|Does Fox really have Tebow's back? (Getty Images)|
Tim Tebow set the world on fire during the Broncos six-game winning streak that put them in first place in the AFC West. But during Denver's final three games -- all losses -- Tebow looked totally different, and there's starting to be some serious chatter about the possibility that he could be benched Sunday against Pittsburgh if he struggles.
Our Broncos Rapid Reporter Lee Rasizer notes on Friday that Denver coach John Fox didn't "eliminate the possibility" during his press conference, although he did support Tebow's efforts as the Broncos starter.
"Well, he's on the football team," Fox said of backup Brady Quinn. "So everybody on the team's ready. Like every game, we expect our starters to play well and if for some reason an injury occurs or something happens, it's next man up."
Adding fuel to the fire is a report from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing a source that says backup Brady Quinn has been getting "roughly half the first-team reps in practice all week."
However, Quinn, in a text message to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com, denied Florio's report, saying he hasn't "gotten any extra reps." Quinn said he usually gets two reps, “if any” on Friday with the first team, but that he got two this week.
Over the final three games of the season (again, all losses) Tebow went 30 of 73 ("good" for a 41.1 completion percentage) for 439 passing yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
In that time, however, he was effective on the ground, picking up 5.11 yards per carry while rushing 28 times for 143 yards. The first-team reps can even be explained as "due diligence," considering the Broncos would need a non-Tebow offense installed in the event that they decide to yank on his apparently short leash.
The big difference between "Winning Tebow" and "Losing Tebow" is turnovers. (Which, actually, is kind of the difference between almost every good/bad version of a quarterback; don't let anyone fool you into thinking this is a Tebow-centric problem.) Tebow's fumbled four times in the past three games (two were lost), versus twice in the previous six games before that.
Add in the interceptions and defenses figuring out how to minimize the damage Tebow can do (press man coverage versus zone defenses)
And there's a pretty good chance that Tebow will struggle on Sunday against the Steelers. They are, if you don't know, pretty good at defense.
But it's still disappointing to see Fox waffling on his support of the Broncos starter, particularly since they'd currently be sitting at home without Tebow's emergence as a viable albeit different starter in the NFL.
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