Moving the goalposts is an informal logical fallacy in which previously agreed upon standards for deciding an argument are arbitrarily changed once they have been met. This is usually done by the “losing” side of an argument in a desperate bid to save face. If the goalposts are moved far enough, then the standards can eventually evolve into something that cannot be met no matter what. Usually such a tactic is spotted quickly. (Moving the goalposts)
Logic does not seem to be the strong suit for many of today’s professional football analysts. That’s why so many former players and coaches can’t help but move the goalposts in their continuing campaign to malign Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback. Whether or not Tebow ever leads the Broncos or any other N.F.L. team to the playoffs or even a Super Bowl, his many critics will simply change the standards for judging whether or not the former two-time National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner is a “successful” QB at the professional level.
From Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino’s mocking of Tebow’s first NFL touchdown last season to Merril Hoge’s proclamation that “it’s embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow,” it has become obvious that some analysts have become unhinged (genuinely or for entertainment purposes) when it comes to evaluating Tim Tebow as a starting quarterback in the National Football League. Even though Tebow, in just three starts last season, put up impressive stats for a rookie (as compared to Sam Bradford for instance), analysts were concerned about Tebow’s being able to win games. He was 1-2 as the starter for the Broncos last season.
Fast forward to this season. Without much playing time at all before he replaced Kyle Orton as Denver’s starter, Tebow’s detractors pointed out that he played horrible in practice. Since he actually played fairly well in the pre-season, particularly in the last game against the Arizona Cardinals, folks had to move the goalposts when it came to evaluating Tebow’s performance. Hence, “Tebow doesn’t play well in practice.” Last I checked, whether or not someone had a good or bad practice did not translate into wins or losses on the football field. Just ask Kyle Orton, who was known for having fantastic practices, but managed to lead the Broncos to a 1-4 start. Would you rather have a great practice player or a great game-time player? Ideally you want both, but if I had to choose, I would take the gamer any day over the pretty practice player.
After Tebow was named the starter going into the bye week before the game with the Miami Dolphins in South Florida, the chatter among some analysts was that Tebow could not duplicate the spark that he had shown in the second half of the Chargers game. When Tebow, after admittedly playing poorly for 55 minutes, did provide a spark and become the first Bronco quarterback to lead a team to an improbable overtime victory against the Dolphins in Miami, many analysts did everything they could to downplay Tebow and the Broncos’ win in Miami, where they had an 0-7 record going in. Not even the esteemed John Elway was able to pull off what Tebow and the 2011 Broncos did against the Dolphins.
With the thrashing that Tebow and the Broncos took at the hands of the Detroit Lions, it looked as if the goalposts would not have to be moved again. Funny thing, though. When you begin to win, the critics become so confounded and confused that, in spite, they once again move the goalposts. After the Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders in the Black Hole by running it down their throats, the excuses for why this win would not be repeated began to fly fast and furious. Oakland, it was said, was not a good team (although they lead the division and have a winning record). Oakland did not have time to prepare for the read-option offense that Denver ran (even though the players and coaches said they had prepared for it). This style of play certainly could not be repeated. In fact, not a single analyst on AFC Playbook thought that the Broncos had any chance of winning against the Chiefs.
When the Broncos went into Arrowhead and ran it against the Chiefs (even after their top two running backs went out in the first quarter) and Tebow only completed 2 out of 8 passes (one for a 56-yard touchdown), you just know that the analysts’ heads are exploding. How could an N.F.L. team, in 2011, possible run it 55 times and only throw it for a measly 8 times and still win the game? Inexplicable. How can the Broncos possibly be 3-1 with Tebow as their starter, only one game out of first place in the AFC West?
I’ll tell you how — Tim Tebow is a winner. People like Merril Hoge underestimate the value of someone who has been a winner at every level. They can’t explain how Tebow and the Broncos have won back-to-back road games against division opponents (the first time since 1977 and only the second time ever). They are dumbfounded that a team can win running the ball (although Tebow has thrown a TD pass in each of his seven starts), even though runs are just as good as passes when it comes to moving the chains and scoring. The Broncos not only think, but they now know that they can win football games with Tim Tebow at the helm. The only one who should be embarrassed about that fact is Merril Hoge. However, I’m guessing that he and others will keep moving the goalposts on Tebow and the Broncos. Just as well. If the Broncos can somehow pull off the upset over the Jets on Thursday night, I can’t wait to watch how Hoge and non-Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter try to explain that one away. Whatever explanation they try to use, it will most certainly not contain very much logic!