
TT does indeed have few yards and a low completion percentage, which is why people think Newton (or whomever) is going to be a better QB than TT. But here's the thing: Tebow COULD easily have a higher completion % and higher yardage than he currently does. All he would have to do is make more throws and more risky throws (as Cam Newton does). He would nudge his % up to at least the mid 50s, and likely the low 60%, but at the cost of throwing more INTs. Since QBR is determining that Tebow's way of doing things works, why does ESPN not understand this?
So let's consider this in relation to the upcoming game. What happens if the Broncos fall behind early and Tebow is forced to throw? Tebow's stats both in early parts of the game (more conservative) and late (more risky) both indicate that if called upon, Tebow will be able to direct a more traditional throw first offense. He'll likely take more sacks and throw more INTs, but he'd also rack up all those sexy yards and TDs those talking heads seem to like so much.
Sooner or later, maybe this weekend, Tebow will have to show he can throw the ball. His past performance easily shows he will likely succeed. When this happens, we'll see the "analysts" again express surprise and talk about Tebow "exceeding expectations." Maybe their expectations...