Englewood, Colo. — Nobody’s questioning Tim Tebow’s character or work ethic, just his readiness.
The Denver Broncos have concluded he’s not set to start in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to cut ties with him.
The latest twist in Denver’s summer soap opera is rampant speculation that the Broncos will try to trade or even waive the second-year pro from Florida whose popularity still trumps his polish.
That makes little football or financial sense.
He’s the only quarterback on the roster who’s under contract after this season. Earlier this month he received a $6.275 million bonus and his salaries through 2014 are very palatable.
So, the Broncos can continue to have patience and see if this project that former coach Josh McDaniels thrust upon them might eventually pan out.
Some of Tebow’s supporters are starting to see the Broncos as the bad guys in all this.
Because the Broncos don’t share his rabid fans’ unbridled enthusiasm and blind faith in the quarterback’s ability to win right away, the feeling among his staunchest supporters is that the Broncos must have a problem with Tebow’s personality, not his play.
Why else would they refuse to anoint Tebow, one of the most accomplished and beloved players in the history of college football, as the starter over Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, two quarterbacks with losing career records who don’t share Tebow’s winning pedigree?
Because Orton is better, by any meaningful measure, right now.
And it looks like Quinn is, too.
The standard response to criticism of Tebow’s game — or praise of Orton’s or Quinn’s — is to declare that Tebow is a hard worker and a great guy and those attributes should trump all this talk about messy mechanics and flawed footwork.
Tebow has had a bad training camp.
He never came close to challenging Orton for the starting job and appears to have slipped behind Quinn on the depth chart although he has two preseason games left to win the backup job.
Even Adam Weber, an undrafted rookie from Minnesota, shows more smoothness in his throws sometimes than the former national champion and Heisman Trophy winner; like Wednesday, when he dropped a 40-yard touchdown toss into the arms of D’Andre Goodwin in double coverage during drills.
There was even a Yahoo Sports report this week suggesting “some people in the organization believe that Tim Tebow is the fourth-best quarterback on the roster.”
“Maybe they heard it from the cook, I’m not sure,” coach John Fox cracked after practice Wednesday. “We hold Tim in high regard. I think he’s got a bright future in this game. He’s playing maybe the hardest position I know in the NFL there is to play, and maybe in all of sport. He’s progressing fine.”
Tebow only had two passes in the second preseason game last week.
“He’ll get more opportunities in games as we go,” Fox said. “... Everybody in this building has high regard for Tim Tebow, and he’s doing just fine.”
At any rate, Tebow’s the only quarterback who’s under contract after this season and he is signed through 2014.
The Broncos are willing to give the experiment some time.