In my mid-fall mailbag, I answer to the slew of Tim Tebow haters and lovers -- with this guy, it's really one or the other -- talk about the Colts' prospects of trading Peyton Manning and further dish on why Duke's Austin Rivers is a star in the making despite his early season struggles.
- I just wanted to commend you on your article on Tim Tebow. I will say up front that I am a fan of his, so therefore I have a bias. Your treatment of his accomplishments thus far I see as accurate. ... And there are plenty of orthodox and pretty quarterbacks who never won anything; see Ryan Leaf and Steve Bartkowski, or even Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn!
Thanks for a good article. Take care,
-- Barry Bonifield, Louisville, Ky.
Just when you think there are no happy readers out there, Barry Bonifield comes along! Between the Lane Kiffin column and the piece on Tim Tebow, no article I've written has inspired a more passionate response, either good or bad. The thing about Tebow is he's not conventional. When he completes two passes for 69 yards for an entire game, it seems brutal. But then again, he won the game.
He made a gorgeous deep throw to Eric Decker and had several crucial runs to extend drives. The touchdown run was one only a handful of other quarterbacks in this league could make. With a 6-4 career record as a starter, it is still far too early to suggest Tebow is a). A bust or b). Really good. Guys like Ryan Leaf have all of the physical tools that Tebow doesn't; great arm, accurate, perfect throwing motion, but just as Roger Staubach told The Huffington Post recently, having leadership abilities can sometimes mean just as much. Clearly, those leadership abilities were once again on display as he orchestrated a game-winning, 95-yard drive Thursday night against the Jets. Whatever it is, something very strange is going on in Denver and Tebow -- option runs and all -- is the linchpin to it all.
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You wrote in your article that he is unlikely to never make a Pro Bowl. The last time I checked it was fans that voted for players to go to the Pro Bowl. I cannot name a single player with more fans and critics than Tebow. However, since you cannot vote someone out of the Pro Bowl, his detractors get no say. Don't be surprised if he makes one very soon.
-- Michael, Pittsburgh
If NBA fans voted Yao Ming into the All-Star game despite him not playing a single game (thanks, China), than I suppose Tebow going to Hawaii is not out of the question. But with such a plethora of quality quarterbacks, even in the AFC -- i.e. Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger -- I'd be hard pressed to say he will. At some level, you have to put up numbers (at least 20 TDs) to make a Pro Bowl. Then again, perhaps no All-Star game means less to its league than the Pro Bowl. Even the MLB Futures Game carries more weight, so Michael, you may just be right. This is a popularity contest and no athlete right now is more polarizing than Tim Tebow.
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Yours seemed to be a pretty fair article on Tim Tebow on Monday. I was glad to see it. You wrote that "one thing Tim Tebow does do ... is win" and "He inspires confidence within his team," so clearly you're not among the many Tebow-bashers I've heard out there who seem to criticize Tebow to such an extent ...
You did say that Tebow "leaves sitting ducks in the air for defenses." The fact is that, so far this year, Tebow has attempted 105 passes and only ONE of those "sitting ducks" has been picked off. On the other hand, SEVEN times as many of them have gone for touchdowns.
By way of comparison, this season the highly-praised Cam Newton has attempted THREE TIMES as many passes (327) as Tebow has and he's had TEN TIMES as many of them intercepted. If Newton, like Tebow, had SEVEN TIMES as many TD passes as he had interceptions, he'd have 70 TD passes already this season. (He only has 11.)
-- Bill Scanlon, Ellicott City, Md.
First of all Bill, there is way too much math in this email for a sports columnist. But, I do think I get your point. Vick (whose excerpt is not included above) and Newton make a ton of mistakes, no question. You have to consider the circumstances though. Those are two guys, both the focal points of their offenses, who are asked every week to win games with their arms.
As alluded to in the column, Denver coach John Fox has oversimplified this offense beyond anything we've ever seen. For goodness sake, the Broncos were running a read-option against Kansas City in Week 10. A read-option? This is the NFL! As impressive as San Francisco's Alex Smith has been this season with vast improvements, much of it has to do with the play-calling. Smith -- not unlike Tebow -- is being asked to check down instead of making 'hero' throws. To be certain, you absolutely must have a real sense of maturity and understanding to make those throws as well. However, dumping down to a slot receiver for six yards or tossing a four yarder out to the flat will limit mistakes. In other words, Tebow is averaging 5.67 yards per throw (which would rank second-to-last in the league with enough attempts). Vick and Newton will sometimes throw 40 times a game, five or six of which are down the field. As for the sitting ducks, I'm pretty sure this throw sums up my point.
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Liked your review of Austin Rivers. I watched his Dad (Doc) play high school basketball at Proviso East. He is a better player than his Dad and Doc was pretty damn good. I officiate high school basketball here in Illinois & have officiated a lot of excellent players over the years such as Derek Rose, Jon Scheyer, Chris Collins, Michael Finley, Kevin Garnett etc.
Again, excellent review of Austin.
-- Stan Mitchell, Illinois
I've gotten a mixed response from my review of Rivers. Let me be clear: In no way am I saying he is a superstar yet. Without question, he struggles amidst contact in the lane and must put on at least 10 lbs. of muscle to absorb the body blows and finish. He also looked miserable as a help side defender against Michigan State, showing a complete lack of desire to take a charge or at least step up. His physical attributes -- while impressive -- cannot make up for his lack of skill level and his basic fundamentals. And, my concerns before the season that he isn't a real point guard have been validated because he just doesn't have the court vision or mentality to facilitate. Furthermore, we can take it a little farther and say he is shooting 30.8 percent off of jump shots and is shooting 40 percent around the basket. The guy has holes in his game, but so does every other freshmen in America and so did recent No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving.
Honestly though, sometimes you just have to throw out the numbers and use the eye-test. When I watch Rivers play, I see a dynamic slasher who can fill it up in a hurry and ultimately, at worst become a No. 2 on a good NBA team. He is extremely explosive off the bounce, has terrific range on his jumper and perhaps most importantly, has the necessary swag and killer instinct to become a prolific scorer, both in college and in the league.
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How can Tony Dungy bad mouth Peyton Manning? The only thing that made Dungy a good coach was Peyton. So soon they forget.
-- Tom Goeman, Gulfport, Miss.
Tony Dungy is a class act of all class acts. To be sure, he absolutely did not bad mouth Manning. I think the main thing he was trying to communicate was that assuming Manning's neck is healthy, it would be worthwhile for the Colts' to at least entertain the thought of trading him. More so than ever before, this is a quarterback's league. Manning is 35 years old at this point and, while he could have another three great years left, he may also not. If he is, how much would a quality defense without a quarterback LOVE to acquire him? Think if Chicago had him instead of Jay Cutler. Or the Jets replaced Mark Sanchez with him. The bottom line is that Andrew Luck reminds many people -- myself included -- of Manning. He has similar poise, superb pocket presence and all of the leadership tools to become an elite quarterback in the NFL. Realistically, could Indy really pass up on him with the first pick? I think that is all Dungy was saying.
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