To some who are watching Tim Tebow struggle to play quarterback for the New England Patriots—and struggle is a mighty generous way to describe what he's doing—there is but one conclusion.
It's not just that Tebow can no longer play quarterback, or any other skill position, in the NFL—it's that unless Tebow switches to a strictly blocking position, he is not talented enough to play in leagues like the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.
Tebow's skills have eroded so quickly, so shockingly fast—think heavy boulder dropped from low orbit—that it has actually stunned several scouts who have watched him closely for years.
The belief is that Tebow has been and will continue to be so bad, that the Patriots will have no choice but to cut him loose from the roster.
Now, just to be clear: None of this is presented as Tebow-bashing or a type of huge exposé. To some, this isn't even shocking. To me, some of this was. Scouts I trust saying Tebow isn’t fit to play arena ball?
Then I thought about it. I watched him play this preseason when he threw for negative yards and looked as graceful as two toddlers playing catch with a bag of angry cats. I talked to more people, watched Tebow highlights from his Florida Gator and Denver Broncos days.
And, I’ll be damned. It's clear. Tebow’s career as anything but a blocking fullback is over.
The reason why is speed. Speed doesn’t just kill; speed is currency in football. It’s the dollar, the deutsche mark. A player without a basic modicum of it is a brontosaurus in a league of tyrannosaurus rex.
That lack of speed is evident in three critical phases of Tebow’s game: his throwing motion, his mental acuity and his ability to avoid tacklers.
It’s not simply that he can't do these things now. We knew that. What's stunning, upon closer examination, is the rapidity with which these skills have been lost.
In the preseason opener against Philadelphia, Tebow was 4-of-12 passing for 55 yards. He was sacked three times and had a passer rating of 49. Then, against Tampa Bay, he had just one completion, an interception and finished with a passer rating of zero.
My suspicion is that the physical punishment he endured starting at Florida and continuing through the NFL has taken its toll in ways we may not have noticed before.
Look at Tebow at Florida versus Tebow now. He didn't blast by some of the best defenses in the SEC on his good looks and charisma. He did have speed. And he did have skill.
Scouts say they don't recognize the Tebow they saw in college. His regression has been so steep that I don't believe there is a league he can now play in.
The problem with Tebow playing in the CFL is that, while the league is obviously a lesser platform than the NFL, it's still pretty good. Don't forget: Warren Moon, who in my opinion is one of the top 10 NFL quarterbacks of all time, played in the CFL.
The level of athleticism has progressed significantly since Moon transitioned to the NFL in the early 80s. Also, the CFL has always been a passing league, and Tebow can’t, you know, pass. Or run.
The Arena Football League might even be a tougher league for Tebow. The arena game is gimmicky, but passing accuracy is vital because of the fast pace and claustrophobic field. All that league does is pass.
The AFL MVP this past season was Erik Meyer. He played then-Division I-AA football at Eastern Washington and was one of the most accurate passers in I-AA history.
In his current state, Tebow wouldn't last 10 minutes in either of those leagues.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick says Tebow is improving, but no one believes that. There's no way even Belichick believes that. Barring a transplant of Bart Starr's mitochondria into Tebow’s synapses, what we are seeing with Tebow is the end.
Unless he becomes a blocker.