Friday, April 23, 2010

Denver's Ultimate Hail Mary

By Jared Trexler

Philadelphia, PA - Dear God.

The exasperated exclamation shouted from the tips of the Rockies to bar side over beers at Sports Column Bar & Grill in downtown Denver speaks at the calamity of the Broncos' illogical decision based on head coach Josh McDaniels' self-absorbed nature and a complete over-reaction to Commissioner Roger Goodell's suspension of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

That same two-word expression also embodies Tim Tebow the individual -- an upstanding, good-hearted young man with the values of a Saint and the work ethic modeled after Proverbs 14:23, the bible verse that reads, "Be diligent and hard-working."

He would be a wonderful addition to a staff leading a YMCA peer mentor group. Or as a youth minister traveling the world. Or as a highly-successful college quarterback at Florida.

Tebow is not, however, a starting quarterback in the National Football League.

Well-respected scouts have used the words "marginal" and "not nearly adequate" to describe Tebow's arm strength. One NFC executive told an NFL beat writer in print late last week that Tebow doesn't have any quarterback skills.

"The critics, the negativity only pushed me that much more. That made me better," said Tebow after he was selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Tebow also is working with a completely re-tooled delivery, chronicled by ESPN late last week. In simple terms, the motion is entirely different, built to be quicker, more accurate in a league played at Daytona speed compared to the go- cart pace on Saturdays in the SEC.

Yet, it is a motion made for the combine, for a Pro Day with no rushers storming in from the edges. It is not game tested, not NFL scout approved. The only tape on Tebow is filled with quick outs, bubble screens and jump passes.

Successful, yes. There is no arguing Tebow's individual accolades and Florida's team achievements during his collegiate years. But the physical characteristics that made him special in college do not correlate to success in the NFL. His selection is looked at with even more skepticism considering Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen and Texas' Colt McCoy are still idly waiting for their names to be called.

The bottom line is Denver's hopscotch activity on draft night was the final piece of McDaniels' arrogance act, one that brought in a choir of good guys, wiped out the misfits...and with it, the talent.

It began last week by jettisoning Brandon Marshall, one of the game's top five talents at wide receiver, to Miami for a second-round pick...the same pick the team used as the cornerstone of a three-pick package to move back into the first round with a second selection and draft a man of great character.

And little NFL-equatable talent.

In essence, McDaniels has shipped off quarterback Jay Cutler, tight end Tony Scheffler and Marshall in a little over a year and brought in a quarterback with abundant question marks to lead Denver's trip back to the John Elway years.

McDaniels won't see those years. He will be fired in a year or two by an owner, Pat Bowlen, who focuses correctly on winning and the bottom line. The two go hand-in-hand, and the NFL is a business, a concept clearly lost on McDaniels and others league-wide who have echoed the importance of "quality individuals" in the wake of Goodell's six-game suspension levied against Roethlisberger for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

I'm all for character guys, but not at the expense of talent. Since when has the NFL turned into a moral playground where good guys finish first? Last I checked, the best players -- some saints, others sinners -- win championships.

That is a victory celebration McDaniels will never see. I would commend him for the Tebow selection if he was forming a God squad. Instead, he just spent a first-round pick on a quarterback who may struggle to make the taxi squad.

If Social Media's pulse is any instant indication, the city of Denver is befuddled. Broncos fans are enraged at McDaniels' leap of faith and the deconstruction of a team that started 2009 with a 6-0 record.

Yet, McDaniels is defiant in the face of scrutiny.

"The player (Tebow) has all of the traits you are looking for in terms of toughness, competitiveness, he is intelligent, he is a leader, he works hard," stated McDaniels.

Nary a word about talent.

McDaniels ultimate Hail Mary better be answered. He better pray his new-NFL social experiment pays off. If not, he will be free to spend Sundays next to the Tebow family.

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