Paige: McD says Tebow has the "It" factor
Tim Tebow has IT.
And he gets it.
So says Josh McDaniels.
"I think the thing about Tim is what everybody calls the 'It'. There are those kind of people that have that 'It,' " the coach said emphatically this week in his office at Dove Valley. On the wall beside McDaniels' desk is a large TV, and frozen on the flat screen was Tim Tebow, in his orange Broncos practice jersey with a football by his left ear — a start button for throwing a pass.
McDaniels looks at the image of the Broncos' rookie quarterback and compares Tebow's "It" factor to another quarterback he directly coached for five seasons in New England.
"When Tom (Brady) came to us in 2001, I wasn't on the offensive side of the ball, but I can remember the feeling in the building was that he had something that nobody else had . . . and how strongly he felt that ultimately he would be a great player. It was obviously apparent in subsequent seasons.
"I think when you get a guy, and he's waiting for me to tell him he's going to be a great player, we might be waiting a long time," he said.
McDaniels respected the confidence Brady showed then and admires the confidence Tebow shows now.
"That confidence affects everybody," he said. "We could see it last week at rookie camp. There were a bunch of rookies out there with no confidence, except him. He's got such confidence that he will just not let himself fail.
"And that quality sometimes is very underrated. There are people with a great deal of God-given ability who are fun to watch, and it's really interesting to see what kind of seasons they'll put together. Then there are guys who will say they won't fail, our team's not going to fail, and they have a 'I'm not going to let you down' attitude. And that's what you notice with Tim."
NFL scouts, coaches and analysts offered two alarming criticisms about Tebow the quarterback: his long, looping delivery and his lack of arm strength.
McDaniels has no concern about either. The Monday before the draft, McDaniels and other members of the organization flew to Florida to decide if Tebow would be their man.
"We spent seven hours with him, and I came away thinking that everybody keeps talking about the thing I think we can fix — that's my job as a coach — and nobody's talking about the things we don't have to teach him because he already has all that.
"I was struck by his intelligence, the way he understands the game, how I can have a great football conversation with him. I didn't have to sit there and draw it up. I would say, 'If they do this, here's what I want you to do,' and he says, 'I got it, Coach.' "
McDaniels implies that Tebow could play quarterback for the Broncos sooner rather than later.
"To me, (Tebow's acumen) gives him an advantage, an opportunity to play earlier than other people have played. Everybody keeps talking about it will be two, three years before he can play, and I think they don't know this guy. His mental capacity, and the way that he works, and the fact that he's on such a fast pace, will give him the chance to compete apples-to-apples.
"It's all going to be about his production and performance. There are a lot of rookies who can't run plays because they can't figure it out yet. That's not going to be the case with Tim. He'll be able to do the things (veterans) do."
During that final visit with Tebow, the coach began to explain the Broncos' offensive terminology, and the quarterback picked it up immediately. When McDaniels quizzed the QB about defensive fronts, Tebow proved he could recognize every variation and how to respond.
"You know what Tim doesn't know about our playbook?" McDaniels asked, then answered. "Only what we haven't told him yet."
And when Tebow threw at his private workout, McDaniels knew he wanted to figure out a way to wheel and deal in the first round to get him.
In Florida and at rookie camp, Tebow "threw into the wind, with it, across it, and there were no issues," McDaniels said. When Tebow threw long, "he would be looking, looking, then stand up, without winding up and all that stuff, throw 60 yards, just like that. He's got a really strong arm."
McDaniels points his remote control at the television, and Tebow is brought to life. Back and forth, fast forward, rewind, the coach reveals the rookie's throwing motion.
The problem with his delivery, McDaniels said, was not as much the left arm action as the right side body reaction. Tebow's nonthrowing arm was flailing, and his right side was bailing out. He's corrected the throwing motion and cocked position, is releasing the ball quicker, and has eliminated the inaccurate sidearm passes. McDaniels had Tebow tuck his right elbow, straighten his shoulders and concentrate on forcing the "15" (on his jersey front) to fall off (figuratively) when he throws.
"See, he's doing it, after just a couple of days," McDaniels said, looking at the screen. "What's it going to be like after 65 practices? He gets it."
IT is happening with Tim Tebow.