When Tebow was taken No. 25 overall in the 2009 draft, much of the media nationally, and fans locally, believed the Broncos reached for him.
His throwing motion was too long, and he took too much time to deliver the ball, the critics said.
And not even Josh McDaniels, who took the gamble on Tebow, could play him, opting to start Kyle Orton in 2010. Orton and the bad Broncos went 3-10 before the veteran was benched and the coach fired, which finally gave Tebow a chance to play.
In Denver's last three games, they won one—a crazy comeback led by the rookie Tebow.
This year, despite front office and coaching changes, much remained the same, as Tebow backed up Orton for the first five games. The Broncos went 1-4, and after fans booed Orton relentlessly and chanted Tebow's name, John Fox made the switch.
In his first start of the season, Tebow was terrible, and the Broncos were horrific for the first 55 minutes of the game. But the young QB didn't quit, and neither did his teammates, as they made the improbable, amazing comeback to win 18-15.
Denverites celebrated him, called him the "QB of the Future" and named their newborns Tim.
But last week, when the bad Broncos were blown out by the legit Lions, people were quick to blame Tebow for the loss.
While the young quarterback played badly, so did the entire team. It wasn't Tebow's fault he was sacked seven times on the day, or that the Broncos' offensive line was completely out-matched and out-muscled by Detroit's D-line. And Tebow didn't get burned by Calvin Johnson or give up a wide open touchdown to Nate Burleson—the Denver defense did.
The point is, Tebow is far from being an elite NFL quarterback, but his team is also far from being able to compete at this point.
Through five starts at the NFL level, Tebow's stats look like this: 984 yards passing with seven TDs and four INTs, while rushing for 321 yards and three TDs—solid numbers, all things considered.
Those numbers for Tebow, in his first five starts, were better than Orton's five starts this year (979 yards 8 TD 7 INT), his seventh season as a pro.
When third-string Broncos' quarterback Brady Quinn was last given starts in 2009, he threw for 1,339 yards, eight TDs and seven INTs in nine starts.
What does it all mean?
While Tebow isn't great yet, he's already better than the two other options the Broncos have at quarterback.
And given the fact that Tebow has much room to grow, the Broncos must stick with him and give him many more games to prove what he's made of.
Yes, second-year Tebow has played bad at times, but having Orton or Quinn at QB would be worse.
It would be worse, also, if the Broncos went in the same direction as their rival Raiders.
After losing Jason Campbell to injury early, Oakland decided to take a gamble and trade two first-round picks for the old and mediocre Carson Palmer. Sure, Palmer was once great, but he's past his prime and looked much more lost last week than Tebow has this season at any point.
Palmer came in at halftime, went 8-21 for 116 yards and three INTs, which is horrendous, especially considering it's his ninth year in the NFL.
It's bad in Denver, but it could be worse. The Broncos could be the Raiders, stuck with Palmer, without first-round picks in the next two drafts.
Yes, if you're a fan of great quarterback play, this Broncos-Raiders match up isn't for you.
The thing is, though, while Orton, Quinn and Palmer are all veterans, Tebow is still basically a rookie with potential to improve. The others have reached their respective peaks.
And one more caveat: Tim Tebow is 2-3 in his five starts, and even Broncos legend John Elway went 1-9 through his first 10 starts at the NFL level.
Tebow may never play at Elway's level—in fact, he likely won't—but the man must be given a long go, an extended chance to prove his worth.
The Broncos may not threaten to make the playoffs, but not giving Tebow a chance would be worse, killing his confidence while resigning to taking another QB in 2012's draft.
If Tebow fails to progress throughout the rest of this lost season, the Broncos will have to start over with a new quarterback, anyway. But if he succeeds, Denver will be able to focus at other areas of need, which are numerous.
The Broncos don't know what they have in Tebow; he could be terrible, good or even great. But it could be worse—they could have ordinary Orton or pedestrian Palmer taking snaps.
UPDATE: Tim Tebow passed 10-21 for 124 yards and 2 TDs, while running 12 times for 112 yards. The Broncos ultimately won the game, with a total team effort, including solid play from the defense and a TD punt return by Eddie Royal to give Denver the 31-24 lead. Willis McGahee ultimately scored the final touchdown of the game and the Broncos won 38-24, scoring 24 points in the second half.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being your CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman writes for Blake Street Bulletin, Stadium Journey, Bleacher Report, and Swoosh Nation.
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