So I'll preface this by saying that I'm not a believer in Tim Tebow. When he was first drafted, I thought "This guy is really physically talented and has a killer work ethic. There's no way he won't succeed in the NFL eventually." Then I saw him play.
I changed my mind immediately, deciding that no, he can't succeed as a quarterback in the NFL. Then, sure enough, the Broncos started winning games. Tebowmania came into full swing, and I was a "hater."
Still, even though I am no fan of Tebow, and even though I don't think he's the long-term solution, I think he's definitely earned the starting job next season (not just at training camp) for the Denver Broncos. Here are six reasons why:
Is Tim Tebow a great pocket passer? Absolutely not. In fact, he's the worst starting passer in the NFL outside of Blaine Gabbert, but I'll give credit where credit is due. He has delivered wins.
Denver's defense deserves most of the credit for keeping the games close; it's what allowed Tebow to do his thing. However, when crunch time rolled around, Tebow was able to make things happen. it was mostly with his legs, but he still made things happen.
The wins are there. I could make excuses for them, but they're still there. Going from 4-12 to 9-8 is something to take notice of, however it happened.
Whatever you say about his poor ability as a passer, he is certainly an athletic quarterback. He runs with speed and power and can find holes almost as well as a running back.
He's built like a linebacker at 6'3" and 236 lbs. and has 660 rushing yards for the season. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns on the ground. Even when he isn't just rushing the ball, when he gets chased out of the pocket, he can power through smaller defenders or extend play with his feet.
He's fast and powerful and can make plays with both his arms and his feet, and that's always a good thing to have in a quarterback.
The perfect example of this is Demaryius Thomas. Before Brandon Lloyd was traded away, it looked like Lloyd was all that the Broncos had at the wide receiver position.
Eric Decker showed flashes of potential, but everyone thought that trading away Lloyd would kill the season for Tebow. How wrong we were.
Demaryius Thomas came out of nowhere, his breakout game coming against Minnesota, where he had four receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Don't think those yards came from one huge pass either. His long for the night was 42 yards.
Since then, he's been a consistent downfield threat for the Broncos. In fact, it was his play more than Tebow's that won the Broncos their first playoff win since the 2005 season.
Also, the Broncos defense averaged eight fewer points a game under Tebow than under Orton (at least, they did by the time they were playing the Patriots).
Tebow seems to be a leader, and that improves the rest of the team.
Tebow's biggest problem is his throwing mechanics. If he could fix those, he'd be a serious threat.
When was the last time defenses had to deal with a quarterback who could run, was left-handed and had a pretty big arm? (Hint: Michael Vick and Steve Young are the answers.)
That's the kind of upside Tebow has. If he can get his completion percentage consistently above 50 percent and keep up the kind of stuff he does on broken plays while not turning the ball over (which he was pretty good about for his first four or five starts), then he'll really turn into something special.
That is a big if, but it isn't impossible. He's a perfect example of a high-risk/high-reward player.
Everyone knows you don't strangle the goose that lays the golden egg. Whether it's legitimate, Tebowmania is certainly widespread.
In the Broncos opening game, fans were cheering for Tim Tebow. Even before he was starting this season, Tebow jerseys were outselling any other players' jersey. People buy tickets to Broncos games to go see Tebow.
All of that translates to cash for Pat Bowlen (the owner of the Denver Broncos).
If the lockout proved anything, then it proved that, yes, it is all about the money. If a player is making you a ton of money, you keep that player on your roster if you can.
He's what the fans want, and you have to keep your fanbase appeased if you want the team to draw a profit.
There are a lot of quarterbacks that will be free agents this offseason, but Peyton Manning is seemingly done for his career and Drew Brees staying in New Orleans. Who could the Broncos possibly bring in that would be an upgrade?
Alex Smith? Maybe, but he isn't leaving San Francisco now that he has a coach that believes in him to some degree to go to a place where the fans will be screaming for his backup at his first start.
Jason Campbell? He's decent, but that's all he'll ever be (other than an injury risk).
Kyle Orton? Oh wait, you just released him.
Yeah, there's no upgrades available in free agency, and trading up to secure Robert Griffin would cost an entire draft.
Tebow is the best that the Broncos have right now, and he's what the fans want. They have to give him an entire year where he is unquestionably the starter, or they'll never be able to really evaluate him correctly.
Like I said at the beginning, I don't think Tebow will pan out in the long run. He can't pass and he'll eventually get injured running as much as he does. Still, he's done enough to be offered a real shot at the permanent job.