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Broncos have no choice: Start Tebow

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

Denver coach John Fox claimed he'd have to watch some film and huddle with his coaches before deciding whether Tim Tebow's(notes) electrifying and near victorious relief performance Sunday will earn him the starting quarterback job for the Broncos' next game.

He might want to also consider some unusual circumstances.

The game is in Miami, Oct. 23, after a bye week. And since the Dolphins are currently winless and even in decent times struggle to sell out Sun Life Stadium, the franchise decided this past summer to stage a promotional event. It's "Gator Day," an attempt at luring some of the region's 100,000 University of Florida alums to the game. The centerpiece will be a ceremony that honors UF's 2009 BCS championship team, a title won in that very stadium by a club quarterbacked by … Tim Tebow.

Some would call that divine intervention. Others a ridiculous and unfortunate coincidence – and why the heck are the Dolphins honoring Florida on the home field of their rival, the University of Miami, anyway?

It's just one more controversial debate for Tim Tebow to star in.

Be thy Tebow acolyte or accuser, proof of your faith was available Sunday when the Broncos turned their lonely, losing eyes to Tim.

It ended with Tebow failing to find someone on a semi-Hail Mary bid and a would-be second-half comeback became a 29-24 San Diego Chargers victory. The game will be best remembered for what almost was, courtesy of the most debated talent in the league.

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If you believe in Tim, then the jolt of energy he provided was undeniable. "Tim Tebow sparked the team today," Fox said. There was a rushing TD and a passing TD and the scrambling on that final drive that almost made a miracle happen.

If you dismiss Tebow, then you're probably pointing at his 4-of-10 passing (most of the completions against a prevent defense), the fact the touchdown was more the legwork of Knowshon Moreno(notes) and, of course, the final score.

As always, as ever, the debate will rage on, right through a bye week. Should the Broncos (1-4) turn the team over to Tebow and see what the former Florida star can do, or are all those critics who claimed he couldn't complete a pass against air correct and Denver should stick with Kyle Orton(notes)?

"We're looking to have long-term success with somebody," Fox said. "Who that somebody is I'm not sure."

To make it easy on Fox, it might as well be Tebow and it might as well be right now.

Denver has that bye week, which allows extra preparation for Tebow. Meanwhile the currently 0-4 Dolphins will be dealing with a short week following a Monday game against the New York Jets. And then there's the Gator Day deal, which should make a glorified home game for him.

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Look, Tebow isn't as great or as terrible as either side says. His reality is as a somewhere-in-the-middle-work-in-progress. He's been both lifted up to icon status and torn down on the television analysis shows.

Through it all he's remained an indomitable personality. The intensity of the criticism would've crushed many. You can't break Tebow though; he's relentless. Relentlessly driven, relentlessly confident, relentlessly positive, relentlessly relentless. He never stops … working, smiling, lifting, studying, believing.

"I was just very thankful for the opportunity and I tried to make the most of it," Tebow said. "Whatever they ask me to do I'm going to do with all my heart and have a great attitude."

That's the golden boy personality that makes him easy for people to love. And hate. And love to hate. And hate to love.

It's what led Bronco fans to cheer and chant his name even as the team lost its third consecutive game.

No one knows if he can actually play quarterback in the NFL. They haven't since the old Bronco regime drafted him in the first round in 2010. They didn't after he went 2-1 as a starter last season. They don't after Sunday's performance, which was more passion than precision. There are a lot of humble hard workers in the NFL, so that isn't enough.

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"We haven't had a chance to watch the tape," Fox said. "We haven't had a chance to watch the film, we haven't had a chance to visit as a staff."

The thing is that no one knows if he can't play quarterback in the NFL either. Which means Denver might as well give him a chance to put together a little more definitive body of work.

"The kid's a fighter, we always knew that," teammate Elvis Dumervil(notes) said. "Some things don't change from the collegiate level."

The Broncos almost traded Kyle Orton to Miami in the preseason, all but handing the franchise over to Tebow. The deal didn't go through and Tebow, by all accounts, struggled mightily in training camp.

Five weeks in and nothing's been settled. Orton hasn't been impressive. Tebow still has a long way to go. There's a big difference between subbing in and catching teams unprepared for his unusual skill set (he's a legitimate rushing threat) and having a defensive coordinator game plan against him.

That said, what's there to lose here?

The Broncos are going nowhere. Fox talked about improvement, but 1-4 is 1-4. There's almost no pressure on management. The fans clearly want Tebow. Fox is in his first year. The team president is John Elway, the legend of all legends who was just hired in January. The NFL isn't much for patience but if there was ever a crew that had a honeymoon period to work with, this is it.

If it doesn't work out, the consolation prize is a shot at Stanford's Andrew Luck, the sure-fire No. 1 pick in next spring's draft and the best Cardinal since no less than Elway.

Maybe Tebow is a keeper. Maybe he's not. Maybe he can grow and prove himself. Or maybe he's bad as some claim. Maybe first-team reps will jump-start his skills. Or maybe he's just a situational guy.

At least Denver will find out.

All anyone knows for sure is that Sunday the Denver Broncos played with more passion and purpose when Tebow was their quarterback than when he wasn't.

"He came in and gave us a spark," Willis McGahee(notes) said. "That's Tim Tebow."

All he's ever asked for is a chance. Might as well give it to him now.

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