Tag Archives: Tim Tebow

Still Searching For The Answer at Quarterback

How’s this for a knee-jerk reaction?

John Beck isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Yes, last Sunday was only one game. Yes, last Sunday, he made his first NFL start in over three NFL season and close to four years overall. Yes, he finished last Sunday’s game without the services of his starting running back, best wide receiver, and 40% of his team’s starting offensive line. All of those are true.

Here’s my retort: when you watched the game last Sunday, did we really see anything from Beck that, at any point, made you think: “wow, I know it’s only his first game in four seasons, but I really think we have a chance with this guy”? Emphatically, no.

Anyone who’s being completely honest with themself would admit that Beck showed us that he’s an average quarterback, at best, with a little bit of mobility. That’s it. There’s nothing special, or even above average, about his game. Again, being honest, the only reason that myself, among many other Redskins fans, rallied behind John Beck was that he wasn’t Rex Grossman. That’s about it. It’s not like we saw something in 2007, or even this past preseason, that makes us believe that there’s something to this guy. Hell, this is the guy that Grossman beat out for the starting job. Decisively, I might add.

At this point in time, we just have to let Beck finish out the season. Because, really, what other choice do we have? There’s no point in going back to Grossman. He was a below-average quarterback, and he showed nothing different when he was the Redskins starter; there’s nothing to gain by going back to him (except maybe draft positioning). And it’s not like we’ve got some third guy at quarterback, waiting on the bench. Our third string, pratice squad quarterback is Jonathan Crompton, a guy who wasn’t even in camp with the Redskins and signed with the team just days before the regular season started.

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the patchwork quarterbacking this team has rolled out over the past decade. 21 starting quarterbacks in 19 years, since the end of the Gibbs I era. That’s just ridiculous on so many levels. Even with the new hope found from the Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, we’re still busy rolling out retreads like Donovan McNabb or castoffs like Grossman and Beck, and being told to have patience and faith.

Damn it, we’ve had nothing but patience, faith, and hope for the better part of two decades now. Enough is enough.

Quarterbacks aren’t like kickers, where there’s five capable guys waiting by the phone for tryouts, ready to take the incumbent’s spot if and when necessary. In today’s NFL, more than at any point ever in the history of the league, a team’s success lies with the performance of its quarterback.

Just take a look around the NFL, as of late October, 2011. The resurrection and current success of some of the league’s top franchises, both currently and over the past decade, began with finding their franchise quarterback – usually capitalizing on an early pick in the draft – and then putting together the rest of the team around that.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl last year, and went to the playoffs two of the three years Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback (yes, I know Rodgers was drafted 24th overall; if you remember that draft, Rodgers was legitimately in the running to be the top overall pick, and only fell to #24 after Smith was drafted because so many teams were afraid of the risk and cost associated with drafting a QB, given the high bust rate between 1997 and 2004). I’ll make the argument, right now, that Rodgers could very well be the best quarterback in the entire game – especially with Peyton Manning gone – even over Tom Brady.

In addition to having him as their starting quarterback in two Super Bowl wins, Pittsburgh has never had a losing season since drafting Ben Roethlisberger. The Giants have never had a losing season since drafting Eli Manning (outside of Manning’s rookie year in 2004), and they also have a Super Bowl ring to show for it. The Chargers have never had a losing season with Phillip Rivers (the third member of that 2004 draft class) as their quarterback , and have won 11 or more games in three of the five season’s he’s been the starter.

Indianapolis drafting Peyton Manning, and their subsequent success, should go without saying (at least until this season). Philadelphia ruled the NFC East for the better part of a decade, after drafting McNabb. The Bengals won two division titles with Carson Palmer as their starting quarterback. Atlanta won their division twice this decade, behind two different highly-drafted franchise quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Matt Ryan). Joe Flacco has taken the Ravens to the playoffs every season he’s been the starter. Detroit has been slowing down over the last few weeks, but looked like one of the best teams in the league through the first five weeks of this season, largely in part due to Matt Stafford’s play.

Even Mark Sanchez, who has looked erratic and inconsistent at times (and that’s being polite), has led the Jets on 7 fourth quarter comebacks, 9 game-winning drives, in less than two and a half seasons as the Jets starting quarterback. And, of course, that’s not mentioning the fact that he’s helped take the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games. Heck, even Vince Young took the Titans and Tim Couch took the Browns to the playoffs once.

