Tim Tebow isn’t the first NFL quarterback to defy limited expectations. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

Tim Tebow rarely if ever finishes a game with a 50 percent completion rate, which in itself is quite low for an NFL quarterback, even a second year player. His yardage totals are nothing to admire either, but Tebow has led the Broncos to four straight wins.

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It all sounds so familiar to me, like a quarterback with some ties to the Washington area, and to Florida, too. Doug Williams.

In 1978 when Williams was a rookie, he too was told he would never make it as an NFL quarterback. But unlike Tebow, Williams’ detractors were concerned with the color of his skin more than his mechanics.

A black QB from the South hardly stood a chance at making an NFL team, and his rookie numbers were proof for the people who stood by the old axiom. Williams was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were coming off a 2-26 two-season total, and riding a two-game win streak mind you at that. He completed just 37.6 percent of his passes that year, but unlike prior Buccaneers QBs, he had an arm. He threw seven touchdowns in 10 games as a rookie.

Tebow is knocked for being an option or gimmick offense QB and we’re being told he will never make the transition because that’s just who he is. But Williams was told the same thing, and in 1979 despite throwing at only a 41.8 percent clip, he led the Bucs to the NFC Championship game. While his numbers were not awe-inspiring like Tebow’s, Williams was a winner, and the Bucs won with him at the helm.

In subsequent seasons, Williams’ completion percentage would increase each year, to 48.8 in 1980, 50.5 in 1981 and 53.4 in 1982. There was steady progress each year, and while those numbers may seem low, keep in mind this was in a pre-West Coast offense stage of football. Doug Williams’ old offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs was instrumental in bringing him to Washington where they won the 1987 Super Bowl on the passing arm of the Super Bowl MVP QB. If given enough time, Tebow may yet blossom into a champion, just a different one than were used to.


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