Gregg Doyel, who you might recall called out LeBron James in the post-game press conference after Game 3 of the NBA Finals, has now found his anti-Lebron in Timothy Tebow. On Friday, in the immediate afterglow of the thrilling Thursday night contest, Doyel tweeted out that “You play. To win. The game. And if this keeps up . . . MVP candidate.”
He measured his responses, saw the page view potential, then opted to go full on trolling by writing a full length column today. As a result, I measured my response, saw the page view potential, and have jumped in, hook, line, and sinker, both as the bait and the next guy with a trolling motor.
They’re winning because of Tebow. Or rather, Tebow is winning these games.
He doesn’t win them for 60 minutes, no. That’s what Aaron Rodgers has been doing at Green Bay, and that’s why, again, Rodgers can, should and will win MVP if he keeps it up. Anyway, that’s not what Tebow is doing. He’s not playing great for 60 minutes, mauling opponents from the first drive. He’s not. If anything, he has been borderline bad for the first 45-plus minutes of most games.
But then comes the final quarter, and Tebow becomes special. The defense gives the Broncos a chance to win, and Tebow takes over. He capitalizes on that chance. The game gets tight, the clock starts ticking down, and Tebow goes from awful to awesome. He’s Semaj NorBel — the opposite of LeBron James.
Tebow is the personification of the QB-first, QB-blame, QB-credit society, taken to it’s fullest measure. You could see it last night in the aftermath of the Eagles win against the Giants. Vince Young, who paved the way for Tebow, was not very good most of the night. His red zone interception was costly. He doesn’t throw that, he may not need a game winning drive. He threw three picks and missed on some plays badly. He ran to the wrong holes. The Eagles defense, though, decided to play their best game of the year. Some will now suggest they should start Young instead of Vick.
I’m going to go through some numbers, but hopefully only to the extent they reflect reality of what happens in games. Here’s what I don’t get. People will rail on the “stat guys”. Did people now championing Tebow as a MVP candidate or Young as the key actually watch these games? Or do we just re-write the story in post-production?
Tebow has been pretty bad through most of the games he has played in. His teams have gotten some good fortune (the onside kick against Miami, the fumble against Miami) and the defense and special teams have made plays (punt return TD against Oakland, interception return against Jets). He has made plays at the end of two games (Doyel tries to make it sound like he won all four with his late play), when he had been a negative performer who contributed to trailing in the first place.
Checking Advanced NFL Stats’ play by play results, they confirm this. We have two different measures, expected points added (EPA) and win probability added (WPA). EPA just measures every play equally and answers how much each play by that player (sack, pass, run, etc) adds to the expected points for that team, either positively or negatively. WPA weights higher leverage situations, so making plays late in close games will boost it, while plays when the outcome is decided have little weight. A player with a high WPA and lower EPA tends toward our “clutch” spectrum by playing better when plays have higher value.
Tebow is 34th out of 39 passers in EPA per game. Because he has played better in late/close situations, his WPA per game is improved. It’s 26th out of 39. That’s still below average, because Tebow’s play for much of the game is negatively affecting his team’s chances of winning. To compare, Tebow’s EPA is in line with Gabbert, Painter, and Skelton. His WPA is again similar to Skelton (who won two games late despite early poor play, but gets no love from Doyel), but far superior to Gabbert and Painter.
Denver is winning primarily because of defense holding opponents down within range, so that Tebow even has a chance to have a good drive after dreadful play for much of a game. If we are dividing up responsibility for the 4 wins in 5 games, the defense has an awful lot to do with it. Weird how that works, when you win 3 games despite not getting to 20 points on offense.
That Doyel thinks Aaron Rodgers is the leader, but there is still some question if “Rodgers” goes 2-4 down the stretch (regardless of how Rodgers plays) is asinine. The only way Rodgers isn’t going to win the award is if, well, he plays like Tebow the rest of the way. Guys named Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Tony Romo have something to say about Tebow as a candidate also.
[photo via Getty]