Broncos' Tebow stuck under critics' microscope

storapse@aol.comOctober 27, 2011 

Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow is a wonderful sports story.

Tebow added another intriguing chapter to his football life Sunday when, after an ugly performance for three quarters, he rallied the Denver Broncos for two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of regulation time for an eventual 18-15 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

The former Heisman Trophy winner threw two touchdown passes and then ran the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion and a 15-15 tie. Ever the team player, he let kicker Matt Prater boot a 52-yard field goal for the overtime victory.

Yet on Monday, ESPN's talking heads dwelled on Tebow's deficiencies -- uncoordinated, weak arm, wobbly inaccurate passes, happy feet, etc. Makes you wonder how this guy led Florida to two national championships, doesn't it?

Merril Hoge, once a mediocre fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears and now a pro football analyst, insists Tebow just can't play.

"He hasn't improved a bit," Hoge said with disdain in his voice and on his face. "He is making the same mistakes as a starter as he has made for two years as a backup."

There is no doubt that Tebow is a "work in progress," as his coach John Fox said after Sunday's game.

He was abysmal for three quarters. But so was Baltimore QB Joe Flacco on Monday night against Jacksonville and I did not hear the kind of criticism that was put on Tebow.

Instead, blame for the Ravens' loss was directed on the Baltimore game plan.

So what about Denver's game plan? Fox, whose conservative style got old at Carolina, is at least partly to blame for Tebow's performance over the first three quarters when he threw only eight passes. And why was he throwing so many long passes, which is not his forte?

It wasn't until the last five minutes, that Tebow was put in hurry-up shotgun formation and allowed to play his style of game.

There are some in Denver who feel Fox would not be upset if Tebow fails to make it as an NFL quarterback.

Upon his arrival in Denver he complained about former Broncos coach Josh McDaniel's decision to draft Tebow in the first round in 2010. Then, at the start of training camp, he said the former Gator was his third-string QB.

When the Broncos stumbled early in the season with Kyle Orton at QB, Denver fans started chanting "We Want Tebow." Fox ignored the pleas until two weeks ago, finally inserting Tebow late in the game against San Diego.

Tebow nearly rallied the Broncos in the fourth quarter and Fox really had no choice but to start him against the Dolphins.

Interestingly, last week the Broncos traded their No. 1 receiver Brandon Lloyd, which added to the speculation that Fox was setting up Tebow to fail.

The question of whether Tebow can make it as a quarterback in the NFL won't be answered until Fox loosens the reins on his quarterback.

Meanwhile, back in Charlotte, Carolina Panthers fans are happy that their new coach, Ron Rivera, made the decision to start rookie QB Cam Newton right at the start of the season.

That one is working out pretty well.

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