Along with intense pre-draft background searches and character interviews, the sophistication of many college offenses, along with draft preparation camps and private coaching from ex-NFL coaches and coordinators, have made some of the recent top draft picks more NFL-ready than we’ve ever seen. If you count every quarterback drafted in the first round between 2008 and 2010 – Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow – all but Tebow (a known project and considered a reach overall) started very early in their NFL career and are firmly entrenched as their team’s starting quarterback for at least the next decade. And while the jury is still out for most of the guys from the 2011 draft class – namely Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder – Cam Newton is well on his way to joining the formerly mentioned entrenched starters as well.

In contrast, take a look at teams like Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, and yes, Washington, who’ve foregone the draft route and tried raiding other teams’ rosters or plugging in retreats at quarterback. These are among the teams with the longest playoff droughts in the NFL (you could argue that Kansas City’s playoff run was a huge fluke last year given how bad that team has been this year, and even despite all the offensive statistics they’ve put up under Matt Schaub, the Texans have never made the playoffs in the history of their franchise).

Yes, I know: drafting a quarterback is far from a perfect science, and there’s often as much of a chance of missing as there is of getting the right guy. For all the guys mentioned above, one could easily throw out names like Ryan Leaf (gigantic douche), David Carr (still in the NFL, but just never quite seemed to get it), Joey Harrington (more interested in being Elton John than John Elway), Akili Smith (overrated because of physical attributes while ignoring only one year of college football experience), Byron Leftwich (lazy work ethic and lousy teammate by numerous accounts), Alex Smith (no arm strength and gimmick college offense), Vince Young (overall IQ equivalent to a bag of hamburgers), Matt Leinart (more interested in partying and chasing tail), and Jamarcus Russell (couldn’t stay away from questionable characters, purple drank, or buffet lines), among others, as retorts. All of them, except Alex Smith (who seems to have finally caught on to some extent), have been colossal misses, setting back the fortunes of their franchises for years.

Even the Redskins had to deal with this after they tried to take this route – although not necessarily with a high draft pick – by drafting Jason Campbell, which obviously failed. Campbell was a better physical prospect – and human being – than he was a quarterback. The revolving door of coaching staffs and offensive supporting cast did hurt his development, but he was just one of those guys whose mind and football acumen weren’t nearly as good as his physical skills and talents.

But as we’ve seen, the “acquisition” route at quarterback hasn’t exactly worked either, and we’re once again in a position where we have to hit the reset button. Beck, Grossman, or whoever else we can dig up (Kellen Clemens) will suffice for the 2011 season, but not a day past that.With as many as six guys (maybe more) who could carry a first or high second round grade in the 2012 NFL draft
(assuming they all declare for the draft) – Andrew Luck of Stanford, Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Matt Barkley of USC, Robert Griffin III of Baylor, Nick Foles of Arizona, and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M – if there was ever a year that Shanahan was to find “his” guy that he could groom into the next franchise quarterback of this team, it would be this year.

But for now, even while John Beck remains the starting quarterback, the search for the Redskins franchise quarterback continues.

This column was cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

Donovan McNabb to the Redskins: Does this really make us better?

Last night, I was in Baltimore having dinner at my cousin’s house, when my buddy PJ called. Trying to be the responsible driver and attentive husband (for once), I let the call go to voicemail, figuring he wanted to chat Redskins football and I’d call him back as soon as I got home. Then my phone started blowing up. First a text from my buddy Vishal, a long-suffering 49ers fan who likes to poke fun at the raging homerism and frequent idiocy of Redskins fans, which stated: “BREAKING NEWS!! McNabb to Skins.” It was even followed-up with an emphatic “Holy Shit!” text immediately after, for emphasis. Even though it was April 4th, I still thought it was some sick April Fools joke, or another hair-brained trade rumor that usually pops up on message boards in the weeks before the draft.

I texted him that he better not be joking, and is it a done deal. He responded that he’s not and yes. And just like that, I find out that Donovan McNabb has been traded to the Redskins.

Throwing the roles of being a responsible driver and attentive husband out the window as fast as humanly possible, I immediately touch base with my round-table of buddies who double as long-standing Redskins fans, to discuss the situation: JohnnyF, the Rusty to my Danny (or vice versa?), and Double-A (aka “the Jew”).

