An Existential Football Crisis


Fullback.

Hemingway called it “The White Bull”, that blank white space where typeface is supposed to go. And right now, I’m staring down The White Bull.

What can you say about a quarterback who doesn’t throw? What would you say about a running back who doesn’t run, or a wideout who doesn’t catch, or a defensive tackle who doesn’t tackle? It simply goes against every truth I’ve ever known in football, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. The entire thing is a contradiction.

Make no mistake: The Broncos 17-13 win over the Jets in was a team win more than it was anything else. If Von Miller doesn’t destroy Mark Sanchez all game, does Sanchez throw that bonehead pick to Andre Goodman that turned into six points? And if Goodman doesn’t turn that Manhattan-sized DERP into points, do the Broncos score more than 3 on the day?

Numbers don’t lie, folks. Five times, the Broncos started drives inside Jets territory. Five times. The result of those five drives started in enemy territory? A grand total of three points.

Folks, this is what a run-only offense will get you.

And yet, in all his wisdom, the Lord saw fit to deliver a win to His quarterback. Who, I will remind you, doesn’t throw the ball.

20 attempts last night, completing nine. Just over 100 yards. No passing touchdowns. One rushing touchdown. An incredible, five minute, 95 yard drive featuring two poorly thrown completions, and a 20 yard run that might as well have been on water. In fact, as soon as he took off, I said to my buddies, “He’s scoring this.”

I can’t remember the last time I was that sure of a running back scoring, but here I was, calling his shot.

Calling the shot of the quarterback who doesn’t throw.

None of this is new, of course. Tebow’s biggest boosters (generally from the state of Florida, generally Christian, and generally functionally illiterate) have said time and again that his greatest quality is the ability to change the minds of his doubters. And while my mind hasn’t been changed per se — I still don’t think he’s a good quarterback yet — I can see a map to where he could become a good quarterback.

But he’s got to learn to throw. He’s got to. At some point, he’s going to have to throw the ball effectively. We’re nine months removed from the worst Broncos defense in the history of ever, and yet we’re relying on Tim Tebow and his 17 points per game (10 points last night, which loses that game on its own) to win games? That defense isn’t always going to be so stout; we’re not always going to play a quarterback as poor as Mark Sanchez.

My former colleague, noted Florida and Tebow homer Dan Shanoff, calls the worries about Tebow’s style being unsustainable “the most overrated gripe,” as he can “count the number of ‘sustainably’ successful NFL teams on one hand.” Which is fair, except that we’re A) not talking about sustainable teams, but sustainable play at a position that requires accurate passing, and B) don’t we want the Broncos to BE the “sustainable team” that requires a second hand be used? I know I’d like to see that.

Will Tebow get to the point where he’s comfortable throwing the ball 20-30 times per game? Will the coaching staff get to the point where they’re comfortable letting him do so? And if they do, can he complete 55% (MINIMUM) of those passes? I have no idea.

But I guess I’m rooting for this guy.

This walking contradiction: The quarterback who doesn’t throw.

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