Tim Tebow’s a Great Story, But Numbers Don’t Stack Up With Early Careers of NFL’s Best Quarterbacks


Tim Tebow's a Great Story, But Numbers Don't Stack Up With Early Careers of NFL's Best QuarterbacksThe Tim Tebow story is an easy one to support. He was a winner in college, he leads by example, he is a good person off the field, his comebacks have already become legendary and he never really does anything wrong. It would be great if he were great at football … but he's just not.

Some may hold out hope that he develops into a more efficient NFL quarterback, and it's certainly too early to say he can't. Thus far in his NFL journey, however, he's not nearly at the same level as the rest of the NFL's best quarterbacks were when they began their careers.

That's really saying something, too, because Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were all various levels of mediocre in the early goings of their careers. Alas, Tebow is worse on almost all accounts.

After Saturday's brutal loss to the Bills that included four interceptions, Tebow now has 13 NFL starts over two seasons under his belt. Because the unorthodox quarterback has an unorthodox start to his career in terms of switching between a backup and a starter, let's compare Tebow's numbers to those other elite quarterbacks' first 13 starts and see where Tebow stacks up.

Quarterback Completions Attempts Completion percentage Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Most yards in one game
Tim Tebow (2010-11) 156 320 48.8 2,242 15 9 308
Peyton Manning (1998) 269 476 56.5 2,969 21 25 357
Tom Brady (2001) 242 374 64.7 2,599 17 10 364
Drew Brees (2002) 254 413 61.5 2,562 12 15 336
Ben Roethlisberger (2004) 184 275 66.9 2,445 15 9 316
Eli Manning (2004-05) 195 382 51.0 2,391 18 13 352
Philip Rivers (2006) 247 383 64.5 2,879 18 6 338
Aaron Rodgers (2008) 276 434 63.6 3,192 22 11 328

Those stats, obviously, are strictly passing numbers, and Tebow's 806 rushing yards and eight touchdowns cannot be ignored. Of the listed group, only Rodgers and Roethlisberger had rushing stats worth mentioning, and neither were in Tebow's stratosphere.

However, there's yet to be a hybrid quarterback who's as effective running as he is passing that's lasted long enough to join the top tier of NFL quarterbacks. Michael Vick's as close as they come, but rushing as much as he does has prevented him from staying healthy, a concern that applies to Tebow, regardless of his size and strength. In a quarterback's league, the most important player on the field is judged by how well he can pass.

In the field of eight that were chosen for this comparison, Tebow ranks eighth in four of the seven catergories, ranking seventh in two others and having the second-fewest interceptions.

The most damning numbers for Tebow are the attempts and completion percentage. The common thought is that with his few attempts, he limits interceptions, which is true, but if he were a more accurate passer, then he wouldn't need to limit his attempts. Tebow really can't ever progress if he doesn't drastically improve his accuracy, which is easier said than done, and the four picks on Sunday essentially threw that asset out the window.

But as bad as the numbers look, there's certainly hope — both for Tebow and for the Broncos. Roethlisberger's low attempts numbers pop because the 2004 Steelers went 15-1 that season, proving a team can be greatly successful without its quarterback making 30-40 passes per game. Roethlisberger started one fewer game in his sophomore season of 2005, the year the Steelers won the Super Bowl, and he threw 27 fewer passes. The Broncos clearly can win with Tebow as well, and they'll hope for similar fortune in trusting their running game more than the passing game.

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