AFC East: Tony Sprano
October, 23, 2011
By James Walker | ESPN.com
Robert Mayer/US PresswireTim Tebow led Denver to a comeback win after trailing Miami by 15 points in the fourth quarter.MIAMI -- What do you make of Tim Tebow?
Is he the quarterback who looked lost for three quarters and could not hit open receivers against the winless Miami Dolphins? Or is Tebow the magical player who led the Denver Broncos to 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime during a thrilling 18-15 victory?
After watching Tebow on Sunday, I don't have a clear answer. Neither do the Denver Broncos (2-4).
But the Broncos left Sun Life Stadium knowing their starting quarterback is capable of overcoming three quarters of awful football.
In essence, Tebow simultaneously added to his myth and legend in one wild game.
"Without a doubt, not everybody that plays in this league, or any league has 'it,'" Broncos coach John Fox said, praising Tebow. "It's a great quality to have. We got a guy, No. 7 [John Elway], who I work with every day, he had 'it.'"
The intangibles are apparent. Tebow has heart, smarts and charisma. He works extremely hard and says the right things. Broncos players in the locker room also said they believe in their new starting quarterback. Tebow feels the same about his teammates. That is part of his legend.
But heart doesn't throw the ball accurately downfield for 20 yards. Tebow failed miserably in that department. Charisma cannot fix questionable throwing mechanics, which led to Tebow completing only 13 of 27 passes for 161 yards. That has some thinking Tebow is all hype, all myth.
Tebow did not look like a starting NFL quarterback for a majority of the game against Miami. He wasn't accurate, he held the ball too long and was sacked seven times. Things were so bad that Denver ran the ball 39 times to protect Tebow, who was putting on an embarrassing display of errant passes. Tebow and the Broncos didn't convert on third down until the second half.
When asked if Tebow played well enough to win, unimpressed Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby bluntly said, "No. No. Not at all."
Tebow admitted he has to get "a lot better." He had two weeks to prepare for the Dolphins and only played well for about eight minutes, including overtime. Tebow led two scoring drives of 80 and 56 yards -- capped by a pair of touchdown throws -- and was clutch on a two-point conversion to force the extra period.
"As a football player, as an athlete, you can’t lose confidence in yourself," Tebow said. "Because if you do, then you’ve lost already. More importantly, I kept believing in the people around me that eventually we were going to be able to get things going. Eventually we did."
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins did manage to sack Tim Tebow seven times and limited him to 13-of-27 passing.
Tebow now is in tricky territory.
Denver won the game. Therefore, Tebow is entrenched as the starting quarterback. But the Broncos need to dig deeper to find out if their 2010 first-round pick is good enough to win games long term.
Based on what I saw for most of the game, Tebow is not the best quarterback on Denver's roster right now. Kyle Orton is. But Tebow is the most popular Broncos quarterback -- and that's part of the problem.
The Broncos might not admit it, but the team succumbed to the immense public pressure to start Tebow. There is a very large following of Tebow supporters who want to see him succeed. But if Denver's coaching staff truly thought he was the best quarterback, the Broncos would have given Tebow the job in Week 1.
Fox was able to endorse his bye-week decision with a victory in hand.
"Anytime you win, that helps validate just about everything," Fox said. "This game is no fun when you lose and we were able to pull it out today."
Tebow might have been one quarter away from playing himself back out of the starting lineup. He was shut out for three quarters against a Miami defense that entered the game ranked No. 26 in the NFL. In addition, the Dolphins (0-6) are in chaos with a head coach (Tony Sparano) who could be fired soon.
It's up to each individual to determine how much weight to place on Tebow's first three quarters versus the hot streak at the end of the game. Was it a fluke? Or is this part of the Tebow package?
"It's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems," Tebow said afterward.
The bottom line: Tebow is 1-0 as a starter for the Broncos in 2011. That's enough to give him more looks this season.
But Tebow's uneven performance against Miami certainly raised more questions than answers.
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