Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why the Arena Football League is Tim Tebow's Best Chance at Becoming an Elite NFL Quarterback

Let me make this quick and to the point: Tim Tebow's best shot at NFL stardom, as a quarterback, is through the Arena Football League. Perhaps last chance, as well?

Say whatever you want about his track record as the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback in 2010 and '11, but Tebow's chance at becoming a starting quarterback again in the National Football League is quickly dwindling.

At this point, after a failed 2012 campaign with the New York Jets, Timmy has two ways he could go about this: 1) give up on trying to become an NFL starting quarterback and admit that he may be better off switching positions if he wants another gig in the league or 2) stick with the quarterback position and sign a deal with an Arena League team.

There are plenty of teams willing to give him a deal if he chooses the latter of the two options. In fact, the Philadelphia Soul is the most recent AFL team to reach out to the newly unemployed Tebow about a job. The franchise's owner, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, even sent him a package of plays that he'd be used in. That's showing some initiative.
Lately the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be the only NFL team that would be possible fits for Tebow to become quarterback for, and the team's new owner has already publicly announced that he has no interest in the former University of Florida Heisman winner. Tebow appears set on sticking with his current position and, frankly, why wouldn't he? He's been playing quarterback most of his life, he led the Florida Gators to two National Championships as the signal caller and led John Elway's Broncos to a 2011-12 AFC Wild Card victory over the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers.

That being said, I am among the majority when I say that Tebow's passing skills are not up to par with that of elite QBs in the NFL at this moment in time. Though he's worked on improving his mechanics, his throwing motion is still too long and his accuracy is erratic. His 10-7 record and 75.5 QB rating shows me that he has the game management and leadership skills to lead his team to victories, but the circus he brings with him scares off potential NFL suitors. Especially after his 2012 season in New York. Just too many distractions within the locker room, and he didn't appear to earn the respect needed from his Jets teammates.

The limited number of teams in the league that have expressed interest in his services, are not after his quarterbacking services. Rather, they'd like to use him in a variety of other packages and could possibly switch him to tight end or fullback.

But here's what the Arena league can offer him: a chance to develop his mechanics and transform himself into more of a pocket passer. Arena league fields are much smaller (50 yards long, 85 feet wide with eight-yard end zones), and the game itself has little running plays. With much faster-paced, passing-oriented games, Tebow will get acclimated with three and five-step dropbacks. He'll be forced to get the ball out of his hands much quicker as well, which is something else Tebow's game tends to lack.

Arguments have been made that the Canadian Football League would be another option for Timmy to take his talents to, but I would have to disagree with that statement if he would like to make his way back to the NFL. If he heads north to the CFL, he'll most likely have a harder time re-adjusting to the NFL should he make a re-appearance in the future. With the Arena League, he'll have tighter windows to throw in, meaning that if he can complete passes and throw touchdowns for an AFL team he will have no problem going back to hitting wideouts in stride on a much wider National Football League field.

As for the CFL, it's similar to the AFL in terms of relying heavily on the passing game. The only trouble with this is that the Canadian League's fields are 110 yards in length (with 20-yard end zones) and 65 yards in width, compared with the NFL's 100yd/10-yd/53.5-yd dimensions. Huge difference if you're a quarterback switching league's and adjusting to the style of play.
Normally you would think it would be a minor adjustment for a trained professional, but considering Tebow is looking to further improve on his mechanics and pocket presence it could just prove to be an un-needed distraction.

Either way, I believe these are the two most viable options for Tebow if he plans on becoming a star NFL quarterback one day. Then again, the AFL option could be a hit-or-miss opportunity. A superb stint with an Arena League team could help his NFL stock tremendously, but if his AFL stint ends with a train wreck similar to his New York escapades then he may further damage his reputation around the league.

So if he plans on sticking with his current position in the NFL, it would be well worth the risk of temporarily leaving the league to improve his mechanics and pocket-passing abilities out of the spotlight. And lets face it, a Tim Tebow AFL signing would rack in plenty of money for the respective team that happens to land him and may even bring in a few sold out crowds to Arenas all over.

Sounds like a winning situation for everyone. Tebow gets his shot at remaining a quarterback while working on his craft, his team earns whatever money Tebow fans bring them (and possibly a few wins), and the NFL can finally get away from the Tebow circus that was 2012.

Hopefully one day Tebow can finally prove myself––and all of his other critics––wrong and become an elite, Super Bowl-winning quarterback. One day.

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