Tim Tebow’s Eagle debut: lots to like, lots more to work on

Tim Tebow is off to a good start, but he's still got work to do if he wants to make the Eagles' roster.
Tim Tebow is off to a good start, but he’s still got work to do if he wants to make the Eagles’ roster.

As you’ve all undoubtedly heard by now, Tim Tebow has returned to the NFL. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly in order to compete for a spot on the roster. There’s a lot Tebow can bring to the Eagles, and we in the media have been talking each possibility to death since he signed on the dotted line.

Now comes the fun part: analyzing what he actually did as opposed to predicting what he could do.

Tebow’s first game as an Eagle produced mixed results, and by mixed, I mean everything on the spectrum from “he could be the Eagles’ starter” to “he’s asking for trouble” and everything in between. I’m pretty sure that all things considered, he did more to help himself than hurt himself, because he answered some questions that have been alive since his playing days at Florida.

First: that throwing motion. It’s all we’ve heard about since his days at Florida. The old Tebow would bring the ball down to his thigh pad in his windup, prolonging his delivery of the ball to his receiver and also inviting defenders to slap it out of his hand. This seldom hurt him at Florida because of a tremendous offensive line, but it did once, when Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette strip sacked him in the middle of that long windup. So he went back to the drawing board and developed a new, much crisper throwing motion that never sees the ball get dropped below his shoulder, and it paid off in spades.

Exhibit A:

On this play, Tebow holds onto the ball for maybe two seconds before showing off that new motion, and firing a bullet right on target to his tight end, who appeared to be his first read on the play. No complaints there. Hey, if your primary option is open and you can get the ball to him, go for it.

Exhibit B:

Again Tebow’s first option is there, again he puts it right on the money, and again he wastes no time firing a laser that’s right on target. Job well done there. He obviously put a lot of work into that delivery since he last played an NFL game, which shows that he’s capable of being coached and doing the hard work needed to play in the NFL. He also ran a few times, including a seven yard touchdown run to cap his performance:

But Tebow did display one other glaring weakness that’s got to be corrected if he wants to make the team.

Unfortunately, his primary target won’t always be open. That’s just the nature of the NFL. After Tebow found his first option on consecutive throws, the Colts’ defense then took extra care to cover it, and Tebow proceeded to struggle. When he saw that his first option was covered, he either froze in the pocket or began to run around in the backfield like Brandon James against Tennessee. Each tactic resulted in him getting sacked; on one occasion, he eluded four Colts tacklers, going backwards each time before the fifth one brought him down for a twelve yard loss, and another time, he froze up in the pocket, failed to notice an Indy defender coming in from behind and got sacked.

The problem with fully blaming Tebow for the ensuing two drives, both of which went nowhere, is that he was playing with an offensive line that may not even make the Eagles’ practice squad. The center couldn’t even snap the ball back to Tebow, making him look more like a shortstop than a quarterback. The weak offensive line let Indy defenders through like a sieve. But while all 32 NFL QB’s are guaranteed to play with a better offensive line than the one Tebow was dealt, being pressured is part of the job.

Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees don’t like getting harassed by four defenders who blow through the line any more than Tebow does, yet they are able to deal with it in one of two ways. Sometimes, you just have to admit defeat on a play and fall forward to limit the damage, and lose four yards instead of twelve, or worse, turning the ball over by getting blasted from behind and fumbling. And sometimes, there’s another way out of trouble- dumping the ball off to the safety valve if possible. Tebow didn’t do either of those on Sunday, opting instead to scramble this way and that, hoping for a miracle that didn’t occur. Now, what he could do is scramble around for a little while and then either throw the ball out of bounds or try to run for a few yards when it’s clear that there’s no potential for a successful throw. But he didn’t do that on Sunday, and his decision making in the heat of battle isn’t where it needs to be yet for a coach to trust him like that.

The short analysis of his debut was this. He was great when things went his way, displaying an NFL caliber throwing motion with NFL caliber accuracy. But when things broke down, he did some things that are just begging for trouble. He needs to learn that in the NFL, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you’re about to lose yardage and limit the amount of yards you’re going to lose. And so right now, the main concern I have with Tebow is that he’s still susceptible to disaster under heavy pressure and/or when he’s forced to find another receiver.

Then again, he’s still got three more preseason games to work on everything. He’s shown plenty of promise by fixing that delivery. Now he’s got to learn to limit the damage on plays his offensive line has already lost for the team and be more flexible with his reads. I still have fond memories of Tebow at Florida. He remains my favorite player of all time, and I’ll always believe he was the greatest college football player of all time. His NFL career has been mainly disappointing, but he’s earned himself what I have to believe is his last shot to save it. And he’s off to a good start. But he’s still got work to do.

3 thoughts on “Tim Tebow’s Eagle debut: lots to like, lots more to work on

  1. Hey look! Earl Okine!

    Haha, nice writeup though. We all love Tebow but I’m glad somebody can analyze his performance in an unbiased way. I love him to death, but like you, I have serious concerns about his future in the NFL. He put a lot of them to rest on Sunday but he’s by no means where he needs to be, either.

  2. I’d like to see him with the at least the 2nd Line.

    The only thing I saw was he needs to make his 2nd and 3rd reads better.

    That said, Sanchez did not light it up and none of the other 3 QBs can run it in like Tim can.

  3. We all love Tebow. He’s a legend. He’s just not a QB in what had become the “teaditional” sense.

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