Friday, January 13, 2012

Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Tebow and the NFL

As my beloved Patriots prepare to play the Denver Broncos this weekend, everyone is focused on Tim Tebow. His fans love him - he's a winner, they argue. His critics deride his unconventional style; he can't throw the way an NFL quarterback must, they argue.

I find the entire issue of conventional wisdom in the NFL fascinating. Allegedly, you have to run the football to win, but then Green Bay won the Super Bowl last year by always passing! Consider even the three best quarterbacks in the game. Each was, in part, rejected at one point by the so-called experts. Brews was deemed too short among other things and discarded by the Chargers. Brady was not picked until the 6th round of the draft - too slow, too weak, etc. Rodgers fell to late in the first round due to various criticisms. How did that work out?!!

In general, NFL general managers have a terrible time selecting quarterbacks in the draft. Many top picks turn out to be busts. Yet, the conventional wisdom remains a powerful thing in the NFL.

The lesson here for other industries is to be cautious about the conventional wisdom. It can lead you astray. Moreover, one can become blind to the weaknesses of that conventional wisdom if you have been part of that industry for years. Always be wary of those who tell you that certain rules of thumb always hold in a particular industry.

I'm not saying Tebow will be a Hall of Famer. I'm just saying that not all quarterbacks must be carbon copies of some mythical prototype.


Justin Dorval said...

I think a prime example of someone falling into this mentality would be John Elway. The Excetive Vice President of Football Operations for the Broncos, who openly expressed his concern that Tebow "was not a good NFL quarterback." It was not until the Tebow craze hit the country and Tebow began to win more games that he had to adjust his comments about his team's quarterback. Whether or not he believes in Tebow or his comments is yet to be seen.

cc said...

No one loves an unconventional quarterback more than I... but I struggle to point to a successful one (if the ultimate metric = SBs). Cunningham, Vick, McNabb, Tarkenton, Flutie(!), et al... fell short.

Think you're comparing apples: oranges as the criticisms you pointed out for Brady, Brees, and Rodgers weren't the same as Tebow. The others could stand in the pocket and let if fly - he (and other scramblers mentioned) can't.

Even a boring 'don't screw it up' pocket guy can win - Paging Trent Dilfer.

So disagree re: mythical prototype. There seems to be at core some form of 'must be able to accurately pass' metric as required for QB's. Scrambling possible to some degree (Steve Young, Montana, Roger the Dodger)... but ante = accurate passing.