Tim Tebow: Confounding His Critics One Game at a Time

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[1] 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!



9 comments for “Tim Tebow: Confounding His Critics One Game at a Time

  1. November 16, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    I watched a good bit of Sunday’s game, and I was beginning to think the critics were right. That one little flare pass out into the right flat was about as bad a pass as an NFL quarterback has ever thrown. And then, boom, the bomb for the touchdown and the win!

    It is confusing. He’s obviously not the best quarterback in the NFL, but he is winning regularly.

    I just like the way he handles himself.

    • November 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM


      Given the intense pressure that he must be under, I think that Tebow has acquited himself quite well. I think it all comes down to his faith and that he sees football as just a game and not that important in the whole scheme of things. If he can lead the Broncos over the Jets on Thursday, then many of his critics will be silenced. If he doesn’t, then he will still handle himself in a Christ-like way that people will respect (even if they don’t fully understand). Hope all is well with you in Iowa. Will try to get back on track with my contributions to Voices. Have a great day and God bless,


  2. Matt Svoboda
    November 16, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    I just think it is funny how hell bent evangelicals are on making sure everyone thinks he is a great QB.

    At best, the evidence is mixed.

    • November 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM


      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hope you are doing well. I’m sure there are some evangelicals who are “hell bent” on convinving everyone that Tebow IS a great QB. There is no question that he WAS a great college quarterback (two National Championships and the Heisman as a Sophomore), but only his play on the field will determine whether he can be a great NFL quarterback. Is he great now? No. Has he helped lead the Broncos to a 3-1 record as their starter, winning in Miami (previously undone by the Broncos) and winning back-to-back games against division rivals (not since 1977)? Yes. I think for some evangelicals (including me who was already a Tebow fan from his Florida days), we tend to give him more grace in making the transition to NFL starting quarterback, based on not just his Christian faith, but also his past accomplishments at winning at every level he’s ever played at. However, if he fails to produce on the football field, then even his Christian faith and witness will not be able to save him from legitimate criticism (including from me). Everyone looks at the “evidence” from their own perspective and bias. When I look at the evidence thus far, I don’t see mixed as much as I see great potential, not to mention winning 75% of the games he has started this year. If the Broncos somehow beat the Jets on Thursday, look for the football world to implode! Have a great day and God bless,


  3. Tom Bryant
    November 17, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    To quote the late Al Davis, “Just win, baby!” He may not be a great pure passer, but if he wins consistently in the NFL, who cares?

    • November 17, 2011 at 4:17 PM


      I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments, but I can’t seem to bring myself to quote Al Davis, even if it helps Tim Tebow 🙂 If the Broncos somehow defeat the Jets tonight, we will be treated to more excuses as to why the Broncos are not really that good and why Tebow is horrible. But, in competitive sports like the NFL, the bottom line is winning. Here’s to Tebow and the Broncos being a cool 5-5 after tonight! Thanks and God bless,


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