Denver Broncos  

 

Fox's QB history suggests Tebow will be his choice

If John Fox is sticking to his preference of wanting a "gamer" as his starting quarterback, then the decision over who should open the regular season under center for the Denver Broncos is a no-brainer.

The answer is Tim Tebow.

That's right. The second-year pro with only three career starts and the quirky throwing motion should be the one that Fox tabs to lead the franchise out of the doldrums.

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While many have suggested that the Broncos would be better served to let one of their veteran quarterbacks -- Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn -- lead the charge in the short term, it makes more sense for Fox to hand the ball to Tebow to jump start the rebuilding process.

As a natural leader with a winning pedigree, Tebow has all of the intangibles that teams expect from their franchise quarterbacks. He possesses the strong work ethic, toughness and charisma that endear him to his teammates. Don't forget he's also a clutch player with a penchant for rising to the occasion in key moments.

Tebow displayed those traits last season while leading the Broncos to a come-from-behind victory over the Houston Texans, leading a rally from a 17-point halftime deficit to take the game in the waning moments. This was a defining moment for Tebow because it showcased the "it" factor that earned him high praise from scouts and coaches prior to the 2010 NFL Draft.

Now, this is not to suggest that his game is without flaws or that Tebow has arrived as a player. Rather, it is confirmation that he has the moxie to orchestrate a turnaround in Denver.

If history serves as an indicator of what Fox will do at quarterback, then the high value of Tebow's intangible qualities puts him at the front of the line.

As an old-school, defensive-minded coach, Fox views quarterback play through a different prism. He has a preference for smart and tough player, rather than a flame-thrower with outstanding physical tools.

Remember, as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Fox once handed the keys of the franchise to a young and unproven Jake Delhomme. He responded by guiding the team to Super Bowl XXXVIII and an appearance in the 2005 NFC Championship Game.

In drawing the parallels between Delhomme and Tebow, it was the intangible traits -- not physical skills -- that prompted Fox to go with an unsung player in Carolina. It could very well play out that way in Denver.

While Fox is intent on tweaking the Broncos' offense to suit his preference for a ball-control attack built around a strong running game, the fact that he retained most of the previous offensive staff bodes well for Tebow to assume the reins in 2011. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and running backs coach (and former interim head coach) Eric Studesville, in particular, were instrumental in getting Tebow on the field last season and their knowledge of his game will help them tailor the offense to fit his skill set.

In looking at his three-game stint as a starter, Tebow is best described as an athletic playmaker with good perimeter skills. He throws the ball well on the run and is most effective throwing off waggle action while working to his left. His superb running skills allow him to extend plays outside the pocket, and he has a knack for finding open creases on predetermined quarterback runs.

Within the pocket, Tebow shows a strong preference for throwing to his left. He throws the ball with good zip and velocity, but is inconsistent with his accuracy and placement. Tebow routinely misses the mark on open receivers on crossing and vertical routes, and his underthrows are often dangerously close to resulting in turnovers. Although he shows better consistency when throwing to his strong side, he needs to become a more effective passer in the short-to-intermediate range. If Tebow can make significant strides in this aspect, there is no reason why the Broncos' offense couldn't use its full complement of plays.

Fox is intent on restoring the winning tradition in Denver but has been reluctant to name the quarterback that will blaze the path. If he stays to his traditional approach, there is no doubt his choice will be Tebow.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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