The rookie quarterback could get caught up in the ripple effect of the Broncos' firing of McDaniels, who was let go Monday after less than two full seasons. The Broncos are likely going to try to get off the hook for the remainder of McDaniels’ contract, using the Spygate II incident as justification that McDaniels could be fired for cause.
Sadly, this was all predictable, and the move calls into question whether team owner Pat Bowlen has a good feel for what should be done next to restore the 3-9 Broncos to competency after their run of 5-17 over the past 22 games. It was only last week that Bowlen first said he wasn’t looking to fire McDaniels, then issued a statement hours later retracting that.
[Rewind: Broncos fire McDaniels]
What may be just as predictable is that Tebow’s career may be over before he gets a real chance. Or as one NFC general manager put it recently: “The thing that’s tricky [about firing McDaniels] is what happens with Tebow. This is a league where at least 75 percent of the coaches and personnel people are not Tebow-ites.”
Whomever Bowlen turns to next as coach is likely to look at Tebow and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” McDaniels’ unwillingness to turn to Tebow as this season unraveled will probably be viewed as an indictment on the first-round draft pick.
The bottom line is that Tebow is an acquired taste who needs a coach who believes in him and is willing to work on his throwing motion until it has completely changed. Even then, there are significant questions about Tebow’s accuracy.
Outside of University of Florida coach Urban Meyer, who looks lost these days without Tebow (and Percy Harvin(notes), for that matter), few coaches are invested in Tebow. Of course, some of Tebow's devout followers will take this as a personal and spiritual affront. Save it, please. This is not about religion, this is about football.
As an athlete, few come close to Tebow’s dedication. He’s the kind of player anyone should appreciate. His work ethic is off the charts. His size and speed are certainly good enough to give him a fighting chance. But Tebow also needed a coach who was willing to work through the flaws, to design an offense around him, not just with any quarterback.
[Photos: See more of Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow]
So far this season Tebow has only been used on occasion as a Wildcat quarterback, primarily running the ball when he has played. He has 12 rushes for 28 yards and three touchdowns and has thrown one pass, completing it for a 3-yard touchdown. None of that is an indication of long-term success.
Worse, the coach who had so many grand visions for Tebow is now gone. McDaniels was the guy who traded up into the first round to get Tebow in April. He was the guy who fell in love with Tebow’s character the first time they met.
Too bad McDaniels was also the guy who didn’t think it through enough when a former employee approached him with the tape of San Francisco’s walk-through practice. Sure, McDaniels didn’t watch the tape, but he also didn’t report the incident to the league. Not smart for a guy who was in New England for Spygate.
Then again, if McDaniels had any foresight, maybe he never would have done a lot of things, like dumping quarterback Jay Cutler(notes), receiver Brandon Marshall(notes), running back Peyton Hillis(notes) and cornerback Alphonso Smith(notes). Maybe he wouldn’t have locked horns with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan so much that Nolan left Denver after one year.
[Related: Broncos to pay three head coaches]
Maybe McDaniels might have thought, “Hey, maybe taking a quarterback like Tebow with a first-round pick isn’t such a good idea when I need players in other spots to play now.”
Hubris was never in short supply for McDaniels. As one NFL assistant coach put it recently: “Josh really believes that he’s the reason Tom Brady(notes) has been such a success. Not that he helped Tom, that he made Tom.”
Never mind that Brady had won two Super Bowls before McDaniels ever coached him. Taking credit for Brady’s success, such as his 50 TD passes in the 2007 season, was just par for the course for McDaniels. Randy Moss(notes)? Wes Welker(notes)? Nah, it was all McDaniels.
“I know [former New England assistant and current Kansas City offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis is cocky," the assistant coach said, "but Josh makes him look bashful.”
The future looks bleak for Tebow. And the Broncos, too.