Our first reactions were a resounding: “huh?” We didn’t even know what to feel. The trade was too salvageable to be awful, but too awful to be salvageable. To put it simply, we couldn’t figure out: “What does this accomplish?” It just seemed like it presented more questions than answers for the long-term. After marinating over the trade overnight and in the shower this morning (I get some amazing thinking done in the shower), I still don’t fully know what to feel about this trade.

But if I had to sum up my thoughts in one sentence, it/they would be this: How does this make the team better three years from now? Did we sacrifice long-term stability for a chance to compete in 2010?

Going from Zorn and Campbell to Shanahan and McNabb easily adds no less than three wins to the Redskins before they even take the field in 2010. McNabb absolutely upgrades the quarterback position for the Redskins next year, no questions asked. He’s been one of the most underrated passers in the entire league over the last few seasons, and despite whatever coach-speak you might hear coming out of Redskins park, it’s clear that the team does not factor Jason Campbell into the team’s future; at this point, I don’t think he’s even on the Redskins roster come May 1st.

So you acquire McNabb, a guy who is going to be 34 years old sometime around this Thanksgiving and has missed 18 games in the past 5 seasons, in exchange for your 2nd round pick. I’ve been saying all along that the price for the Redskins to trade up to get Sam Bradford was WAY too steep, something like a Mike-Ditka-circa-1998 fiasco. So now, the team is basically boxed in to taking Russell Okung with the #4 pick, lest you want another season of guys like Levi Jones and Anthony Batiste protecting the blind side of said 34 year old QB with injury issues. Now without a second round pick, the Redskins lose the potential to take a developmental QB for the future like a Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow, either of whom could have very well been available with the 37th pick. Either of those guys would have been been great prospects to groom under Shanahan and Shanahan, and would have excited fans knowing that we had our bridge to the future waiting in the wings and learning from the best.

Instead, we’re putting all our eggs in the McNabb basket. Do we really even know if he does have a good year left in him? If so, wouldn’t the Eagles have wanted to let him play out his contract, put a franchise or transition tag on him, and see what they could get next year? Wouldn’t you be a little skeptical about acquiring a (supposed) franchise QB who left his former town after breaking every single record they had to be broken? If the guy is “that missing piece” of your winning formula, in a league that values franchise QB’s like they’re made of Platinum, why was McNabb available? The Eagles are as frugal as they come with their salary cap money, but even surely they’d pony up the dough for someone they’d think to be the most important player on the roster, right?

For the sake of argument, let’s say he does have one good year left in him, maybe two. Then what? Think back to Redskins in 2005. After a putrid 2004 season, Mark Brunell finds the fountain of youth for a year, plays his ass off, and the team advances to the second round of the playoffs in six years. The Redskins gear up for a Super Bowl run in ’06 with an offseason spending spree, and go out and gets the finest offensive coordinator that money could buy (at the time) in Al Saunders. But Brunell then has to pay the piper, plays like he aged 10 years over the offseason, and the team is right back at square one again, figuring out what they’re going to do with the quarterback position moving forward.

It’s a bit silly to criticize the new coaching/management regime before their honeymoon is even officially over, but this move smacks of a head coach making the decision, not a personnel guy with an eye on the long-term prospectus for the franchise. Head coaches acquire players who can win today, the future be damned. It’s the job of the General Manager/Grand Poobah of football operations – Bruce Allen – to set the five year plan and make sure the organization sticks to it.

It seemed like we were heading in that direction, even while acquiring retread pieces here and there, because we expected that these guys are nothing more bandages to help us get through this season and on to the Redskins team of the future, which we were hoping and expecting to be carefully hand-crafted by Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan.

But this move fogs up that vision.

The talking heads are saying we didn’t mortgage the future to get McNabb. My question is: what does this do for the future? This team is far from a team like Minnesota last year, where they’re a quarterback away from being a legitimate contender. There are so many holes on this team, including most importantly, the guys who will keep him upright on the offensive line (specifically BOTH tackle positions). I’m certainly not privvy to access to the team’s film room, but off the top of my head, this team still has major questions offensive tackle, right guard, running back, and defensive end, and longer-term questions at quarterback, inside linebacker, and nose tackle. That doesn’t exactly sound like a team you should go and wager a few thousand on to win the Super Bowl next year.

