Tim Tebow: Is He the Denver Broncos' Godsend, Band-Aid or Just a Paradox?

Matt Goldberg@@tipofgoldbergCorrespondent INovember 23, 2011

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos prays during the final minute of the game against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Tim Tebow.

Those two words, and eight total letters, have already inspired such emotion and controversy, yet the 23-year-old starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos has only started eight NFL games. Yes, the Broncos' record is 5-3 in those games. More on that (not insignificant) point in a bit.

As Thanksgiving approaches, it appears that Mile High fans should be thankful that Tebow has injected new life into what looked to be another 4-12 season, or worse.

Indeed, at 5-5, the Broncos find themselves only one game back of the Oakland Raiders in a suddenly winnable, and mediocre, AFC West. It would be an oversimplification to say that this turnaround—no matter where it takes them at season's end—is all attributable to Tebow.

We don't know where their record would stand If just-released, conventional quarterback Kyle Orton were still under center. But this much is clear: Since the start of the 2010 season, the Broncos were 4-14 with Orton; with Tebow, they are 5-3.

Does anyone think that Denver would be any better than 2-8 or 3-7 if head coach John Fox and general manager John Elway did not, however reluctantly, turn the keys over to Tebow?

Those numbers are hard to shrug off, even if Orton may seem to throw a better, more accurate spiral.

The next question: Is Tebow the long-term answer, or a flash in the pan? Is his success, mostly based on a run-dominated offense that sometimes utilizes (gasp) option plays, just fool's gold?

In other words, is Tebow a godsend or a Band-Aid?

Those who only look at Tebow's present completion percentage (44.8 percent) seem to know the answer. This can't work. It's unsustainable, as many pundits love to pontificate.

They point to his somewhat long, unorthodox throwing motion and his propensity to run the football. This can't work, can it?

The irony is palpable. In my own words, the ultra-religious signal caller is, if you will, a fundamentalist with poor fundamentals. It is a paradox, of sorts.

The truth of this dilemma is that it will take much more time to sort this out, and my own hope as a football fan is that Tebow will have every opportunity to prove whether he can win.

His wins have not always (or ever) been Aaron Rodgers-like in their beauty and mastery of the passing game, but it says here that a 4-1 record with this particular team that could have packed it in is remarkable. And if Tebow has not done it with perfect fundamentals, he has done so with an immense amount of heart, will and leadership.

Could he be one of those players that are just flat-out winners, the type of guys that make their teammates better? So far, this appears to be the case.

One of the great subplots is that there is every suspicion that Fox and Elway never really wanted to turn the keys to the offense over to Tebow. It almost seems they are playing out an extended scene from Major League, where the strange crew of castoff baseball players wins despite ownership plotting against them.

Fox and company were, rightfully, given credit two games ago for designing an innovative game plan that resulted in a 17-10 win at Kansas City. Last Thursday? After an exciting mix of plays on the opening drive, both the strategy and the execution looked almost moribund as the offense struggled mightily.

As most of the sports universe knows, Team Tebow trailed the favored Jets 13-10 with less than six minutes remaining and the ball on their own 4-yard line. They were only that close because their veteran cornerback Andre Goodman had scored a pick-six, taking Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's errant throw to the house for a 26-yard touchdown.

The Broncos, who kept running into the Jets' stout line and producing nothing but frustration and three-and-outs for 54-plus minutes, had the game right where they wanted it. In Tebow's hands.

The second-year signal caller from Florida did not disappoint. He led them on a 12-play, 96-yard scoring drive, capping it with a 20-yard rumble into the end zone.

For almost any other quarterback, the drive was an improbability, if not an impossibility, at that stage of the game. For Tebow, it seemed to be another macabre day at the office.

Will this last? Is it, ahem, sustainable?

Nobody knows the answer to this, which makes this riddle so fascinating.

It stands to reason that teams will figure Tebow out (hey, in many ways most teams have already ), but if given a chance to develop, who is to say that the hard-working quarterback can't improve enough to be an NFL-caliber thrower, if not a Rodgers or a Brady.

To both the naysayers and the true believers: He has only started eight NFL games. And to the naysayers, he has won five of them with not much firepower around him, and for a coach and GM who don't exactly sing his praises.

Success at the high school and college levels is, obviously, no guarantee for success among the best players in the world, but Tebow was unusually successful prior to his entry in the NFL. With a resume that included a Florida state high school championship, two BCS championships and a Heisman trophy as a sophomore, Tebow seems to be a flat-out winner.

Of course, the Tebow debate gets so heated in part because Tim Tebow has always worn his religious beliefs on his sleeves,if not his eye black. He automatically has some slobbering, unreasonable, thin-skinned fans because of it, and some rabid, denigrating, derisive detractors because of it.

That probably goes with the territory and it appears that the youthful quarterback appears to have been  somewhat prepared for the avalanche of both undue praise and premature, overwhelming criticism that has engulfed him.

In this columnist's mind, I would be just fine if I did not know about his, or any other player's, religious beliefs, but that is not the case with Tebow. For now, I respect what appears to be a humble man who is quite sincere in his convictions. While I do not relish either of the following, I would rather be assaulted by his religious beliefs than by the egotistical ramblings of so many athletes and public figures.

But in the end, who cares, except for the fans and writers who only want to take the easy angles.

There is enough to be debated in Tebow's game to keep the rest of us busy.

He may not sustain his current level of success—and yes, playing .625 ball the last two seasons for a team that played .222 ball with their incumbent quarterback is at least a sign of early success—this year, or ever.

But right now, whether sustainable or not, I must admit that it is a lot of fun to see Tebow (however politely) stick it to all of the NFL in-the-box experts who "knew" he could never make it.

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of these pundits may well be eating their words, gravy and yams optional.

Gobble. Gobble.

As always, thank you for reading. Please check out my site, tipofthegoldberg.com, and new fan page for more info.


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