Though not a typical topic to be addressed on a San Francisco 49ers website, the hoopla surrounding New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow does offer a few similarities that can touched upon in regards to the path of one 49ers quarterback. Recently Tebow has been in the news regarding his status and future with the Jets organization. As of right now, it looks as if the media darling will be released in the near future, with his destination still unknown. Reports had surfaced about his potential move back to Florida and possibly playing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, the Jaguars new General Manager David Caldwell thwarted that possibility with a quote made to the media.
"I can’t imagine a scenario in which he’ll be a Jacksonville Jaguar, even if he’s released"
From that point on, the media criticism of Tebow is again reaching a fever pitch. There seems to be two sides to the argument. One side, the Tebow supporters, offers his college success and the success he had with the Denver Broncos in the playoffs last year as proof that he is in fact capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. The other side, the conventional standards nation, claims that Tebow does not posses the correct throwing mechanics or the footwork to be successful in his role as a franchise leading quarterback.
And though both sides make excellent points, but they leave out some very key elements to becoming successful in the NFL or any sport for that matter. First and foremost, the quarterback has to be in the right offensive system to attain success. The Jets for their part had a horrible offensive scheme, one that did not lend to the success of any of their quarterbacks, let alone Tebow. It is reasonable to assume that any quarterback, no matter how talented he is, would have struggled in that system. And if you don’t think that the offensive system is that big of a deal, ask 49ers quarterback Alex Smith if it makes a difference.
Smith, prior to last year was mired in controversy for his entire career. So many voiced their opinion on how he would never make it in the NFL, and that he was not talented enough to man the starting quarterback position. He battled that for years, he still battles it to a certain degree. Sure he’s no Joe Montana or Tom Brady, but who is? Those great quarterbacks come along few and far between. But when Coach Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers, and implemented an offensive system that lent itself to the talents of Smith, he experienced immediate success. One year, that’s all it took to make Smith into a success as a quarterback, and he owes it all to the offensive scheme implemented by the 49ers.
The other major element to a quarterback achieving success in the NFL is the teammates that he has around him. Brady and Montana and all the other great quarterbacks did not win Super Bowls on their own. They had a supporting cast around them that provided them the opportunities to become great. Most notably the offensive line and wide receivers, with out them playing at a high level no quarterback is successful. The Jets had a terrible offensive line this year; they were sixth in the league in most sacks allowed during the regular season. Tebow had a great offensive line in Denver last year and he had a great line in college, it allowed him to be successful. And as far as receivers go, there has to be chemistry between quarterback and receiver to experience success. If that is not there, the hopes of having a high completion rate is not a realistic probability.
With offensive scheme and quality teammates as a must for success, the only question left is the mechanics of the quarterback. Is it a must to have statuesque mechanics to be successful in the NFL? In short no, it is not imperative that a quarterback posses the throwing motion of conventional classics. Case in point, Brett Favre, his punchers wind up had him throwing from around his hip on most occasions. Everyone praises his rifle arm and fearlessness in the passing game, but everyone seems to forget that his mechanics were terrible when compared to the standard throwing motion. And guess what Brett Favre has to his credit? Only the most career passing yards in the NFL, and the most career touchdown passes, and the most career completions, and the most career seasons with 3,000 or more passing yards, and the most career wins. Not too shabby for a guy that had one of the most unorthodox throwing motions in NFL history.
So success can be attained with even the goofiest mechanics. And that goes for any sport. You don’t have to be picturesque to be great. When it comes to NBA basketball, the young are taught to shoot a certain way, where your hands go on the ball, where to release the ball, how high you should jump when shooting the ball, etc. Then came along this guy named Larry Bird, he shot the ball from right next to his ear, he barely jumped when he released it, and his hand placement on the ball was not even close to how it is supposedly successful. Bird turned out to be one of the greatest shooters that the NBA has ever seen, and his mechanics did not approach what a jump shot is supposed to look like.
It’s good to have decent mechanics in your bank of talents, but lack there of does not make you void of being successful. As long as Tebow has time to get rid of the ball thanks to his offensive line play, as long he develops a relationship with his receivers, and as long as the offense he works in is geared toward his talents, he can be very successful. But a team has to be willing to make the adjustments, as the 49ers did with Alex Smith.
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