How does spending your 2nd round pick on Donovan McNabb make your team any better over the long-term, with all these needs? I certainly don’t buy this idea that the team is a few players – or an over-the-hill starting QB – away from being a legit contender. We heard enough of that from the Snyder and Cerrato regime, and if we really buy into this, that proves that firing the latter changed nothing about the former and this franchise as a whole.

Any Redskins fan with half a brain (ok, admittedly they’re few and far between) would have taken a 6-10 season in 2010 if it meant we’re not going to have to repeat it anytime in the next 4+ years. We’ve grown tired of the team patching together teams season after season, hoping to simply remain competitive. Fans were hoping that the front office would build a team in the mold of New England and Indianapolis: using the draft to acquire young players who fit the grand scheme and mission statement of the organization, sprinkling in free agent acquisitions from time to time.

I still say the Redskins could make the situation a little better by sending their 2011 2nd round pick for OT Jared Gaither of the Ravens, a trade I’ve been campaigning for ever since news became available that Gaither could be had for less than a 1st round pick. The Ravens wanted a top 40 or 45 pick for Gaither, which isn’t guaranteed from the Redskins 2nd rounder in 2011, but I figured the Redskins could make it a 2nd plus a conditional 4th or 5th, depending on how the team finishes or how well Gaither performs. A tandem of Okung and Gaither would instantaneously give the team a pair of bookends at tackle for the next decade, and allow the Redskins to go into the season knowing that 4 of their 5 offensive line positions are ready to go (all except Right guard).

But that would mean that the Redskins will have traded their 2nd round pick this year, 2nd round next year, and a 4th round next year (that could end up a 3rd rounder), and still not have their QB of the future. They also don’t have a 3rd round pick this year after taking Jeremy Jarmon in the supplemental draft last season, greatly eliminating the potential of finding a “day 1” diamond in the rough like Dan LeFavour of Central Michigan.

So they’ve basically put themselves in that unenviable position of being between the rock and the hard place. If they let McNabb walk after 2010 – he’s a free agent after this season – then this move will be no different from the rent-a-has-been experiment that was the Jason Taylor trade, and force them to address the QB position next year with their first round pick, leaving absolutely no leverage for the front office at all. If they resign McNabb to a hefty extension, they’ll be placing the future of this team in the hands of a quarterback rapidly approaching the wrong side of 35 years old.

Redskins fans, myself included, always took joy in mocking their Eagles counterparts about the decorated trophy case that McNabb has helped furnish. Now we have to root for him? I mean, yes, I’d rather root for him than Jimmy “the douche” Clausen any day of the week, but it’s really hard to get excited about this move when it’s basically a two year band aid. Getting excited about McNabb and being a Redskins fan, to me, is forsaking the forest for the trees.

A couple of quick draft notes

Where will Tim Tebow end up?

With less than three weeks away from the beginning of the draft, my thoughts are that Tim Tebow ends up with the Buffalo Bills. The more you think about it (and the more you read), it just makes sense.

To start off with, Buffalo’s #1 area of need is at Offensive Tackle (left and right). It’s far more of an alarming need than quarterback, given the fact that they still have Trent Edwards and the recently-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, and there’s a deep group at quarterback in this year’s draft. So, Buffalo’s hand is not completely forced into taking a quarterback with the #9 overall pick in the first round. With a top heavy group of elite offensive tackles that could all be gone within the first half of the first round, Buffalo could use that pick and select someone like Anthony Davis of Rutgers or Trent Williams of Oklahoma, or maybe even Brian Bulaga of Iowa if he happens to fall that far (which I strongly doubt will happen).

Point being, they can get a potential franchise quarterback sometime later in the draft, but the same can’t be said about a franchise-caliber left tackle.

Which brings us to Tim Tebow. Buffalo has the 41st overall pick (the 9th pick in the 2nd round), right about where Tim Tebow’s name could and should pop up. To me, Buffalo taking him in the 2nd round just works. Sure, they may have to leap up a few spots to do so, but the price (maybe a 4th or 5th round pick) would be worth it.

Bills GM Buddy Nicks is already reported to be a fan of Tebow, and why not? Tebow is the kind of guy that would give Bills fans a new glimmer of hope, giving the franchise enough of a shot in the arm from preseason and season ticket sales to keep them from defecting over the border to Canada. Nicks would kill two birds with one stone by taking him, helping the team on and off the field.

