Mark it down: Tebow best rookie QB ... in preseason Week 1

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
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For all those Tim Tebow bashers out there, and there are a lot of you for reasons still inexplicable, this news flash: The former University of Florida star and college football Golden Boy, despite his well-documented mechanical deficiencies, still was the best rookie quarterback on the field leaguewide during the inaugural weekend of preseason play.

At least from a numbers and composure standpoint.

Tebow impressed teammates with his composure and command in the huddle. (AP)  
Tebow impressed teammates with his composure and command in the huddle. (AP)  
The Broncos' first-round draft pick, and latter day Friar Tuck lookalike (we'll assume that, unless you live in a cave, you caught a glimpse of the hazing-induced coif that has since been clipped), completed 8 of 13 passes for 105 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 87.0 against Cincinnati. He also rushed twice for 10 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run.

Hardly gaudy numbers, to be sure, but still better than most of the dozen other rookie passers who played their first game in the first week of the exhibition schedule. Another rookie, Dallas free agent Matt Nichols, actually made his NFL bow a week earlier, in the Hall of Fame game.

Consider this: Tebow's eight completions might not sound like much, but they tied for the most by a rookie quarterback in Week 1. And he would have had a ninth, for roughly 40 yards, had second-year wide receiver Matthew Willis held on to a well-lobbed deep ball. Among the rookies with at least 10 attempts, Tebow's 87.0 rating was the best, nearly 30 points better than the combined passer rating (57.7) compiled by all the NFL's rookies, who threw only two aggregate touchdown passes versus the group's five interceptions.

Among all rookie quarterbacks, only John Skelton (Arizona) and Joe Webb (Minnesota), managed better quarterback ratings, at 158.3 and 122.9, respectively. But the pair, while playing well (Skelton had a "perfect" passer rating), combined for only 12 attempts and 25 snaps.

While he conceded to being rattled at times, Tebow demonstrated the kind of calm that made veterans pay attention. Noted rookie offensive lineman Zane Beadles: "He was in control of the huddle."

Notable was that Tebow, who unofficially played four series and 18 snaps, didn't take a single play from the "Wild Horse" formation, the Broncos' variation of the Wildcat, and a set most feel Denver coaches will utilize during the season. Instead, last weekend, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner may have demonstrated that he might be helpful in '10 as more than just a gimmick guy, even if that still figures to be part of his repertoire.

"Some of the stuff he does (in practice) ... it can't be simulated," head coach Josh McDaniels said. Another member of the Denver staff said Monday night that spread-type formations, which have become increasingly popular in the league, will be part of what Tebow offers the offense, and insisted there has been no decision yet on whether the former Gators star will be active on game day.

There remains "some possibility" the Denver assistant coach said, that Tebow will be listed as the No. 2 quarterback for games. That would mean another former first-rounder, Brady Quinn, who was acquired from Cleveland in the offseason and who struggled last week, could be the No. 3, or inactive "emergency" quarterback for games.

Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange.

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