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Tim Tebow gave the Denver Broncos a spark but fell short of rallying them to victory against the San Diego Chargers.
Tim Tebow gave the Denver Broncos a spark but fell short of rallying them to victory against the San Diego Chargers.

Tebow's time to take a bow for Denver Broncos

John Fox, the new Denver Broncos coach, knew it was only a matter of time before Tim Tebow would be his starting quarterback. He just waited until the bottom finally fell out of his offence.

John Fox, the new Denver Broncos coach, has known from the moment he took the job that Tim Tebow would be his starting quarterback sooner rather than later. He was just waiting for the bottom to fall out, and it did last Sunday.

If the whole thing felt preordained, well, that's because it was, but not by the celestial being you might have in mind. Credit for that belongs to the former Broncos coach, and failed wunderkind, Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels had no history of leading a team and was only 32 when he was hired in 2009. Yet the owner, Pat Bowlen, and his advisers were so confident in the protege of the New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, that they made McDaniels the de facto general manager, as well.

In short order, McDaniels chased away Jay Cutler, a perfectly serviceable quarterback, then traded three draft choices the next year to make Tebow a first-round pick and presumptive heir to the QB position. Then McDaniels went to work wrecking the rest of the roster, leaving behind as his legacy plenty of chaos and a 4-12 season, the worst in Broncos history.

Fox understood all that when he took the job. So did the former Broncos hero, John Elway, when he signed on as team president.

They knew this day was coming even after Tebow failed to win the job in training camp and long before fans started chanting his name near the end of games and threatened to take their campaign to billboards around the Mile High City.

Fox had said everything was "up for discussion" after Tebow came on in relief of the starter, Kyle Orton, last Sunday, and sparked a listless Broncos team to within a last-gasp pass of shocking the San Diego Chargers.

Tebow cobbled together two quick scores against a prevent defence, pumping his fist and breathing fire into his teammates and fans, and effectively ending any real discussion.

Never mind that back-up quarterbacks often seem to play well in the final minutes of lost causes or that Tebow also fumbled three snaps from centre in that brief relief appearance.

The Broncos have a bye this week before travelling to Miami for their next game, on October 23, and as often happens at various moments in Tebow's career, during which he has become beloved by some and reviled by others for his clean-cut lifestyle and religious devotion, the extra week to study the Broncos playbook is hardly the only star aligned in his favour.

Because the Dolphins have trouble filling their stadium in good times, and are winless at the moment, someone in the marketing department decided during the summer to stage a promotional event called "Gator Day" at Sun Life Stadium on that very Sunday.

The idea was to honour the University of Florida's 2009 college national championship team and coax a few of the Gators' alumni into buying Dolphins tickets, too.

That's because they all remember the quarterback who won that title in that very stadium two years ago.

A guy by the name of Tim Tebow.

For all that, Fox delayed the inevitable for as long as he could.

Tebow wasn't good enough to be the No 1 quarterback at the start of the season because his footwork is questionable, he cannot throw accurately and if he sees his primary receiver covered, he tucks the football into the crook of his arm and takes off.

That worked well when he was pin-balling through college-sized defensive players, but he will need luck just to survive the beating he is likely to absorb in the NFL.

He could ask Michael Vick, Vince Young and numerous other mobile quarterbacks what that feels like.

But the Broncos have a 1-4 record and Fox has little to lose in giving in to public demand.

As a first-year coach, he has a grace period built in, and Elway's implicit blessing for the move buys him more goodwill. All he has to do now is overhaul the offence and find a way to accommodate a skill set that hardly anyone was convinced would fly in the NFL, and then let Tebow work his magic.

That sounds like a recipe for 1-5, and worse, but Tebow loves few things more than a challenge.

It finally has arrived.

* Associated Press

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