A couple weeks ago in this space, I discussed statistics for rating quarterbacks and how they justify the considerable hype heaped upon Aaron Rodgers. One might argue that the greatest appeal of pro football lies in watching quarterbacks like Rodgers throw touchdown passes, and the quarterback rating is a good indication of the game's most entertaining players.
But in the last few weeks, the biggest football star outside of Wisconsin has been Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, who took over as the starter seven weeks ago when the Broncos were 1-4. He has since led them to six wins in seven games and firmly into playoff contention. Tebow has attempted only 75 passes this season, not enough activity to qualify for the NFL's quarterback ratings. In ESPN's proprietary "Total Quarterback Rating," he ranks a lowly 30 among 34.
Some have knocked Tebow for his evangelical Christianity, which has included citing Bible verses on his eye black. And his practice of conspicuously taking a knee on the field to pray has led to imitators posting online photos of themselves "Tebowing" around the world.
But it's his play, which has disrupted the NFL punditocracy, that's most intriguing. Insiders, including Broncos legend and head of football operations John Elway, dismiss Tebow's throwing ability and resist addressing his record as a starter. That's partly because Tebow excels when running the "zone read" offense, a scheme used a lot in high school and college but scoffed at by much of the pro football establishment. He averages 5.7 yards a carry on 82 attempts and drives defensive coordinators nuts.
And if he keeps winning, he might change the way we appreciate watching the game each week.