For his first season (at least), the Bills could stash Tebow as their 3rd string quarterback behind incumbent starter Edwards and Fitzpatrick, two very cerebral quarterbacks whom Tebow could learn much from (in the classroom setting, at least). One of the two should emerge as a viable short-term solution while Tebow learns from the sideline, especially considering they will likely be playing in 2010 for their NFL careers anyway.

As for Tebow himself, he’s the kind of guy that’d just be thrilled to be taken by any team, the last person you’d probably ever hear trying to pull an Eli Manning. Sure, it would be quite a climate shock, going from St. Augustine and Gainesville to Buffalo, but he’ll probably spend the majority of his time at the team facility and in Bible study anyway, with an occasional evening spent at the renowned Buffalo hotspots such as Applebee’s and Dave & Busters.

By taking an offensive tackle in round one and Tebow in round two, the Bills kill off two of their biggest long-term needs on the first two days of the draft, and makes a franchise that’s becoming less and less relevant in today’s NFL landscape a lot more buzz-worthy.

Thumbs down for Dez Bryant

I just don’t see it happening for him at the next level. He’s already got the deck stacked against him as bad as any player in recent memory, and just doesn’t seem to have his head on straight.

When it comes to upbringings marred by broken families, poverty, and drug abuse, there are two types of people in the world: people who work their ass off to overcome their past and upbringing, and people who, for whatever reason, will never be able to escape their past. I think Bryant is in the latter camp.

Dez Bryant’s story reads almost identical to Michael Oher’s, save for the happy ending of being adopted by a loving family and given a better life (plus a subsequent Oscar-nominated movie). He bounced around from home to home growing up, while his mother (who has 15 when she gave birth to him) spent time in jail for both using and dealing PCP and cocaine. A select handful of local coaches and teachers did everything they can to push Bryant through school – despite ample resistance – because he was just such an incredibly gifted athlete.

Yet, despite a very successful college career, the majority of his national notoriety came because of his NCAA suspension for lying about his relationship with Deion Sanders (although he actually did nothing that violated NCAA rules, except for lying to NCAA investigators about whether he had dinner at Sanders’ house one evening).

To top it all off, he then goes and looks unprepared at this “Pro Day,” arguably the closest thing he’ll ever have to a real job interview he’ll ever have.

Much has been made about Bryant forgetting to bring his pair of running cleats that he’s most comfortable running his routes and the 40 yard dash in.

Is that criticism fair? Um, how about, “yes? The biggest no-brainer for a wide receiver’s a pro day is that you’re going to have to run the 40 yard dash and a myriad of routes, and yet you forget to bring your shoes for that purpose? That’s virtually the equivalent of going to a job interview and wearing sweatpants underneath your jacket and tie (if you remembered to wear/bring any pants at all).

And then, do you blame the employer for not hiring you after coming off as a buffoon in your job interview? Of course not … unless you’re Dez Bryant, who goes out and says that the media is treating him unfairly by reporting that he was unprepared.

Bryant has seen nothing but self-destruction all around him – his life has been marred by it – and it may be too much for him to overcome personally. How do you expect him to be successful at the next level, which is as difficult and cut-throat a profession as there is in the world? From high school through college, Bryant was used to being so much more physically gifted than his peers and competitors. In the NFL, he’ll be playing against the best of the best, and it’s often said that the difference between those who make it and those who don’t are what that player does Monday through Saturday, and not just on Sunday.

To be clear: i’m not lumping the guy in the same category as a Ryan Leaf or Lawrence Phillips, world class douchebags and the very personifications of pond scum. The guy just has a lot of baggage that he needs to overcome, and one of the worst ways you can help address those issues is by handing him millions of dollars when he has absolutely no idea how to handle or manage life already without the type of pressures and temptations associated with being a professional athlete.

Sure, most 22 year olds today don’t have their head on straight – lord knows that I didn’t when I was 22 – but for someone who has been through so much in his life, and had no proper guidance in his life, the very worst thing you can do is exacerbate the problem by giving him millions of dollars and a ridiculous amount of notoriety. It’s exactly why rockstars and strippers live the fast life in their 20’s and end up in rehab (or worse) in their 30’s.

