Tebow makes the Broncos relevant again
BY DEREK BARSNESS, couchsideshow.com writer
As a once longtime Denver Bronco fan, my love for the team dwindled during the past few years.
Maybe it was going from the glory days of Elway to Brian Griese or Jake “The Snake” Plummer that was the catalyst for the loss in passion. Then again, maybe it was just a spark in interest in fantasy football, a hobby that can cause any diehard fan to abandon their own team without remorse. Call me a fair weather fan, but without Elway, the Broncos just aren’t interesting.
While the Broncos didn’t completely fall off the map, the team was never built for deep runs into the playoffs. After an ugly loss in the 2005 AFC Championship, everyone knew Plummer wasn’t the answer, but a young gunslinger from Vanderbilt, Jay Cuter, was thought to be the perfect fit. Garnering praise from scouts and many fans as the next Elway himself, Denver drafted “Baby Face” Cutler with the 11th pick in the 2006 draft. Sure he wouldn’t be able to run the naked boot as good as Plummer, but the arm strength was a fair trade in qualities. After Cutler nabbed the starting spot late in his rookie season, fans were practically booking flights and hotels to Super Bowl destinations for the upcoming seasons.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on where you stand as a football/Bronco fan) we are all too familiar with the Broncos from 2007 to the present. First there was the firing of legendary coach Mike Shanahan and the hiring of the feisty Bill Belechick protégé, Josh McDaniels.
With any coaching change, fans have a new optimism. This was quickly lost as McDaniels did his best to dismantle any thought of Denver Broncos 1.0 and move the newly renovated 2.0 version. He burned bridges with Cutler, then standout receiver Brandon Marshall, then tight end Tony Scheffler (all no longer with the team). And for good measure, he traded running back Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn. Quinn is now the third string QB; Hillis was just on the cover of Madden 2012. Enough said.
Maybe the best thing McDaniels did in his destructive behavior was draft college superstar QB Tim Tebow. If you follow sports whatsoever (which you likely do if you are reading this blog) then you know the Tebow. Be it his ability to run the spread option, his knack for winning close games, or his religious beliefs, the guy is a virtual poster boy for anything good in this world. If you want your son to have an idol, buy him a Tim Tebow Fat Head and throw his No. 15 jersey under the Christmas tree this year.
As far as what Tebow does for the Broncos, well that’s up for debate. However, one thing is undeniable; he makes them relevant. And as a fan (especially after last year’s 4-12 record) relevance is crucial. Just ask any Colts fan about relevance. Let’s just say that if you have to celebrate a meaningless win in week 15, you probably already canceled your Direct TV NFL package for next year.
Tebow won’t lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl this year. And probably not next year either. Too many things are missing. The once run dominated NFL has turned into a passing league. People talk about Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees before any star running back in the league. Heck, most teams platoon the running back position as it is. The days of Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and Marshall Faulk have given way to backs that have a 4-year stellar career then resign to backups — saved for the Adrian Petersons of the world. The NFL draft is always about quarter backs first, running backs later. Rules have changed so much that defenses get penalized just for sneezing near an opposing QB. “Personal foul, defense #92, intentionally passing germs to the quarterback. 15 yard penalty, Automatic First Down!”
The fact remains that Tebow is not a throwing quarterback. He has improved, but he still lacks an NFL style throwing motion. Yet he somehow wins games and makes the Broncos relevant. Flip through ESPN throughout the day and chances are you’ll see some debate about Tebow. His ability to run the ball effectively and complete roughly 50% of his passes will keep the Broncos in games until the 4th quarter, which is when the magic happens. Unlike LeBron James, Tebow shows up during crunch time.
With Tebow as a starter this year, Denver is 7-2. While the losses were ugly, the wins were thrilling, taking fans back to the days of Elway and his game winning drives. But fans should be cautiously optimistic. Take away a 14 point win against Oakland and you have six wins by a combined 23 points. This means the team is winning games they shouldn’t have. But a win is a win, and you have to chalk at least a few of those up to Tebow. He’s a winner and that’s undeniable. And like it or not, he isn’t going anywhere for the time being. He’ll remain the starter and fans will grow to love him even more.