|Elway on Tebow: 'There’s nobody more supportive or wants him to be that guy than me.' (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
Tim Tebow is 6-1 as the Broncos' starting quarterback this season. It's something nobody expected, especially head coach John Fox and team executive vice president John Elway. After starting the season 1-4 with Kyle Orton, Denver is now 7-5 with Tebow and in first place in the AFC West. There's every reason to believe that the Broncos will finish the season 9-7 or 10-6, which means a trip to the postseason, but out of range to land one of the franchise quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III) early in the first round of April's draft.
We have this theory: Denver will instead sign some veteran quarterback off the free-agent scrap heap, announce that he'll compete with Tebow for the starting gig in 2012, and the six weeks of next season will resemble what we saw this season. Namely: the conventional drop-back passer will struggle in Denver's system and by the middle of October, Tebow will return to the lineup and the Broncos will promptly start winning.
But like we said, that's just a theory. One that's based on comments Elway made last month. Comments, by the way, that have since been clarified (more on that in a second). In late November, during a weekly radio appearance on a local Denver station, Elway was asked if he was "any closer to feeling if you have your quarterback on this team."
"No," he said after a pause. "I think obviously he's making progress week in and week out. When you look at our third down numbers, those have to improve. I mean, that's the bottom line. We can't go 3-for-13 and win a world championship. Those are the type of things we have to keep improving."
The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.
A week later, in an interview with CBS Sports' Shannon, Tebow was asked if he felt the organization was committed to him.
Sharpe: Do you believe this organization is 100 percent behind you?
Tebow: I believed that I am very blessed to play for this organization.
Sharpe: That wasn't the question I asked you -- whether or not you were blessed. I asked do you believe John Fox and John Elway 100 percent believe Tim Tebow is the guy that's going to get them back to winning championships?
A day after the interview aired, Elway spoke publicly about his remarks regarding Tebow.
"I was surprised in the fact that people took it to be a negative answer, and it really wasn't a negative answer," Elway said during a November 28 radio appearance. "That's where I was taken aback. It wasn't meant to be a strike at Timmy at all. It was just a reality check of where we were at the time, and it wasn't a negative because I tried to follow it up with all the positive things we were doing and tried to point out some things we needed to get better at."
Elway admitted that he needed to do a better job "communicating the message" and said the situation is "something I'll learn from."
And learn he has. In an interview with FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez, Elway may still be hesitant to proclaim that Tebow is the franchise's future, but he sees enough potential in the young quarterback that he's planning to work hands-on with him during the offseason. (We're guessing no one in the organization has had such conversations with Brady Quinn.)
“Do I know where that ceiling is? I hope that ceiling is a mile high,” Elway told Marvez on Thursday from inside his executive vice president’s office at team headquarters. “It’s just hard to predict. I don’t have that answer right now. But there’s nobody more supportive or wants him to be that guy than me.”
Tebow, who has yet to utter a controversial statement publicly, said the idea of working with Elway was "exciting."
“When you don’t have a coach helping you, it’s tough sometimes,” Tebow said “Every quarterback coach you’re working with always has great things to add. But when you’re dealing with a Hall of Famer and someone who has played the game at such a high level, he’s going to give you unique points of view.
“Situational football to fundamentals to whatever it is — that’s something he’s gone through at a crazy-high level. He can share information that not a lot of other people have.”
So what does Elway think Tebow needs to work on? Surprisingly, it's not the long wind-up (think Byron Leftwich without the arm strength).
“I don’t believe you change a throwing motion," Elway said. "I do believe you can really help your accuracy by your feet. That’s where, to me, Tim has so much upside. He’s improving. It’s just a matter of getting it burned into his reactions and mind.”
And that's the thing: if Tebow can improve his accuracy and understand what he's supposed to do from the pocket (where he struggles to decipher defenses and quickly go through his progressions), he could be really good. It would also mitigate the need to lean heavily on the read-option, a successful short-term strategy that could go the way of the wildcat before long.
No, we never, ever thought we'd write the words "really good" in relation to Tebow, NFL quarterback, but he's proven us wrong. And we're okay with that.
For now, the Broncos are concerned about one thing: maintaining their lead over the Raiders in the AFC West. And we need to revise our theory.
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