Everyone knows that the other meaning of the term “NFL” is “Not For Long.” If Bryant doesn’t learn to get his act together quickly, and doesn’t receive the help he’ll need, he’s going to be another one of those players who flames out of the league despite his enormous potential.

Why the Redskins should NOT draft Tim Tebow

Count the Redskins as another team that’s (reportedly) interested in Tim Tebow.

Considering I wrote a post about why a team should draft Tebow, and that I’m a life-long Redskins fan, the following statement may not make a whole lot of sense: One of the worst things that could happen to Tim Tebow is coming to the Redskins with ANY of their draft selections.

After an impressive Pro Day workout (better known as Tebow running around in a t-shirt and shorts, throwing the ball to anyone who will catch it), he’s back in the mix of being a second round pick or third round pick (if not slightly higher). The Redskins are bringing him in for a private workout and interview, and could consider him with their second round pick (#37 overall).

I don’t really have a problem with Tebow being drafted in the 2nd round, nor him being drafted by the Redskins in general. It’s just that I know this team and this fanbase WAY too well, and I don’t know that him coming to Washington would be the best thing for his pro development and career.

As I previously said: Regardless of where he’s drafted and in what round, Tebow needs to hold a clipboard on the sidelines for AT LEAST one full season (if not more), before he’s ready to effectively play QB in the NFL.

It’s going to take him quite a bit of time to fully learn and understand an offense that is very different than anything Urban Meyer ran at Florida. He won’t have the luxury of being surrounded by players who are just flat-out better than those of his opponent, so that he can learn on the fly without any real repercussions. He needs about a few thousand more reps of this new-and-improved throwing motion, so that his arm wont revert to its previous muscle memory when the proverbial bullets are flying.

Todd McShay said it best: if he were any other QB, he’d be a day 2 pick (or day 12 or 13 or whatever it may be with this ridiculous new NFL draft format; I think the 7th round of the draft now occurs on Memorial Day). His collegiate success and off-the-charts intangibles inflate his value by a solid two or three rounds (and rightfully so).

But the problem is that Tebow’s name and his reputation carry more equity than is probably good for him, in that fans, and maybe even the ownership, of whatever team drafts him will want to see him on the field as soon as possible, irrespective of these facts.

I can easily see this being the case in Washington. You’re taking about a city who is hopelessly in love with the young and unproven back-up quarterback whom we know nothing about. When John Friesz was the quarterback, we wanted to see what Heath Shuler could do. When Heath Shuler was the QB, we wanted to see what Gus Frerotte could do. When Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel were the QB’s in Spurrier’s “chuck and duck” offense, we wanted to see what Patrick Ramsey could do. When Mark Brunell was the QB, we wanted to see what Ramsey and then Jason Campbell could do. And there’s still the loyal following amongst the Cult of Colt Brennan, who believes he is the savior waiting in the wings.

If the Redskins go are on pace to win anywhere from five to seven games (and lets not kid ourselves: that’s what we’re looking at in Year 1 of the Shanahan era), there’s going to be a ridiculous clamoring for Tebow to see the field, to get some reps and playing time. The armchair QB’s and talking heads will say “What’s there to lose?” and “This team isn’t going anywhere, Tebow is the future, let’s throw him in there and get his feet wet.” In theory, and with any other young QB, they’d be right too.

But Tebow’s situation is unique. Any team that really wants to get a full return on their investment needs to allow him to have, at the bare minimum, one “redshirt” season in the NFL (personally, I think it should be longer, in a situation where the starting QB isn’t going anywhere for the next 2-4 years), and be in a situation where he can learn. In a city whose fans called for letting Colt Brennan, a sixth round draft pick coming from a run and shoot offense, become the starting quarterback as a rookie, you really think they’ll have the patience to let Tebow sit on the bench?

Washington fans can’t shut up about the back-up quarterback. Even after a putrid preseason – against pre-season scabs that are probably currently working for UPS, no less – Colt Brennan probably still has a higher approval rating amongst Redskins fans than Barack Obama.

