Posted by Ryan Wilson
Two weeks ago, ESPN analyst Merril Hoge took to Twitter to elucidate all the reasons that Tim Tebow was in no shape, form or fashion an NFL quarterback. Hoge's string of tweets ranged from belligerent to unhinged, and while his delivery lacked diplomacy and nuance, the message was pretty much spot on: Tebow isn't better than Broncos incumbent Kyle Orton -- at least not right now -- and Orton gives Denver the best chance to win in 2011.
Hoge followed his Twitter tirade with appearances on ESPN to defend his position, and Tebow was left to answer the same questions that have plagued him since the moment he left the University of Florida: is he an NFL QB? Should he play TE or H-back or even LB?
After a stellar college career that included Heisman Trophies and national titles, Tebow has had a rough few weeks. This summer it seemed like the organization was set to trade Orton and install Tebow as the starter, but those plans were scrapped early in training camp.
Even after Tebow's preseason performance against the Cowboys (he was 6 of 7 for 91 yards and a TD), head coach John Fox called him "a work in progress."
Hoge has had a week to evaluate Tebow's efforts in Dallas, and much like his insistence that Vince Young would never be a legit NFL quarterback, Hoge is sticking to his guns on Tebow, too.
“You’ve got to look at a couple flaws that Tim Tebow had at Florida and still has in the National Football League that I don’t believe ever get better,” Hoge said, according to PFT. “First of all, his delivery is such an elongated motion that you have to have a complete, clear pocket for him to be successful down the field. If you don’t have that, you’re going to struggle.”
But what about the 43-yard Tebow-to-Matt Willis connection? It was as good a throw as you're going to see in the NFL, right, Merril?
Not so much, it turns out.
“Yes, he completes it, but that’s a perfect setting,” Hoge said. “In the National Football League, almost 50 percent of all throws are under duress. So you’re not going to have that every time.”
Hoge also reiterates that Tebow's long throwing motion is so ingrained at this point that it will be impossible to alter.
“That will never change — that will always be there,” Hoge said. “If they start Tim Tebow, players are not stupid. That coaching staff will have no respect from the players.”
|Can Tebow make it as an NFL QB?|
So, yes, Tebow remains a lightning rod for criticism, most notably from Hoge (which is saying something).
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge was at Broncos training camp this week and saw Tebow on the field working on his mechanics an hour after practice had ended. His instructor: John Elway.
"We kind of did everything in that period," Tebow told Judge. "Every type of drop. But more than anything, it was working on footwork and having the same footwork on every single drop. If you have the footwork, you have the same base. And when you have the same base every time, you can have the same throw every time."
While Tebow has heard Hoge's assessment of his abilities, he's not taking them to heart.
"I believe I can play at this level," he said. "I just have to go out there and show it and get consistently better. Every single day I try to get better and work as hard as I can on improving, and not worry about everything else, like what people are saying or what's happening."
Which, admittedly, must be hard to do. If Tebow is looking for a good laugh -- and evidence that Hoge doesn't always know what he's talking about -- he'll enjoy this clip from the 2008 NFL Draft. Hoge tells us that Brian Brohm, the Packers' second-round pick that year, would be better than Aaron Rodgers.
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