Tim Tebow won another game Sunday, rallying the Broncos to a 13-10 overtime win over the Bears. If that doesn’t warrant a follow-up blog on him, what does?
Denver is 7-1 this season with Tebow, the NFL’s most unconventional/controversial quarterback, at the helm. With three games to go, two of them very winnable (Buffalo away, Kansas City home), the Broncos stand a good chance of hanging onto their division lead and, against all odds, making the playoffs.
This, of course, would upset Tim’s detractors (who consider his playing style a travesty of a mockery of a sham) almost as much as it would exhilarate his worshippers. But maybe we’re looking at the guy the wrong way. Maybe we should be seeing him for what he is: not as a generic QB but as a left-handed one.
After all, left-handed quarterbacks are a different breed. (Heck, left-handed anythings are a different breed.) Only a handful of southpaw QBs have held onto a starting job in the league for very long, and fewer still have had any real success. Indeed, the only lefty QBs to win the Super Bowl are Ken Stabler (’76 Raiders) and Steve Young (’94 49ers).
Well, guess what? Tebow (8-3 overall) has won more games at this stage of his career – that is, before his 25th birthday – than Stabler (0) and Young (2) combined. In fact, Tim has won more games at this stage of his career than all but two left-handed quarterbacks in modern NFL history (read: post-World War II).
How is that possible, you ask? Answer: Because southpaw QBs have tended to be slow starters – either because it took them longer to develop or because they spent a couple of years (and sometimes more) as backups.
Young, who broke in with some dreadful Bucs teams in the mid-’80s, was 3-16 in his first two seasons before being traded to the Niners (where he played behind Joe Montana until he was almost 30). Stabler, meanwhile, was 27 before he got on the field much because the Raiders were well fixed in the early ’70s with Darryl Lamonica and George Blanda.
Anyway, here are the lefty quarterbacks who have won the most games before their 25th birthday (starts only):
8 – Tim Tebow: 8-3 with 2010-11 Broncos.
7 – Matt Leinart: 7-9 with 2006-07 Cardinals.
3 – Cade McNown: 3-12 with 1999-2000 Bears.
3 – Todd Marinovich: 3-5 with 1991-92 Raiders.
3 – Paul McDonald: 3-2 with 1982-83 Browns.
2 – Steve Young: 2-6 with 1985-86 Bucs.
Note that Vick was the only one to lead a team to the playoffs before turning 25 – or to win a playoff game, for that matter. (He went 2-2 in the postseason and quarterbacked Atlanta to the NFC title game in 2004.) None of the others (Tebow excluded) accomplished much of anything. Also note that Tim could tie or pass Boomer in these next three weeks.
Finally, here are the left-handed QBs with the most career wins:
96 – Ken Stabler (96-49-1, .661 winning percentage).
94 – Steve Young (94-49, .657)
80 – Boomer Esiason (80-93, .462)
78 – Mark Brunell (78-73, .517)
50 – Michael Vick (50-37-1, .574)
44 – Jim Zorn (44-62, .415)
As you can see, the bar hasn’t been set very high for Tebow. And as left-handed quarterbacks go, he’s well ahead of the norm for a 24-year-old. Whether he moves much farther up the list is up to him, but I thought the Tim Tebow Phenomenon deserved a little more – what’s the word? – context.