Denver Broncos: John Fox Is Killing Tim Tebow's Career

Derek Estes@NotacowCorrespondent INovember 19, 2011

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos rushes for a first down on third and one yard to go in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Tebow rushed for the game winning touchdown as the Broncos defeated the Jets 17-13.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos jumped into the AFC West playoff race, but is Tim Tebow's long-term development worth the price?

In the heat of Denver's 4-1 turnaround since Tebow took over as starter, most people lost sight of what's really happening with John Fox's Broncos.

Tebow possesses everything a successful NFL quarterback needs that can't be taught. He moves like a runaway freight train, can launch the ball deep, and possesses more intangibles and leadership skills than Denver's 10 starting quarterbacks since John Elway combined.

No one motivates their teammates like Tebow, and his Thursday night game against the Jets alone justifies posting his picture next to the definition of "clutch" in the dictionary. Tebow posted 92 of Denver's game-winning 95-yard touchdown drive.

The problem is Tebow needs to refine his throwing ability, and he needs an open-scheme offense that will allow him to improvise and make the big plays.

But Denver's in the playoff race now, and that's what matters. At this point in Tebow's career, he's going to make mistakes in the passing game. Head coach John Fox can't afford that, so he keeps the ball on the ground. He uses Tebow's immense athletic talent carrying the ball, only giving Tebow the flexibility he needs when no other option remains.

It's like taking an unfinished sword and beating an opponent with it, rather than forging a weapon of true value. It gets the job done, but is neither pretty nor efficient.

Trying to develop Tebow's passing skills in Denver's current system doesn't solve the problem, either. Fox can't ask Tebow to spend his practices developing in a pro-style passing scheme, only to play in some triple-option variant on Sundays.

Tebow can't play this way forever. Much like modern-era running backs, he won't last much past 30 at this rate. And when he slows down, he'll have nothing left to bank on. He'll just be another player who used to be something special, like Seattle's Shaun Alexander. Alexander accomplished little after the age of 28, and was out of football at 31.

Fox can't let that happen to Tebow. The NFL needs a talent and personality like Tebow on the field as long as possible, and the Broncos need a real franchise quarterback again.

It's just a question of whether Denver wants a passable one now, or a great one for the next decade.