x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tim Tebow in the good, the bad and the ugly

Would a guy have jumped out of the director's chair and yelled: 'Stick to the script, Tim Tebow. Remember, you are supposed to stink until the end'?

Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback, celebrates after running the ball in for a two-point conversion against the Miami Dolphins.
Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback, celebrates after running the ball in for a two-point conversion against the Miami Dolphins.

Had the television cameras panned out on Sunday at the Broncos-Dolphins game for a wide-angle shot, would we have seen the contest being performed on a giant Hollywood-style film set?

Would players, coaches and referees have been sitting offstage earlier in swivel chairs, reading over their scripts while getting make-up applied?

Would a guy have jumped out of the director's chair when Denver quarterback Tim Tebow threw a rare decent pass in the first 55 minutes and yelled: "Cut! Re-shoot that scene. Stick to the script, Tim. Remember, you are supposed to stink until the end."

Would Tebow's two-point conversion that forced overtime have required a half-dozen takes to nail because, after all, who was not anticipating his trademark quarterback scamper other than the Dolphins?

And how many tries did the Broncos' Matt Prater really need to hit the game-winning 52-yard field goal after he missed twice from shorter distances?

OK, maybe this was unchoreographed drama. Still, you wonder. If the football gods wanted to cement Tebow's status as the most talked-about/least-talented player, they could not have dictated a more effective storyline.

The Tebow worshippers are singing his praises, loud and proud as ever. The Tebow critics are treating him with unprecedented disdain.

The two parties are drowning each other out with taunts of "See, I told you so".

In the Broncos camp this week, however, the lines are less clearly drawn. They must be scratching their heads and wondering: "What do we have here?"

The Broncos seek closure. With their season in the gutter, they demoted Kyle Orton and put Tebow on an extended audition. By year's end, they need enough body of work to either go with him long-term or hit the eject button.

Sunday brought them no closer to resolution. Terrible Tebow was allowed to throw all of eight passes in the first three quarters - against a winless foe with a leaky defence. He completed three for 24 yards, missing on others so badly that the identity of the intended receiver was uncertain.

Denver tried to go all Drew Brees in the fourth, dialling up passes regularly for Tebow. For a while, the result was ugly. He sunk to four-of-14 at one juncture.

Then someone flipped the switch. Terrific Tebow gunned the Broncos 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown, then 56 yards in 10 snaps for another, followed by the two-pointer.

Overtime! Bonus Tebow-watching!

It turned out there was little to see. The Broncos' play calling in overtime was revealing. First, they went three-and-out without going airborne.

Next time out, after a fumble recovery at the Miami 36, they eschewed a pass that would manoeuvre them into their place-kicker's safe range. Denver had their quarterback hand off three more times.

In Tebow, they did not trust.

Yet John Fox, the coach, swept up in the post-game euphoria, could not resist comparing Tebow to the most revered Bronco of all.

"It's a great quality to have," Fox said. "We've got a guy, No 7 [Hall of Famer and team president John Elway] who I work with every day, he had it."

"It" is an unmeasurable ability to instil in others the belief that hard work and dedication will reap success. Tebow made it work unfailingly as an amateur and intermittently as a professional. His 50-cent arm dangles close to a million-dollar heart.

Tebow inspires so much admiration that the NFL family is loath to speak ill of him. Boomer Esiason, the television analyst, whose quarterback legacy provides him some cover, accepts the call.

"It was a stimulating finish, no question about it," Esiason said on Monday on a radio show. "He deserves all the credit for it. But at the end of the day, in my estimation, the way he played yesterday is not the way you're going to win a lot of games in this league."

Esiason took an almost apologetic tone, saying: "As much as I'd love for him to be my son-in-law, I don't want him to be my starting quarterback."

It is for the Broncos to decide if they want to exchange vows with Tebow as their man behind centre. Film-like scripts such as last Sunday's might delight and embolden the pro- and anti-Tebow factions, but the Broncos need a different plot line to make the call.