If you're one of the many Denver Broncos fans unhappy with team president John Elway's statements about Tim Tebow in recent weeks, you may now take a deep breath. According to Fox Sports' Alex Marvez, Elway is not only more on board with Tebow's future as the team's quarterback than he's let on at times, but he's also talked for the first time about working with Tebow in the offseason.
"Do I know where that ceiling is? I hope that ceiling is a mile high," Elway told Marvez on Thursday. "It's just hard to predict. I don't have that answer right now. But there's nobody more supportive or wants him to be that guy than me."
Proof? Well, there's this. Elway told Marvez that he will "spend a lot of time" with Tebow and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase once the season is over. Elway already talks with Gase about specific things Tebow might be able to do better, but he's been careful about meddling.
"In my situation, I don't talk a lot to Tim, but I try to help his coach out a lot," Elway said. "I don't want to step on toes, and everybody has a responsibility, especially during the season where there's game-plan stuff going on. I get (Gase's) evaluation. I talk to him about what I saw and what you could work on."
When Elway was less than enthusiastic about Tebow's future prospects in recent weeks, the greatest Broncos player of all time learned a valuable and unexpected lesson: It doesn't matter what you did for the franchise over that Hall-of-Fame career. The fans want Tebow, and many of them were less than pleased with Elway's qualifying remarks.
"I know everybody wants to know, but our future's right now," Elway said earlier this week, in one of many version of the same remarks about Tebow's future with the organization. "When you look at where we are, the future is the Chicago Bears. We've got three out of our last four at home. We're coming off five of six wins. So, we're excited to come home. I think the city's excited about it, the fans are excited about where we are right now. The future is now and I think the key thing is for us to continue to keep focused on each game coming up and try to win this division and get in the playoffs and see what happens."
Not good enough for the Tebowmaniacs out there, who have taken to Twitter with their displeasure over Elway's less than total endorsement.
But if this is a sea change in philosophy (and it could be, based on Tebow's improved performance as a passer in recent weeks), it could work out very well for everybody. Elway was a mobile quarterback who had a very rough start in the NFL and had to learn specific aspects of the position before he could become (in this writer's humble opinion) the greatest quarterback in league history. Elway would understand more than most that it takes a while to be an NFL quarterback, and given the frequent lack of organizational support he suffered early in his career due to his divisive relationship with head coach Dan Reeves, it may have finally occurred to Elway that anything less than a total public endorsement of his quarterback in the short term just complicates things. To that end, Elway recently communicated with Tebow in a way Reeves never would have communicated with him.
"I said, 'I know you don't read those things, but I know you're just like me in that your family and friends think it's their obligation to tell you something that was said about you. I just wanted to make sure that as long as you and I are always on the same page I'll do the best I can,'" Elway told Marvez. "I told him I probably answered with too sharp an answer which could be spun a different way. I told him I'm sorry it came out that way, but it's not the case."
There are a few things worth remembering when it comes to Tim Tebow's on-again/off-again relationship with NFL-level passing game concepts. First, the three games he started at the end of his rookie season don't really count — the Broncos were playing out the string, everyone knew there would be a different administration, and Tebow's playbook was set on 'sub-basic" as a result. When Elway and John Fox came in, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was retained because he was familiar with the current offense, and he had worked with Fox before. Still, the offensive system was going to be different, because fired head coach Josh McDaniels ran his offense his own way.
So, Tebow was going into a new offensive system in which he was not seen as the starter until well into the season, and due to the lockout, there was no opportunity for the new staff to tailor, customize, or correct what Tebow was doing in his off-season workouts. Working with Elway in this upcoming offseason could really ramp things up for the young quarterback; you could see an improved hybrid offense in which Tebow would be more of a consistent passer and different aspects of this year's zone read and other option styles.
Elway and Tebow, together again for the first time? It just might work.