The last thing this franchise needs is drafting the biggest name back-up-quality quarterback in the past decade. From the minute he’d arrive at training camp, the DC media would follow him around like the pied piper and Redskins fans would start the countdown until he’s starting. Tebow needs to go somewhere where he’s not the biggest star on the team the minute he arrives, where his name won’t constantly be in the articles from the team’s beat writers and the mouths of fans and talk show hosts. As a rookie, his name shouldn’t even be in the same sentence as “quarterback controversy.” But if the Redskins draft him, the exact opposite of this will occur. The vast majority of fans already want to ship out Jason Campbell on the first thing steaming, and once Rex Grossman throws one of his patented long-balls right into the other teams hands, the uproar for Tebow to start will become deafening.

In the end, Tebow needs a long-term apprenticeship under a quarterback that garners just as much of a spotlight that he does, similar to Aaron Rodgers when he was drafted. The perfect situation would be somewhere like New England, where he’s backing up Tom Brady will be enveloped and protected in the bunker mentality of the Patriots created by Bill Belichick.

But by my count, more than half the teams in the league are shaky enough that their fan bases would immediately make the argument that Tebow should contend for the starting quarterback position from the minute he’s drafted, with Washington being one of the teams at the very top of that list.

Look, I’ll be happy as heck if we draft Tebow, because heaven knows this city finally needs a Redskins quarterback that it can be excited about. Yet ironically, that’s the very problem I have with them drafting Tebow: will the fans excitement and weariness from six win seasons overcome the obvious fact that Tebow shouldn’t go anywhere near the field in 2010?

I doubt it.

ESPN Draft Night: The ballad of Tim Tebow

If I were a betting man – and from time to time, I may happen to indulge in a wager or two – I wouldn’t bet against Tim Tebow.

Ask anyone who knows anything about college football, and you’ll get a variety of responses regarding Tebow. Draft geeks like Mel Kiper Jr. thinks that his NFL future rides on him becoming an H-back at the next level. Gator fans and alumni believe he can heal the sick and walk on water. Fans of teams in blue states roll their eyes when Tebow is the star of Pro-Life commercials and openly talks about his Creationist beliefs.

And then there are the NFL scouts – the cells comprising the collective brains of each NFL GM – who have a laundry list of criticisms which they’ll readily levy when discussing him: he’s a tad too short, he lacks arm strength, his accuracy is questionable, he’s got a longer wind-up than an old jack-in-the-box, and he played from the shotgun for most of his collegiate career.

So you then end up with one of the most celebrated, gutty, and inspirational football players in a generation being considered a 2nd round pick, at best, with any team having the audacity to select him even late in the 1st round sure to be skewered and ridiculed by draftniks and scouts alike.

But here’s the thing – and I like to call this the “Fox News Corrollary” – if you say something over and over, even if it’s a bold faced lie, people will start to take it for truth. So you end up with a bunch of people regurgitating that same list of knocks against Tebow, not considering the fact that when you put an inordinate amount of stock into arm strength and prototypical NFL size measurements, you end up with Akili Smith being drafted in the top 3 picks, ahead of perennial Pro Bowlers Champ Bailey and Torry Holt. It’s how a team overlooks a can’t-miss prospect like Adrian Peterson, and ends up drafting Jamarcus Russell. Ask Raider fans how that worked out for them, especially those with season tickets, who are directly helping fund Russell’s haphazard work ethic (to put it nicely), expanding waist line, and an addiction to something called “purple juice.”

When it comes to scouting quarterbacks, a lot of scouts put too much stock in dogmatic doctrines of arm strength and height, instead of just seeing the obvious: Tebow is a winner, a hard worker, a student of football, and a model citizen. He’s strong enough to absorb punishment at the next level, and he has proven that he’s the type of player that his teammates will rally around.

So when it comes to Tebow, I say “To hell with the scouting reports.” Scouting reports get Akili Smith drafted among the top 3 selections, and let Drew Brees slide out of the first round altogether. Placing an emphasis on arm strength and athleticism over work ethic and guts gets Jack Thompson and Steve Fuller drafted ahead of some guy named Joe Montana.

If a team takes Tebow, they won’t regret it. And let me be clear: I’m not saying that Tim Tebow is going to get to the NFL and evolve into a perrenial 4,000 yard passer, or will orchestrate an offensive air show like Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, or Peyton Manning. As hard as the guy works, I still don’t see him becoming that type of player at the next level, not only because of his physical limitations, but because that’s just not his style.

