Denver Broncos  

 

Broncos must have Tebow in mind during coaching search

The Tim Tebow era has begun in Denver without the man that handpicked him to be the future of the franchise. With Josh McDaniels no longer the head coach of the Broncos, the team is still moving forward with Tebow as the future.

Is this risky? I would say yes, without a doubt. But first let us examine how we got to this point.

Last week, Kyle Orton, the normal starting quarterback, had a rib injury, which could have allowed him to play. But with a first-round pick invested in Tebow, the Broncos' brass felt the time was right to make the move. Orton is not the future. Yes, he has a contract for next year, but none of it is guaranteed. Much like Donavan McNabb with the Redskins, the Broncos only pay Orton if he plays next season.

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So with no real investment in Orton and much riding on drafting Tebow so early, the Broncos are moving forward. They will be looking for a new head coach, and it has to be someone who clearly likes the idea of coaching Tebow and loves the idea of designing an offense around his skill set. One thing was clear last year in the draft: There was no middle ground with regard to Tebow. Some loved him, some hated him, but no one was indifferent. Everyone had a strong opinion.

Watching Tebow in his first start wasn't easy, as the Broncos didn't make their offense Tebow friendly. The Broncos were determined to run the ball on most every first-and-10 situation, which put him behind the 8-ball. Most might think running early would help Tebow, but in reality, the early downs are his best throwing downs. First down offers less of the defensive blitz package, and less complication for any young quarterback. Therefore, to judge him off of one game is impossible.

When I evaluated quarterbacks while working for teams, I always had a 20-game rule. Oftentimes, a young player can catch a defense by surprise and catch a defensive coordinator off guard. However, once there is enough tape to determine strong points and weak points, then a correct evaluation can be made. Once any player has success in the league, teams adjust, which forces the player to play outside his position of strength. If the player can then still dominate, he surely has ability. But if he fails to be successful, then he can expect the same game plan each week.

In simple terms, it's much like a basketball player who can only dribble with his right hand and the defense forces him left all the time. He will either learn to be proficient with his left hand, or he will not survive in the NBA much longer. Same with quarterbacks: They must prove they can handle an entire defense.

At this point in Tebow's career, (and probably for the remainder of his career) his feet, his movement and his toughness are his best qualities. Therefore, the offense around Tebow must work the field horizontally, along with vertically. The Broncos' brass, when selecting the next head coach, must know they can't hire a defensive coach and hope he has an offensive assistant who can make it work. (There we are, back to hoping instead of having a plan).

The plan for Tebow must be specific and must be presented in detail to the front office (do they have one in Denver?) before the next head coach is introduced. The next coach must be a believer in Tebow and have an offense prepared to be Tebow friendly.

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Is there such a person? Why there just so happens to be one coming to Denver this weekend, only he is on the other team.

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak once played quarterback in Denver; he once coached in Denver; and he once called plays for the Broncos during their Super Bowl days of the late '90s. Kubiak runs an offense in Houston that is quarterback friendly and extremely Tebow friendly, as well. Now, I am not trying to get Kubiak fired, but in reality he is on the hot seat in Houston and if Kubiak were to become unemployed at the end of the season, he would be the ideal fit for Tebow and the Broncos.

I am not a big fan of the zone running scheme being employed in Seattle, Washington and Houston. It had its place in the late 90s, and sure individual rushers like Arian Foster this season can have success. But now it has become pretty much obsolete in this sense: When a team running the zone scheme gets behind in the game and the defense knows they have to pass, their offensive line cannot pass protect and they end up getting further behind. The longer the game goes, the lack of size and physical toughness of their line wears down. The entire team becomes soft, and the defense lacks the ability to handle power. The system might have worked back in the day, but being a small offensive line -- or a light line -- does not win when the opponent knows it's a passing game.

However, even though I am not a fan of this offense, I am a fan for Tebow to be involved in this style of offense. It would highlight his overall skill level, plus he would add an element of toughness to the team.

So if Kubiak becomes available, he would be a great choice for Tebow and the Broncos. If Kubiak saves his job, then the Broncos might want to think of another coach from their past who can utilize this Tebow friendly scheme. Either way, the Broncos must make the right choice for Tebow, which then will be the right choice for their team.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

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