11 Stories From the 2011 NFL Season That Are More Important Than Tim Tebow
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been caught up in the Tebow-ization of America. Even if you do live under a rock, that rock has probably been knelt on while someone pose-prayed on top of you for a new FaceBook profile picture.
One of my long-running complaints about sports is that one body (ESPN) decides what and who the stories are before games get played and typically sticks to those storylines no matter what. It’s crazy how loud the ESPN voice is in terms of deciding what we follow. ESPN has not only jumped on the Tebow Train, but they are proudly driving it. Tebow vs. Brady is the big matchup promoted across the channels this week, even though the two are in no way comparable outside of general profession. It was the second story on Sportscenter this morning, after the early Cowboys-Bucs game and before everything else that happened.
To set things straight, I have absolutely no problem with Tim Tebow. He plays hard, he’s a likable guy and he knows what he is. It’s not his fault that people are paying attention to him. But at the end of the day, Tim Tebow is a quarterback who currently ranks 32nd (last of all the players with enough data to qualify) in the league in passing yards and completion percentage, while heading an offense that scores 20.5 points per game with him as the starter. While that’s certainly impressive, it’s impressive in the bad way, like William Hung.
“But he’s won seven of eight starts! The guy is a winner!” This is the conversation that hordes of reporters bring up regarding Tebow, even though all of them know should about sample size error.
“And those fourth-quarter comebacks?” Sample size.
“But he’s so Clutch!” Statistically not a real thing. And if he can just turn the winning on and off, where is it the first 75% of the game?
At the end of the day, Tebow has only started eight pro games. Eight. Games. Ever. Total. Winning seven of those doesn’t prove anything. He’s beaten three teams with winning records (Raiders, Jets and Bears without Cutler). Are you impressed? I’m not. Tim Tebow isn’t good. He isn’t bad either. He’s just a guy whose terribly small data has been over-scrutinized by media looking to ride the wave of a story.
The unfortunate victim of the Tebow hysteria is the real news in the NFL this year. Here are at least 11 gigantic ones that should be louder than the Tebow noise, in no particular order.
1. The Packers could go 16-0
The Pack is 13-0 with games left against the Chiefs, Bears (Caleb Hanie) and Lions, it’s possible and borderline probable that we’ll see the second 16-0 season ever recorded.
2. If the Packers win out in the regular season, they will hold the all-time NFL record for consecutive wins
This current Packers team is already in the conversation for best team to ever play football, and a few more wins would solidify their case with some pretty serious records
3. The Colts might go 0-16
It would only be the second time a team ahs ever done it. If they can’t beat Tennessee, Houston or Jacksonville, the Lions franchise can breathe a big sigh of relief. Sure they don’t have Peyton Manning, but they’re still starting 11 pro football players on offense. Teams have injured quarterbacks every year and they win at least one.
4. We may never see another season with both a 16-0 and 0-16 team
As crazy as it is that we could have the second 0-16 or 16-0 season ever, it’s a million times crazier that we might get both AT THE SAME TIME. This really might be the only time is ever happens. Ever.
5. There are three players with a shot at breaking the all-time single-season passing record.
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are within arms reach of the Marino pace, but Dew Brees is significantly beyond it. There’s a healthy chance that he breaks that record and breaks it bad. And a healthier chance that he will throw for the most yards ever and still not get a single first-place MVP vote. (Sorry, Drew, Aaron Rodgers deserves it)
6. Drew Brees has thrown touchdowns in 40 consecutive games
Not only is Brees knocking on the door of the most single-season passing yards, but he’s also thrown TDs in 40 straight games (2.5 seasons worth) and is within seven of Johnny Unitas for the longest streak ever. Statistically, we will look back at the Drew Brees Saints teams and marvel at the consistency of passing-game success.
7. The offseason NFL lockout was handled pretty well
The simul-lockout in the NBA makes it difficult not to look back at the NFL offseason and appreciate how much the fans still got out of this season. The lockout wasn’t good news by any measure, but the damage control was pretty remarkable.
8. The Texans are still holding the top seed in the AFC, despite playing with the third-string quarterback
If the season ended today, T.J Yates and the Texans would lock down home field in the AFC. Without looking at the standings, I would imagine the Pats, Steelers and Ravens would have all had the advantage over the Texans, who have lost Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Arian Foster to injury for important parts of this season. Yates is 2-0 and currently holding serve in a pretty high-pressure replacement role.
9. Rob Gronkowski broke the single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end and he still has three games left for more
We’ve never seen a tight end used like Gronkowski. He’s the team’s top scoring threat and has 15 touchdowns through 13 games already. There’s no reason to think he’ll slow down.
10. Cam Newton is less than 200 yards away from Peyton Manning’s rookie passing yards record
I don’t want to say that Newton is better than Manning or even equate the two in some way, but Cam has put up some incredible numbers so far and might set a pretty high bar for first-year passers to beat.
11. The 49ers still haven’t given up a rushing touchdown
This story should be everywhere. So far, the 49ers have player 13 games and have yet to give up a rushing touchdown. Think about that for a while. It’s hardly believable. In my opinion, this is the single biggest story of the NFL this year (just ahead of #4) and stands out as a feat that I cannot see ever happening again in the history of the league. Even if the SF defense gives up a rushing TD on the first play of the game in week 15, this is still the single best season-long team rush defense effort ever.
Mark my words, Tebow will regress. He will lose games. Not because he’s bad; the expectations just aren’t realistic.