The Denver Broncos are already dealing with too many question marks to name heading into the 2011 season—none more important than their head coach—but Tim Tebow may prove to be the answer to the quarterback controversy looming in Denver.
Kyle Orton seemed to be on his way out, no matter how the rest of the season played out and the rib injury was only the icing on the cake, especially with talk of the Harbaugh-Luck combo if Carolina passes on the Stanford quarterback in April.
The real question seemed to be how the Tebow experiment, at the game's most important position, would affect the search for a veteran, Super Bowl-caliber head coach.
Many scouts and coaches didn't share Josh McDaniels enthusiasm for the charismatic QB and surely someone of Brian Billick or Jon Gruden's stature wouldn't want a quarterback forced on them.
But since filling in for Orton last week against Oakland, Tebow has drawn rave reviews from NFL personnel, despite facing criticism throughout his short pro career, earning his first NFL victory in comeback fashion Sunday versus Houston.
Although the Texans pass defense ranks among the all-time worst, it was still good to see Tebow have success in a real, pro-style offense. His 300 passing yards jump out at you, but his poise and confidence with the game on the line truly defines Tebow as a player.
Facing a tough Oakland pass defense in his opening game the week prior, the former Heisman winner showed the ability to lead touchdown drives—no small feat for a rookie QB in his first start, using his legs and his arm to do it.
While Oakland's defense is not anywhere near elite, they rank third in the league when defending the pass and have done the most they could this year, despite an inability to consistently force turnovers and stop the run; look at Peyton Manning's solid, if unspectacular performance Sunday as further evidence of the Raiders' talent in the secondary.
This week, the Texans were the perfect recipe for Tebow to gain experience under center before heading into a Week 17 showdown against a very confusing Chargers team.
His ability to get the ball down field accurately, more specifically to Brandon Lloyd, who seems to have finally been able to put his amazing athletic prowess to use on the football field, meshes well with his opportunistic style, as Tebow more than makes up for his deficiencies as a traditional pocket passer with his clutchness.
The Frankenstein of Urban Meyer's spread offense, Tebow has a chance to translate his skills as a quarterback into success in the NFL. While it's still very early in his evaluation, he has exceeded expectations by a far margin, even though he was a first-round pick last April.
Blessed (and cursed) with a gunslinger mentality, Tebow's flair for the dramatic has, more often than not, worked out in his favor; just look at his college resume—people forget he was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman.
Can Tim Tebow be a Pro-Bowl caliber QB?
A little like Big Ben in his strong pocket presence and playmaking ability in the vertical passing game, the rookie has made strides as a passer since his college days and his work ethic suggests continued development.
At the very least, Football Jesus has God on his side—there's no way he could lose the day after Christmas—not to mention a talented, yet enigmatic Denver offense behind him.
Going forward, Tebow has shown potential coaches and maybe more importantly for Denver fans, Woody Paige (his recent article on he young QB is a must-read), that he can win football games as a professional quarterback.
If Knowshon Moreno and their offensive line can stay healthy, Denver has a chance to surprise some teams offensively next year if Tebow's sustains his success.
In the long run, though, Tebow's recent outings suggest that the Broncos can at least take a chance on him next year and maybe focus on retooling a defense that lacks true playmakers in their front seven.
The return of Elvis Dumervil and a hopeful infusion of speed and talent to a defense filled with average Joes and the occasional first-round bust, maybe the Broncos can stop someone on defense next year.
Always a classy and successful organization, the Broncos could use Tebow and the image of hope he brings to the downtrodden franchise.
After his first start, seven-year veteran Tommy Kelly said Tebow has a "bright future ahead of him," no small statement when you consider that it was his debut or that the Broncos lost the game by 16.
For now, Broncos fans can at least dream of that bright future with Tebow under center instead of just praying for it.
Jesse Paguaga is a Featured Columnist for the New York Giants on Bleacher Report. He is a regular contributor to Baseball Digest in the BD Baseball Fantasy Department.
Jesse writes for Gotham Baseball, along with Gotham Hoops, Gotham Gridiron,and The Jerry Magwire Blog (http://thejerrymagwire.wordpress.com/).
He can be reached at Paguaga@usc.edu or can be found on Facebook and on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/@jpags77.