Time for Elway to think post-Tebow

Despite Tim Tebow's popularity with fans, Denver must start considering alternatives at quarterback. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

DENVER -- It is not John Elway’s fault the Tim Tebow experiment is failing, but it will be on his hands if he doesn’t find a solution.

It is clear the Denver Broncos' quarterback of the future is not on the current roster. It must be Elway's primary job to start making plans to fix the problem in Denver. The first step is to realize Tebow probably is not going to be the answer.

Whether it’s figuring a way to land Stanford star quarterback Andrew Luck via a trade (Denver looks like it’s on its way to a top-five pick, but it may have difficultly stinking enough to get the No. 1 pick), zoning in on USC’s Matt Barkley or Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, or even considering pursuing injured Raiders veteran Jason Campbell as a short-term answer in free agency, Elway must start his post-Tebow game plan.

I hate to jump to early conclusions, but it is safe to say Tebow is currently far from being a competent NFL quarterback and that the Broncos arguably have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL.

It was all there to see in blue and orange for the home folks Sunday during the Broncos’ 45-10 loss to the Detroit Lions. Tebow was terribly ineffective all game and the Broncos were overmatched. The patented Tim Tebow spark? Nowhere to be found. Denver was lethargic on both sides of the ball all game.

There was no wild comeback for Tebow after a mostly bad performance like last week against the inept Dolphins. Instead of playing poorly for 55 minutes before turning on the jets, Tebow was consistently bad for an entire game Sunday.

There was no playmaking. All we saw were badly overthrown passes, late decision-making and wild scrambles that netted little. Need statistical proof? Tebow was 18-of-39 passing for 172 yards. The Broncos had seven straight three-and-out drives and Tebow had an interception and a fumble that were brought back for Detroit touchdowns.

“We are embarrassed,” Denver tight end Daniel Fells said.

Added the always-earnest Tebow: “I’m just going to get up early [Monday] and go to work and try to get better tomorrow and consistently improve and be the best person and quarterback for this organization and continue to improve.”

Broncos coach John Fox was asked after game who his quarterback will be in Oakland next week. He said he needs to look at the film. Clearly, some of the shine on Tebow has been lost.

I don’t necessarily think Tebow should be pulled now. Is Brady Quinn really the answer? We know Kyle Orton isn’t. Tebow deserves more time, but there is no way the 2-5 Broncos can sit through nine more of these type of games with no offensive rhythm at all. Fox will lose his veteran players if he continues to start Tebow if he can’t quickly become a capable player.

“It’s only been two games,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. “But we only got 16 games.”

The problem with Tebow is he isn’t showing any signs of improvement as a traditional quarterback and that’s what the Denver brass wants to see. There is something technically wrong with every snap he takes. The Broncos want Tebow to show them he can be an effective pocket passer in the NFL. Rookie quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder already have shown they have the makings of being a quality NFL passer. Tebow, the No. 25 pick of the 2010 draft (a pick made by the previous Denver regime), is light years behind those players.

I know the Broncos aren't interested in just rolling out the ball every week and letting Tebow wing it and try to make something happen.

They worked during the week on his delivery, they altered their game plan to spread out of the offense and speed up the tempo to help Tebow. But strides were not made. In Tebow’s past three starts (including Week 17 last season), the Broncos are 0-14 on third-down conversions in the first half of games.

Tebow looks a lot more like a quarterback who is close to losing his job than a quarterback who is ascending.

In the end, I believe, working for Elway will shorten Tebow’s window of opportunity. Elway -- in his first year as the Broncos’ top football decision-maker -- was a Hall of Fame player. Watching that amateurish display on his home field had to worry him. He won’t let this go on forever.

One veteran Broncos player I spoke to Sunday said he understands why Denver’s brass turned to Tebow and why he must be given a chance. But he also wondered when Elway and Fox will lose patience. There is also a feeling in Denver that once fans -- who clamored for Tebow to be made the starter -- see that he is so far from being an NFL-ready quarterback that perhaps the Broncos will be able to move on.

Remember, the Broncos didn’t turn to Tebow because they suddenly felt he was ready to be a star. They turned to him because they were ready to give him a chance. Performances like Sunday’s must show Elway & Co. that now is the time to start thinking about the future at quarterback in Denver -- and it’s difficult to believe Tebow will be part of it in 2012.