Tim Tebow is making his first start against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Why this week? The combination of Denver Broncos interim head coach, Eric Studesville trying to make a name for himself during the last three games of the season with the convenient fact that Kyle Orton has bruised ribs has led to the perfect storm for Tebow.
This is the young quarterback's chance to prove to every team that passed on him that they made a mistake and he is in fact and NFL quarterback. Make no mistake about it though, the Broncos' insist that the plan to start Tebow is based on his talent, not because Orton can't go and he has taken almost every snap in practice this week.
Thus far Tebow hasn't seen much action. The game plans have only had him involved in select packages and if those opportunities didn't arise, he didn't even get on the field. Out of the 13 games Denver has played, Tebow has appeared in 6 of them. On the year the legendary college player has 13 touches including a three yard TD pass (his only NFL pass) and 12 runs for 28 yards and 3 TD's.
Interim coach Eric Studesville insisted this week that Orton is still his starter however it's pretty clear that if Tebow does well, with only two games remaining after this one that it would be wise to see what kind of NFL player they actually have.
For fans of the 3-10 Denver Broncos, this is pretty much all they have to look forward to the rest of this season. Sales of Tim Tebow jerseys have been a huge success this year and you'll see plenty of them around the league tomorrow, yes, even at the Black Hole too.
So what should fans expect from Tebow? The same thing the Oakland Raiders are, chaos. Think Michael Vick. While Tebow doesn't have the ability to run away from defenders like Vick does, he is a running back who can throw the ball so when a play breaks down, and Tebow scrambles, don't expect him to side. If Tebow is able to get the edge and break to the outside, when he comes up on a defensive back, if he calculates that the best course is not to attempt to go around him, at 6'-3", 245 lbs he'll drop his pads and run through him.
Tebow is not the easiest guy to bring down and he doesn't play like a traditional quarterback. He's has the size of a short tight end or tall fullback and the speed and shiftiness of a tailback. Don't be surprised to see Tebow drop his pads not just on defensive backs, but on lineman and linebackers too.
When I say to expect chaos, that's because in pre-season and in practices, Tebow seemed to be better when the play broke down. Expect the Broncos to place him in the shotgun whenever possible and run their offense as close to a game of street football as an NFL team can. You'll see Wildcat stuff, option plays, roll outs, moving pockets, almost anything but seven step drops where he has to read the defense and make precision throws.
The Black Hole is a tough place to get your first NFL start as it is can be loud and hostile in the heat of a competitive game and Tebow will have to rely on his SEC experiences. Tim Tebow is a rookie but he's played a lot of high level pressure football and I don't expect him to be easily rattled. The camera's and commentators will most certainly be breaking down his throwing motion and the way he holds the ball in the pocket since that has that has been talked about since he was in college. Reports are that his throwing motion has improved, but when he's got a 300 pound lineman coming at him and he has to make a play, expect the athlete in Tebow to take over and you'll see much of the same of what you remember seeing from him in college.
The Broncos will do everything possible to stay away from third and long, but when it does happen or if they get behind and he has to throw, look for Tebow to make his plays on the move. While there will be a lot of pressure on Tim Tebow here in his debut, there will be plenty of pressure on the Raiders defense too. Their will be many times defenders will have to chose whether to leave their man in coverage to defend Tebow running the ball and that will be his opportunity to make big plays in the passing game. - Mike Cardano
Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.