I speculated in a recent piece that the Chicago Bears could benefit from a trade for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (or a player like him). Reaction to my mostly playful suggestion that the Bears consider such a trade was incredulous, sometimes vulgar, and highly predictable. Passion - but not always perspective - runs deep with NFL fans.
But some fans' unflinchingly vehement support for Tebow stumped me. The mere suggestion that Tebow could be traded provoked some to question my sanity!
Can Tebow fans not accept that his improbable string of comeback wins does not guarantee he will orchestrate offensive success in the long term?
Perhaps, I thought, I need to take a second look. It's difficult for me to be totally objective. I'm a lifelong Ohio State and Chicago Bears fan, so I'm plenty sick of losing to the guy.
But let there be no doubt: If nothing else, Tim Tebow is a winner. In the NFL, though, is often quickly turns to was.
So here's an assessment of Tebow based on the most objective of all sources, his statistics. This article presents the five statistics (see here for full Tebow stats) that best explain Tebow's success. Later this week I'll post a second analysis of Tebow's statistical weaknesses.
Tebow's 7-1 record this season as a Broncos starter reveals more than any other stat. In short, Tebow finds ways to win. Tebow's earned his reputation as a never-say-never, grind-it-out winner by leading the NFL with five comeback victories this season. Just one more comeback victory this season would land Tebow in pretty heady company. Just six QBs (Payton Manning, Ed Brown, Norm Van Brocklin, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Dan Pastorini) have logged more comeback wins in a single season. Obviously, few quarterbacks have done a better job of finding a way to win when the game is on the line.
Pass Interception Percentage
Tebow leads the NFL in this desirable statistic. He's thrown just two interceptions in 198 passing attempts for a rounded figure of 1%. In other words, at least when throwing the ball, Tebow's avoiding catastrophic decisions. He might not be taking the risks that pay off for other QBs, but clearly he knows how to play to his strengths.
Yards Per Rushing Attempt
Tebow's tied for second (with two others) in the NFL with 5.5 rushing yards per attempt this season. Tebow's version of the option attack is succeeding, in part, because of his efficiency. When he runs, he gets positive yards.
Yards Per Pass Completion
Currently tied for fifth with an average yards per pass completion of 13.4, Tebow also makes efficient use of completed passes. In other words, his league-low pass interception percentage is not a result of a West Coast-style offense that dings defenses with short passes all game. Tebow's completions are substantial.
Two Point Conversions
Tebow has converted two two-point attempts this season. Tebow's successful attempt against the Miami Dolphins this past October forced overtime (resulting in an eventual Broncos win). Perhaps no other stat better encapsulates Tebow's ability to do what it takes to inch past the opposition.