Tim Tebow: John Elway Smart to Jump on Denver Broncos QB's Bandwagon

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterDecember 12, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: General manager John Elway of the Denver Broncos watches his team prior to taking on the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

A word of advice to the legions of Tim Tebow doubters, haters and detractors still out there:

If John Elway believes in the Denver Broncos quarterback, then you should too.

The Broncos legend and executive vice president was no longer measuring his words of praise for the former Heisman Trophy winner during his weekly radio show on 102.3 The Ticket:

"Everyone believes that something good's going to happen. And, obviously, Tim's been the guy that's led that thinking. He's just such a strong believer. He's really got everyone else believing if you stay strong, stay positive, something good's going to happen.

"When guys are thinking that way — and it's been led by Timmy with that positive attitude — all boats have been rising with that."

Wow. Wait a minute. John Elway said that? You mean, the same John Elway who, but three weeks ago, was nitpicky and non-committal about Tebow's future in Denver?

When asked directly [in late November] by host [of Elway's radio show] Gary Miller if Elway is, "Any closer to feeling if you have your quarterback on this team," Elway paused, and answered, "No."

Elway then pointed to the Broncos' third down conversion numbers under Tebow as a key area that needs to improve. The Broncos made only 3-of-13 third downs against the Jets.

"I think obviously he's making progress week in and week out. When you look at our third down numbers, those have to improve. I mean, that's the bottom line," Elway said. "We can't go 3-for-13 and win a world championship. Those are the type of things we have to keep improving."

Now, see if you can spot any hesitation here among more of Elway's comments from after the Broncos' stunning 13-10 overtime victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday:

"If you look at just this season, and you look at the impact he had on just this season — not only athletically, of him running around and throwing the football — his presence has been just huge, (as well as) his confidence and his competitiveness.

"The transformation and the importance that he's had, by no means can you put a number on how important he's been to this team. I think he's rallied everybody around him."

Oh, and about Tebow's future in Denver, I think it's pretty safe to assume he'll be around for at least one more season:

"I'm hoping to spend as much time as possible with Tim this offseason and give him what I know, and be able to help him with the quarterback position."

Just your run-of-the-mill about-face. No big deal.

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Elway, like any thoughtful person whose job entails making weighty decisions, is more than entitled to change his tune when he sees fit. Clearly, he's seen enough to do so.

And why wouldn't he? The Broncos are 7-1, winners of their last six in a row, since Tebow displaced Kyle Orton under center. Last I checked, a quarterback's primary task is to win football games, and Tebow's done just that.

Granted, he's hardly lifted Denver from AFC West bottom-feeder to prohibitive favorite all by his lonesome. The Broncos have benefited tremendously from John Fox's fantastic defense, Willis McGahee's renaissance at running back and spectacular play on special teams, particularly from kicker Matt Prater.

None of that is directly attributable to Tebow, though. As Elway mentioned, the kid's persistent positivity, competitiveness and confidence has everything to do with how the team as a whole has improved over its last eight games.

As Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network has discussed on The BS Report, Bill Simmons' podcast, leadership is the most important attribute that an NFL quarterback must possess, far ahead of everything else, from arm strength and accuracy to pocket presence and the ability to decipher defenses.

By all accounts, Tebow is a tremendous leader, capable of inspiring his teammates to victory even under the most dire of circumstances.

As for the measurables, Tebow still has a ways to go, but is improving, slowly but surely. He completed 10-of-15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings in Week 13—his finest passing performance this season, at least from a purely statistical standpoint.

All things considered, though, Tebow's best quarterback impression came against the Bears. He finished with 236 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 21-of-40 passing after completing just 3-of-16 through the first three quarters. Of course, much of the onus for the early "struggles" falls on the shoulders of Denver's receivers, many of whom dropped pinpoint passes from Tebow before suddenly stepping up during the final frame.

The improvements in mechanics and skill will come over time. For now, what's most crucial is that Tebow's teammates wholeheartedly believe in him.

Having John Elway's seal of approval certainly doesn't hurt.

Your move, Tebow haters.