When projecting Tebow at the next level, I say think of a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Delhomme, or a really rich man’s David Garrard. Or, how about this: an eerily similar 2nd coming of Steve McNair: a player with the heart of a lion and was built like an H1 Hummer, never threw for more than 3400 yards or 24 TD’s in any season during his career, yet took his team to the Super Bowl and was a NFL co-MVP.

McNair and Tebow are roughly the same size, and the former had very similar question marks coming into the NFL as the latter: Can he really be a quarterback, and is he capable of running a sophisticated offense at the next level? Or did he just rely on being that much more gifted than his competition?

One has every reason to believe that Tebow will flop at the next level, given the fact that he’s entering the NFL draft riding a tidal wave of being arguably the most celebrated college football player in the history of the sport. You can easily blame human nature for any person starting to believe in their own press clippings, especially when everyone in your native state (save for a 50-mile radius surrounding Tallahassee and Coral Gables) believes you’re the living embodiment of Touchdown Jesus.

Again, I wouldn’t bet on that.

Tebow’s intangibles and work ethic are as good as any prospect in the history of the NFL draft. He is the type of guy who lives to compete, does whatever it takes to get better, and will take losses personally. When he gave the now famous decree of “nobody will work harder than I will” after Florida lost to Ole Miss in ’08, you believed him.

While the talking heads are too busy talking about how Tebow will have to switch positions at the next level, he’s impressing coaches and personnel men with his level of football intelligence, which shouldnt be all that surprising, given that he’s the rare superstar that stayed in college for all four years.

The fact that Tebow is working to significantly overhaul his throwing delivery – which has previously brought him a fair degree of success at the collegiate level – says something about his willingness to do whatever it takes to be better. He defies the traditional mentality of NFL prospects who think they can still succeed at the next level despite major fundamental flaws and setbacks.

Ironically, though, the worst that can happen to him, in my opinion, is for some team to draft him in the first round and anoint him the starting QB from day 1 – say, some team like the Jaguars, who already has Florida Governor Charlie Crist lobbying for them to select Tebow and make him the savior of that ignored franchise.

As gifted as Tebow is, he’s still developing as a QB; in scout speak, he’s more “raw” than a rare-cooked Filet Mignon. At times, it’s evident that he’s still more of a “thrower” than a polished passer.

Tebow is certainly worth drafting in the first round, if you’re going to commit a “redshirt” year for him and don’t throw him into the fire from day 1. At best, he should be used the way he was his freshman year in Gainesville: a few snaps a game, max, usually in gimmick situations, or if/when his team is ahead comfortably or getting blown out. Which is perfect: let him dip his toes in the water from time to time, adjust to the speed and complexity of NFL defenses, and then let him take care of the rest through his diligence and work ethic those six days between game day.

Otherwise, while the the first team QB of whoever drafts him is getting all the reps with the offense, Tebow needs to be holding the clipboard and absorbing everything he can.

Why? Because Tebow the type of guy that’s going to find any taxi-squad receiver or corner that will play catch with him for hours on end, perfecting his new throwing motion. He’s going to study the playbook as if he were the starting QB. He’s going to soak up all the constructive criticisms his coaches give him, and beg for more.

Any team smart and patient enough to allow this is going to get a tremendous return on their investment.

Tebow may not be as “NFL ready” as a prospect like Jimmy Clausen, who is almost unanimously considered a top 10 pick, but if asked me that, in 5 years from now, who will be the better NFL quarterback, I’d say Tim Tebow, without hesitation.

Let’s put it this way: if I told you that Tebow is going to have a career reminiscent of something between Jake Delhomme’s and Steve McNair’s, versus Jimmy Clausen, who is on his way towards having a career reminiscent of J.P. Losman, who would you rather take? Both guys arrived to their schools amidst ridiculous hype and fanfare. One talked about winning multiple national championships and multiple Heisman trophies, and won neither; he also was 1-2 in any bowl games, and cost his head coach his job by missing a bowl altogether his last season in South bend. Conversely, Tebow did his talking on the field, and in the one instance where he really said something noteworthy, it was engraved in his school’s athletic facility as inspiration for his fellow student-athletes.

Which goes to show that to Tebow, talk and hype are cheap, even if it involves him. He’s willing to work for his success in life and do whatever it takes. When you count him out, the harder he’s going to work to prove you wrong.

And the beauty of it is: if he succeeds at the NFL level, he’s going to be the last person to tell you “I told you so.”