They don’t want to believe that a player can succeed outside of the blueprint. What happens when Tebow takes the ball is simple enough. He either runs with it or he gives it to someone else, or, very occasionally, he throws it downfield. What happens after that is more mysterious, and how you feel about it depends on your perspective and which of the chattering jackdaw commentators you listen to. His supporters say he is streaking toward a God-sped destiny. His critics like Merril Hoge believe he is an embarrassing fluke whose time will shortly be up — maybe against the New York Jets on Thursday night. Surely the Broncos can’t keep winning with their run-heavy game plan, behind this throwback, wedge-headed young leader. “Not for a whole season,” Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis predicts.
All Revis can muster for Tebow is some partial, balking, reluctant, half-mystified credit. “You’ve got to respect everybody,” Revis said. “He’s a professional NFL player. He worked hard to get here. Don’t get me wrong, watching the film, he’s made some throws. . . . He can definitely play this game.”
But the real problem in their Thursday night matchup, Revis suggests, will be ennui. “We can’t fall asleep back there in the secondary,” Revis said. “It can get boring, especially when a team just keeps running the ball, series after series, play after play.”
Can’t you just imagine Jets defenders watching film this week? The muffled laughter as Tebow absorbs those rib-aching sacks. The snickering at his footwork — not the dainty steps of a Tom Brady, but the dodgings of an angry stag. The sneers at his windup and delivery, slow as a winch. Then the baffled exhalation as he competes a 53-yard scoring pass and leads a team that is down to its third-string running back to yet another victory. The sudden silence in the room at the realization that he’s got seven touchdowns to just one interception, and his teammates will apparently follow him anywhere.
“The thing he brings to the table is, he has tremendous will,” Edwards said. “No matter how bad it looks, he will continue to compete, and that’s something players see and feel, and you can’t coach it.”
Yet even his own coach, John Fox, audibly struggles to compliment what he is seeing in Tebow. You can hear his quandary in game planning for a quarterback who can’t be trusted to throw more than eight or 10 times a game, this guy who never strikes the statue pose. The offense has been sketched on the go, cobbled together from collegiate option stuff, veer plays so old-fashioned as to be considered taboo. Listen to Fox talking to NFL.com: