Broncos must decide if Tebow is QB of future

Denver Bronco fans asked for it, and they got it.

Out with Kyle Orton, Bronco fans pleaded after the team opened 1-4 this season.

In with Tim Tebow, those same fans begged.

Bronco fans en masse, certainly familiar with old folk tales, wanted to know if then-Denver coach Josh McDaniel knew what he was doing in moving up in the draft to select Tebow before his old boss and mentor Bill Belichick could do the same thing in New England.

In Tim, Bronco fans trusted. In Tim, they hoped.

John Fox, the team’s head coach who was against throwing Tebow to the wolves at the start of the season, at least partially because of the abbreviated training camp, pulled the plug on Orton and spent two months of the season trying to implement an offense that would work for one of the best collegiate players ever.

John Elway, the team’s executive vice president, was clearly not sold on Tebow early in the season, but warmed a bit thanks to an October-November win streak. His biggest and loudest support of Tebow, however, wasn’t really all that loud, suggesting only that Tebow “wasn’t going anywhere,” then adding this week, “He’s already got an edge to him. … I have full confidence he’ll bounce back and have a good week.”

So, just exactly what did the fans and the Broncos get in Tebow?

There are two possible schools of thought if you are Elway, Fox and others who plan on being around with the team:

One theory would be that Tebow is the unpolished product who can be coached up, that his ability to elevate the team is well worth keeping around.

He is a big boy, literally, with a strong arm, and he has the ability to run that is virtually unparalleled in the professional ranks. The coaches, maybe even Elway, can make him more accurate.

Don’t believe that?

Try this on: Tebow is not going to be able to lead this team anywhere — not now, not in the future — because he will never have the ability to throw the ball into those small cracks, never be able to make those quick decisions that are so often required in the NFL. He is perhaps worthy of being a backup for years to come, a bigger Gary Kubiak if you will.

That last theory, whispered at first, has become a roar the last three weeks.

Tebow couldn’t hold onto the ball, with several fumbles leading to easy scores for the opposition.

He threw interceptions, something he had steadfastly refused to do earlier in the season.

He was sacked as defenses collapsed from all sides as seven or eight defenders repeatedly circled the wagons, refusing to let him run the option or scramble. Keep him in the pocket, they said, and he will not hurt us.

The good thing we have witnessed from this Tebow trial is the resurgence of the Bronco zone blocking attack and the resulting rushing game, the league’s best.

You have to ask yourself, however, why wouldn’t this rushing game be just as effective now with Kyle Orton at quarterback, or Brady Quinn, or Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, Robert Griffin III or any other quarterback who has the ability to hand the ball off?

Neither Fox nor Elway will be able to be candid about their thoughts and future plans while the team is still alive in the playoffs. It won’t take long after that, however, before the rumors start flying and direct questions have to be answered.

Things will pick up in the rumor mill as soon as next week, perhaps out of Jacksonville, where Tebow is more legendary than on the Front Range of Colorado and Bronco offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is being targeted as a possible head coach (what does McCoy really think of this Tebow thing?).

Denver’s brass has to be looking down the road with Orton already gone and Quinn a free agent.

Think Elway was just wasting away the hours when he traveled to Stanford to check out Luck in person?

Think maybe he has lost some sleep trying to come up with scenarios to move up in the draft? You can make book that he has done more than his fair share of mulling over the prospects when it comes to deciding who plays QB in Denver for the foreseeable future.

It could be that he is, despite the recent downturn in Tebow’s stock, sold on the theory that Tebow can be coached up.

To my way of thinking, however, the second scenario is now more likely and may be much more likely after Sunday’s playoff game against the Steelers. Tebow is a relatively cheap asset, one that could give way to another QB, maybe even in Denver, who can throw an accurate pass.

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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