Not one to let a perfectly good angle go un-worked, allow me the jump into the Tim Tebow controversy brewing in Denver. After all, drafting Tebow was the handiwork of Josh McDaniels, now the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator after having been fired as head coach in Denver. McDaniels might be Tebow's only friend in the NFL, the one man who felt strongly enough about Tebow's talent to trade up in the first round in order to draft him.
McDaniels left Tebow for a the more heralded QB and former Heisman winner from the 2010 NFL Draft, Sam Bradford. Not that McDaniels had much choice in leaving Denver. Now, Tebow is fresh out of friends, to paraphrase a line from Full Metal Jacket (greatest war movie ever made?), and probably not long for the Broncos roster. According to unnamed team sources, Tebow isn't even the third best quarterback on the roster. From the Mike Silver article that reignited the Tebow controversy:
If everything was totally equal, and this were a competition based only on performance at this camp, Tebow would probably be the fourth-string guy.
The only thing left to do for Tebow's future in Denver is to start guessing when and how they'll get rid of him. The preferred method would be to trade him, with the asking price likely to be low since he's only in the second year of his first-round rookie contract. He's due $1.6 million in salary this year, with a guaranteed roster bonus of $6.275 million due on September 2. They could also cut him and eat the financial hit, since most teams would prefer to pass on that kind of paycheck for a backup QB. And he might not even be a roster casualty this year.
One way or another, Tebow is leaving Denver. And here's where I get all hypothetical on you...
Suspend the particulars for a minute, and suppose the Rams give him a shot, reuniting with his sponsor and removing him from the spotlight, in as much as he can be removed from the spotlight.
The key here is to think of Tebow less as a quarterback and more as one of those specialty, versatile players so popular in the NFL right now who can also play quarterback. Obviously, the Rams don't need a quarterback; that position is locked up for a long, long time.
If you read the Silver piece or have followed football at all in the last two years, you know that the distance between where Tebow is at now and where he needs to go in order to be a regular, consistent NFL quarterback is significant, perhaps even too much to bridge for a talented QB mentor like McDaniels. So what exactly would he do in St. Louis?
Tebow's primary role would be in special packages. He would be something like a the hybrid tight end, full back so popular today...only different. Converting Tebow to a tight end is nothing new; people suggested it regularly in the conversation about his draft status last spring. I know nothing about his catching ability, but lining up in the backfield he would be a real threat running with the ball. Then, you've got the trick plays, the kind of Bradford hands off to Tebow who dumps it off to an open man sort of thing that could be a very effective weapon for "stressing" defenses, the stated goal of McDaniels' offense.
Working with McDaniels and Bradford might also help Tebow refine his QB skills enough to be a decent backup, one who could certainly give the offense an interesting wrinkle should he need to fill in on occasion.
All of this sort of depends on Tebow giving up the idea of being a starting QB above all else in the NFL, something the Broncos might be able to convince him off by putting him out on the street. Reuniting with the one coach who regards his ability would also help.
Part of the problem with Tebow revolves around our culture's sick celebrity-making obsession. We make celebrities, and we love tearing them down. Tebow, with plenty of help from himself, was made into a celebrity well before he made the jump to the NFL, creating an unrealistic set of expectations. There's probably also a lesson in here for those critical of the NCAA and its handling of student athletes, but I'll leave that to someone else.
Essentially, a fresh start might be just what the guy needs, even though Denver fans think way more of him than anyone involved in pro football in the Mile High City. The media circus would naturally die down around Tebow the role player. The Rams conservative approach to putting their players in the media spotlight and the city's well shaded spot in the NFL media universe would also help.
Take this with a grain of salt. The Rams don't have much cap space to take on a fifth cornerback, much less a player one year removed from the first round of the draft. Still, Tebow possesses talent that could be useful in an era where teams stress diversified offenses. Some team, some coach will find a way to utilize his abilities.