Jussel: Broncos need to find out if Tebow is the answer at QB

We are two games into the NFL season and already know the Denver Broncos are not world beaters. Bengal beaters, yes, not world beaters.

Today, the Broncos venture into Tennessee to take on the Titans, a game that just more than a week ago looked like a possible — even likely — Bronco win. The Titans weren’t highly regarded going into the season, and their stock dropped even farther when they lost their opener to a bad Jaguar team in Jacksonville 16-14.

Stuff happens, however.

Last week, the Titans bent, folded and mutilated the nasty Baltimore Ravens 26-13. Tennessee, with new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throwing for 359 yards, controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes, and held the Ravens to a little more than 200 yards on total offense.

But the Broncos will not forfeit. They even have a ray of hope because many of the varsity boys will be back in action after missing the win over the Bengals.

Defensively starting linebacker D.J. Williams is back on the field.

Offensively, Denver will get a boost from the return of top wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and running back Knowshon Moreno.

So much for Tim Tebow’s pro career as a wide-out.

Oops! Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up the Tebow vs. Kyle Orton thing.

But now that it’s out there …

Let’s get real. Whether it’s Tebow or Orton at the controls, the Broncos are not going to win the Super Bowl. They won’t win half of their games. Going into their bye week the sixth week of the season, they will be 1-4 or 2-3 at best with Green Bay and San Diego on deck after today’s game.

Orton will be that much closer to becoming a free agent, as will Brady Quinn, the “other” quarterback. It will be time to find out once and for all if Tebow can play and his tryout period should become an 11-week audition.

I’m going to put on my John Elway hat at this early juncture because big decisions have to be made soon — and those decisions all revolve around Tebow.

Let’s say Tebow blows it, proving he will never be capable of guiding this team out of its doldrums.

Denver will need a quarterback. Barring a blockbuster Elwayian trade for the No. 1 pick, the Broncos won’t be in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes because Indianapolis has that firmly locked up already. Why in the world would the Colts bring the injured Peyton Manning back the last couple of weeks of the season and possibly blow that 1-15 or 0-16 and lose out on Luck, who would be the perfect replacement for Manning?

Kansas City could be in line to battle Indy to the end, but the Chiefs will beat Denver at least once and beat another team or two along the way to narrowly avert having the top choice.

The Broncos will have a choice of Matt Barkley, the Southern Cal quarterback, or Landry Jones of Oklahoma, both of whom are rated just behind Luck, but far ahead of any other QBs. Either or both will be available when the Broncos pick in the draft and both are of the Matt Stafford-Sam Bradford ilk.

That’s if Tebow fails his audition.

Now, let’s go the other way and say Tebow can play. He leads Denver to a few wins and gets Bronco Nation pumped. Instead of doing the Bronco Salute, everyone is doing the Gator Chomp.

If that happens, Elway and coach John Fox have proven their team can compete by battling in the trenches and playing conservative, field-position football. They only need a few more pieces to complete the puzzle and make the big jump to contender.

Instead of being forced into drafting a QB early, Denver continues on its merry way of building with the draft, taking running back Trent Richardson of Alabama, a younger, healthier, stronger Willis McGahee, if you will.

With a young offensive line getting better with age, Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers showing they can indeed rush the passer, Denver will be missing only one big piece to compete for all the marbles — a massive run-stuffing defensive tackle.

Some things not even Tim Tebow will be able to change.

Ah yes, today’s long-awaited pick.

I’ll take my 1-1 record and say the Broncos are overmatched by Tennessee’s rejuvenated passing game and the breakaways of Chris Johnson, who has averaged just more than 2 yards a carry this season. That won’t continue.

I make it Tennessee 28, Denver 20.

Rick Jussel is the former sports editor of The Daily Sentinel. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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