DENVER -- One Broncos player was asked about Tim Tebow, and his thoughts seem to be shared by others on the team I spoke to: Tim Tebow was always in over his head playing NFL quarterback, it's showing now, and he feels sorry for the former Bronco.
"When Tim was here we saw the issues up close," said the Broncos player who, along with other players, asked not to be identified. "The Jets didn't, and now they are seeing the problems, too."
He added: "I feel really, really bad for Tim. He's a good person, just not an NFL quarterback."
Several Broncos players told me it's almost impossible not to compare their situation now to last year when the team clinched the AFC West and made the playoffs late in the season. Tebow was portrayed as a hero for winning games at the last minute, but the truth is Denver was a better team than its close record showed. Tebow, in some ways, was holding the Broncos back. Harsh but true.
This season the Broncos won the division with a commanding win over a tough Tampa Bay team. Peyton Manning tossed three touchdown passes and with the exception of two or three throws played almost flawless football. The win was Denver's seventh consecutive victory, and in six of those wins Denver has scored 30 or more points. The Broncos are on track to win 11 or 12 games. Last year the team went 8-8 winning extremely close contests. With Manning, instead of Tebow, the Broncos look like a totally different franchise. Harsh but true.
Remember: There were some (including me) who wondered if Manning's body would hold up. It has.
"Of course we're comparing this year to last year," said another player. "This year we won the division with four games left. That's all Peyton Manning. If Tebow was here, we'd still be squeaking out wins, or losing games we shouldn't be losing. The division would be coming down to the last game.
"I've been following Tim in New York and I feel horrible for him. Everyone here, I think, wants the best for him. He's a good guy. But you can't turn Tim into something he's not, and he's not really an NFL quarterback. He's more of a gimmick player."
One huge takeaway I got from speaking to Broncos players about Tebow was their gratitude toward John Elway, the team's general manager, who pushed to sign Manning.
"By bringing in Peyton, we can compete with any team in football," one player explained, "Peyton is obviously that good."
He added: "I'm watching Tim and wishing him well but glad I'm here with Peyton."