The Josh McDaniels legacy is alive and well in Denver. And Tim Tebow is the reason.
In the months prior to the 2010 NFL draft, Josh McDaniels, then head coach of the Denver Broncos, met with legendary Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and began making plans to draft him. McDaniels, known for his ability to get the most out of QB talent, saw in Tebow a franchise leader who could use his unique blend of skills to lead the Denver Broncos to the Promised Land.
Tebow, he hoped, would define the McDaniels era, quickly seizing the reigns from Kyle Orton and never looking back. Orton, who had been brought in through the trade with Chicago that expelled Jay Cutler, was a suitable place holder for the collegial collegiate, good enough to win games for the Broncos whilst his heir apparent was groomed at the hands of the offensive genius who had made Matt Cassell shine in New England.
Tim Tebow became the face of the new Denver Broncos the moment he stepped off the plane. His upbeat persona and clean-cut, Christian image resonated with Broncos fans who wasted little time investing the same hopes in him that Josh McDaniels had. Tebow’s #15 Broncos jerseys skyrocketed to the top of the charts in sales while followers flocked to Dove Valley to catch a glimpse of the boy wonder.
Very early in the 2010 season Tebow was given opportunities to demonstrate his superior scrambling skills in third-down and goal line situations. The Broncos were a 2-quarteback team. Tebow ran the “Wild Horses” and launched bombs down the sidelines in his substitution role. We all salivated at the notion of Tim Tebow as the one-and-only future starter.
What nobody saw coming was the firing of Josh McDaniels. Pat Bowlen grew tired of McDaniels act. We all did. Josh McDaniels was not ready to be the head coach of an NFL franchise. He was immature, foul-mouthed and dishonest. He had lost the Broncos locker room - and the support of the fanbase - almost entirely in the span of only two seasons. With McDaniels’ departure came the uncertainty that now surrounds Tim Tebow.
There is very little question that, if Josh McDaniels were still the head man for the Broncos, Tebow would now be the one-and-only. McDaniels had staked his reputation on it. His ego simply would not have let him back off on his allegiance.
Even in the wake of McDaniels’ firing, the new regime in Denver, lead by General Manager (and defacto owner) John Elway and newly hired head coach, John Fox, had every intention of trading Kyle Orton and elevating Tebow. A trade never developed, however, and neither did Tebow.
Forced to open camp with Orton still at the helm, Elway and Fox, along with the fans at Broncos practices, quickly saw a clear divide between Orton and Tebow in terms of ability to lead the offense. The new regime felt it had little choice but to relegate Tim Tebow back to the number two role. It’s difficult enough installing an entirely new system without having to coach up a young quarterback who has not done his homework.
The NFL lockout was a blow to Tim Tebow’s development. While he is a natural talent in many respects, he is not known for his mastery of NFL timing. Widely considered a “project”, Tebow needed time to work with trainers and coaches during the off-season. John Fox needed time to evaluate him. Players were not allowed at facilities, though, thus the lockout set Tebow’s development back – and it showed in camp.
Tebow’s reputation has become that of a “bad practice player”. Few people question his ability to make magical things happen on a football field. The Bronco’s offense, however is not magical. It’s not smoke and mirrors. It’s a simple run-first approach that favors a methodical pocket passer with immaculate timing. It favors Kyle Orton.
For Fox and friends to name Tim Tebow the starter for the Denver Broncos they will first need to adapt the system to fit him. Therein lays the problem with Tim Tebow. He’s not a quarterback that picks up a coach’s offense. He’s an enigma who demands the coach picks up on him. He’s Michael Vick before he went to prison. The offense must run through him for him to be effective.
Will the Broncos offense ever run through Tim Tebow? That’s the million dollar question. If it never does, Tim Tebow will be an unqualified bust. If it someday does, Tim Tebow could become the next great Broncos Legend. It seems as if there is no in-between.
Kyle Orton is likely to remain the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos as long as the Broncos are winning enough games to keep them in contention to win the AFC West. Elway and Fox will not gamble on Tim Tebow if there is a hint of a possibility of the Broncos reaching the playoffs. If, at some point in the 2011 season, they conclude that there is no hope of a post-season berth, they will probably throw Tebow out there again and give him a chance to win the job in 2012.
Orton will probably leave Denver by 2013 at the latest. He will be a free agent after this year. If the Broncos want to keep him around they will hang the franchise tag on him and pay out the nose for his services in 2012. I believe that, if they do that, the window for Tim Tebow will all but be shut. The Broncos will go back to the well and draft another young superstar to elevate instead. The 2012 draft is projected to offer the finest crop of quarterbacks ever.
No Bronco since Elway himself has caused such a stir in Colorado. Love him or hate him, you can’t take your eyes off Tim Tebow. For him never to become the man here would be a blow to the Broncos Franchise. Fans would look back and lament what might have been.
Wide Receiver, Brandon Lloyd, talked about “the Tebow thing” in referring to the quandary the Broncos find themselves in. Josh McDaniels’ legacy is alive and well in Denver, Colorado. By drafting Tim Tebow he left the Broncos dazed and confused and the fans in an absolute uproar.