Tim Tebow may be one of the more scrutinized players in the NFL, but Michael Mankoff explains why he may have finally made it with the Philadelphia Eagles.
(C+P) — Political pundits are arguing about the next presidential candidate, we are eagerly awaiting the release of a new iPhone, and Tim Tebow is getting standing ovations. What year is it?
If you guessed 2011, you’re wrong. How about another hint? Fans are beginning to clamor for Tebow to replace Mark Sanchez.
If you guessed 2012, you’re still wrong. One more hint: no one thinks Tebow can be a starting quarterback, but there is some talk of using him in a limited run/option role.
If you guessed 2013, you’re wrong again.
That’s right, folks: it’s 2015 and Tebow is back, only now he’s in Philadelphia battling former USC Trojan Matt Barkley for the #3 quarterback spot. And after one preseason game, Tebow appears to have already captured the hearts and minds of Eagle fans—even if all he had to do was step onto the field.
When Tebow entered the game Sunday, the crowd erupted into applause so loud that Tebow almost had to use a hard count. The crowd eventually quieted, and Tebow proceeded to do what Tebow does: gain yards and put points on the board.
Sure, 6 of the 13 points the Eagles scored with Tebow at the helm came from field goals, but all anyone can talk about is the 7-yard rushing touchdown in which Tebow leaped into the end zone after outmaneuvering Colts safety Winston Guy. Another of Tebow’s drives should also have ended with a field goal, but the 34-yard attempt was muffed by kicker Cody Parkey. Vintage Tebow.
It wasn’t all good, though. Tebow is still having difficulty reading defenses and was sacked three times, including once for a 13-yard loss. Tebow’s decision-making skills are also questionable, and several of his throws nearly resulted in interceptions. Tebow completed 6 of 12 passes for 69 yards, including one throw that only resulted in a completion because of an acrobatic catch from wide receiver Rasheed Bailey.
Enough about what Tebow did, though; let’s talk about what Tebow might do. First, Tebow represents the same pass/run threat he did in Denver, even if his passing skills aren’t ideal. An occasional option play or wildcat formation might be enough to trip up defenses. That is if the Eagles don’t use Tebow as a glorified running back the way Rex Ryan did in 2012.
The decision to move extra point attempts back 15 yards means a lot of coaches will opt for 2-point conversions; which is great news for Tim Tebow. That close to the goal line, Tebow’s athleticism could find him a niche spot in the offensive. Although Chip Kelly has told media outlets that, “Tim is not a gadget guy,” and won’t be used in this capacity, Kelly has been known to deceive the media before.
Tebow also represents a fourth string quarterback option. Bradford is by far the leading candidate for the starting spot, but his injury history makes him unreliable at best—he didn’t play Sunday in order to give his damaged ACL a bit more time to recover. Watching Mark Sanchez play is like watching someone fly a model airplane—it flies (although sometimes shakily), but there is always a decent chance that it might come crashing down to Earth.
Having played in only four NFL games, Barkley is an unknown factor, although his 4 interceptions in 3 appearances during the 2013 season aren’t encouraging. He did go 12 of 20 Sunday, racking up 192 and one interception, albeit on a tipped ball. He certainly looked more comfortable than Tebow and had much more success reading the defense.
All of that aside, the Eagles are just one hit and a butt fumble away from Tebow being the #2 quarterback. Granted, most teams don’t keep 4 quarterbacks, but Kelly might want to hedge his bets. Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow is back—at least for now.