Shutdown Corner - NFL

Will the ‘Tebow Thing’ tear the Broncos apart?

If you're going to be a truly horrible personnel executive, it's best to have your moves still wreaking havoc with your former team even after you've moved on to greener pastures. Such is the case for Josh McDaniels, who did quite the waste job on Denver's roster in less than two full seasons before he was summarily dismissed late in the 2010 season. Getting rid of Jay Cutler(notes), Brandon Marshall(notes), Peyton Hillis(notes) and Alphonso Smith(notes) were the moves that set off bombs at the times they happened, but it was a 2010 first-round draft pick that may leave the largest impact — and not necessarily a good one.

When the Broncos selected Tim Tebow(notes) 25th overall in 2010, it moved the media hype around Tebow from Florida to the Mile High City, especially when Tebow played reasonably well in Denver's last few games after starter Kyle Orton(notes) suffered a season-ending rib injury. This offseason, the Broncos tried to engineer an Orton trade to the Miami Dolphins, but it hasn't happened yet. New team president John Elway and head coach John Fox may still move Orton, and if they do so in favor of Tebow, it sounds like the team's veteran offensive skill players might not be too happy about that.

According to Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, the Broncos are weighing two divergent factors: It's clear that Orton is far ahead of Tebow at this point, and even third-stringer Brady Quinn(notes) may be ahead of Tebow at this point in a pure football sense. But the Tebow mystique — the intangibles and off-field aura that have made him a star before he's done much in the league — have Denver's fans clamoring to see a guy whose jersey sales have far outstripped his football accomplishments to date.

"It's the Tebow Thing," receiver Brandon Lloyd(notes) told Trotter. "They'll put Kyle on the trading block because they don't want to deal with the Tebow Thing. But it's not going to end until [Tebow] plays. The faster they get this Tebow Thing over with, one way or the other ...

"I spent the entire offseason preparing myself for Tim being the quarterback, because the organization put Kyle on the trading block at the end of the year … what pass plays are we going to be running? Are we going to be running sprint plays? Throwing from outside the pocket? Running routes is easy, especially with a pure drop-back passer like Orton. But with Tim, the ball is going to be coming from different spots and different angles. That takes getting used to."

Tebow is a left-handed quarterback who's better out of the pocket, and the option offense he ran at Florida left him with a major uphill battle when it comes to acclimating to a complex pro-style offense. The Broncos were able to scheme around Tebow's limitations last year when the season was long over and everyone was marking time, but things become far more complicated  if Tebow is truly named the face of the franchise sooner than later.

At that point, the Broncos are building for the future, as opposed to trying to win now. That's never something the fans want to hear — and as much as they may want to see Tebow now, the glow could wear off fairly quickly when he's asked to lead the team and those limitations show up under a microscope. Many tape junkies have insisted that Tebow simply isn't ready for the NFL (not even close, in some cases), and ESPN "NFL Matchup" analyst Merril Hoge is one of them.

From his Twitter feed Wednesday morning (tweets slightly edited on our side):

Sitting watching tape of Bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!

Orton or tebow? QB play is not just about who works hard gives rare rare college speeches or who is a good guy!! Because orton works hard and is a good guy as well.

It's about who can play!! I just watched Tebow throw 5 out routes to a wide open WR! He was 1 for 5! 2 went in Dirt 2 in the stands!

That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!

You must possess a skill set to play! Tebow struggles with accuracy!

Football sense or fan pressure? Which way will the Broncos go? McDaniels, who's now working with Sam Bradford(notes) as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator, must be having a bit of a chuckle over the drama he created.

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