ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Tim Tebow has provided plenty of fodder for his fans and his critics alike.
Just as his doubters proclaimed, he’s not a polished passer, unable to complete even half of his throws with flawed footwork, a messy motion and dawdling decisions that are at times as listless as his long, looping windup.
And yet, there’s no arguing with the results.
Just as his ardent fan base predicted, Tebow’s a winner, even if it isn’t always pretty. He’s 3-1 as Denver’s starter and the Broncos (4-5) are relevant again, no small task for a team that has gone through four quarterbacks and four head coaches since its last playoff game nearly six years ago.
He’s doing it with an unorthodox offense that looks a lot like the service academies on Saturdays.
Winning ugly? There’s no such phrase in his coach’s vocabulary.
“All winning is beautiful,” John Fox asserted. “That’s what most coaches live with. And this game’s only fun when you win. And it doesn’t matter how you win or by how many.”
The Broncos are hardly alone in their homely performances this season, but at least they’re prevailing in these gruesome games.
In a season filled with games that have fans flipping the channel, nobody’s turning off Tebow. His supporters argued that it didn’t matter how poorly he practiced in training camp because he’s a gamer and just needed a shot. Kyle Orton, more accurate but less effective, gave him that opportunity by losing four of his five starts.
The Broncos had to alter their offense and decided to give it the old college try, introducing the read option that made Tebow the best combination college quarterback during his days at Florida.
“I’ve never coached it before, so we’re kind of learning this thing together,” Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville said.
Since the AFL-NFL merger, no team had trailed by 15 points with less than 5 minutes left and come out on top until Tebow, who played awful for 55 minutes, suddenly couldn’t be stopped in an overtime win at Miami in his first start this season.
Tebow completed just two passes Sunday at Kansas City, but one of them was a 56-yard strike to Eric Decker for the winning score in a 17-10 win that included a triple option and a third-stringer at tailback when Willis McGahee (hamstring) and Knowshon Moreno (knee) went down in the first quarter.
From 6:31 of the third quarter at Oakland until 3:58 remained in the third quarter at Kansas City – more than a full game – Tebow didn’t complete a single pass.
And yet, he left Arrowhead Stadium as the only Broncos quarterback to beat the Raiders and Chiefs back to back on the road.
Just 72 hours after saying the key for Denver was to not be one-dimensional, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy dialed up 55 runs and eight passes against the Chiefs, an imbalance that usually leads to losses.
Since Tebow took over Denver’s offense, the Broncos have rushed for an NFL-high 915 yards, the best four-game stretch in the league in more than four years.