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Give Tim Tebow Some Time

Posted on August 07, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Though he is only in his second NFL training camp, some are already trying to rush to judgment about whether Tim Tebow can become a successful NFL quarterback.

One of the dangers in today’s era of instant communication and immediate gratification is that we want everything to happen right now. We don’t want to wait for a piece of information, an answer or for success. It is in this instant world that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is helplessly trapped.

After a record setting and highly successful college career at the University of Florida, most NFL experts said that Tebow could eventually develop into a capable NFL quarterback, but it would take time and patience.

Those are two words that don’t often fit into today’s sports world. With players receiving sizable salaries from the minute they enter the league, owners, coaches and fans don’t usually have patience to allow a player to mature and grow, especially at the quarterback position.

It didn’t use to be that way. In fact, the most recent example of what can happen when a team gives a young quarterback time to mature and develop was personified last February when Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV.

Originally selected with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Packers, Rodgers threw only 59 passes in his first three seasons while sitting on the sidelines watching future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.

When he took over in 2008, Rodgers was ready to be a star and in three seasons as a starter has completed 64% of his passes for more than 12,000 yard, 86 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.

In just his third season as a starter, but sixth season in the Green Bay system, Rodgers and the Packers won their first championship in 15 years.

There was a time in NFL history when stories like Rodgers’ were common.

Ken Stabler joined the Oakland Raiders as a second round selection in 1968 after playing for legendary coach Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama.

After spending his first two seasons on the taxi squad, Stabler joined the active roster in 1970 and from 1970-72 saw limited action while George Blanda and Daryle Lamonica saw most of the action at quarterback for the Raiders.

Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a championship in his third season as a starter and sixth season with the team.

He started two games during those three seasons and attempted 129 passes with 5 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

However, by 1973 Stabler was ready for prime time and went 8-2-1 in 11 starts while passing for 1,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. The Raiders reached the playoffs and whipped the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-14 before losing in the AFC title game to the Miami Dolphins.

Stabler led the Raiders to the AFC Championship Game during each of his first five seasons as the starter and in 1976 the Raiders went 13-1 and won Super Bowl XI.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Stabler spent seven seasons as the starting quarterback for the Raiders before completing his career with stints in Houston and New Orleans.

Another Super Bowl winning quarterback who was given time to mature was future Hall of Famer Roger Staubach.

Like Tebow, Staubach won a Heisman Trophy while in college despite being known more for his running ability than his passing prowess.

After spending five years in the U.S. Navy, Staubach joined the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie in 1969.

During his first two seasons, Staubach saw limited action playing behind starter Craig Morton. He attempted a total of 129 passes for 963 yard, three touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Roger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory in his first season as the starter.

It was during his third season that Staubach took over as the starter for the Cowboys and the results were immediate. He was a perfect 10-0 as the starting quarterback during the 1971 season and then led Dallas to three straight playoff victories and their first Super Bowl Championship.

Overall, Staubach spent eight seasons as the starting quarterback in Dallas and led them to four Super Bowl appearances and two championships. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

Many other NFL quarterbacks, including Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Steve Young, Phil Simms, Joe Theismann and Kurt Warner took a number of years before they finally developed into successful starters.

The struggle for Tebow is that because of the immediacy of everything in today’s 24-hour news cycle world, the plethora of analysts and commentators covering the NFL feel the pressure to make a judgment on whether Tebow can be a successful quarterback based on just a handful of performances and practices.

If Stabler or Staubach, both of whom were also not traditional drop-back passers, had been subject to such scrutiny early in their careers it is very possible that they would not have enjoyed such long-term success.

The best thing that could happen to Tebow is for head coach Mike Fox to take some pressure off his young quarterback by saying that Tebow is part of the long-term plans for the Broncos and will be given a chance to play if and when it is determined that he is ready to succeed.

That would be far better for Tebow’s long-term success than the current daily debate as to whether Tebow is as good as Kyle Orton and who will start.

Orton clearly has more experience and likely gives the Broncos a better chance to win right now. It would serve everyone better if Orton was elevated to the starting spot for the beginning of 2011 and Tebow could go back to developing as a future quarterback. Hopefully that would take some of the immediate pressure off and lessen the media frenzy that has currently engulfed the Broncos. But, that will only happen if Fox makes it clear that he still believes that Tebow can develop into an NFL quarterback. Anything less than that kind of endorsement will just make it worse and harder for Tebow to ever settle down and learn the game.

Only time will tell if Tebow can be a quality NFL quarterback, but history has shown that if given time, a player with his pedigree and athletic ability can indeed develop into an NFL star if given a chance to learn how to adjust his game to the nuances of the NFL.

The question now is whether the Broncos, media and fans will have the patience to give Tebow that chance.


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