It’s a horse of a different color, but all signs seem to indicate that Peyton Manning will be heading to the Denver Broncos, after 14 seasons as an Indianapolis Colt. The first of many concerns attached with this move, is what Denver will now do with Tim Tebow. Is there enough room in the Mile-High city for two of the most popular players in the NFL?
Tebow and Manning, on opposite sides of the active roster, were arguably the two most discussed stories of last season. Manning, even after season-ending neck surgery, was a daily topic of conversation. Tebow’s unexpected and uncanny run to last season’s playoffs was literally the stuff of legend. Tebow led Denver to their first AFC West title and first playoff victory since 2005. Indianapolis went 2-14 without Manning under center, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Almost as soon as the news broke about the acquisition of Manning, the rumor mill began to spin about trade possibilities for Tebow. Could Tebow go to Miami, who also tried to roll out the red carpet for Manning? Would the Cleveland Browns be interested, after losing the bidding war to the Washington Redskins for the rights to possibly draft quarterback Robert Griffin III?
Tebow grew up in, won two BCS National Championships for, and is a local legend around Jacksonville. The Jaguars recently signed veteran quarterback Chad Henne to compete for the starting job. Jacksonville moved up six spots to spend the tenth overall pick in the first round of last year’s draft on quarterback, Blaine Gabbert. Although adding Tebow to the roster would definitely boost sales in that small market, the timing of the trade may be too late, and the Jaguars’ quarterback stable may be too full.
Maybe vice president John Elway and head coach John Fox should just hold their horses for a little bit. There’s a lot of opportunities that arise with Manning’s arrival, and not all of them involve getting rid of Tim Tebow. With two dynamic and diversely talented quarterbacks on the same roster, the possibilities are almost endless.
Tebow had his fair share of struggles last season, and it was obvious that his mechanics in the pocket were lacking. Even though he threw for 316 yards in Denver’s playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the second-year quarterback also threw for less than 100 yards three times during the regular season. Tebow has also added up 23 turnovers in 23 NFL games played.
Early in their own Hall-of-Fame careers, both John Elway and Peyton Manning had similar struggles. Manning went 3-13 in his first season, and threw a record-breaking 28 interceptions. John Elway threw 52 interceptions in his first three seasons as a starter. There may not be two more suitable teachers, for a quarterback who is just as promising as he is rough around the edges.
Even if Tebow stays with the Broncos as a second-string quarterback, he still has value in other spots on the roster. Although it hasn’t been a staple of Peyton Manning’s offensive arsenal, using Tebow in the option package could prove useful and disruptive for opposing defenses. Tebow could line up as a receiver, or take direct snaps from a full back position, to pass or run the ball. In his two year career, Tim Tebow has 887 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
There is always the issue of Manning’s injury to consider. Caught amidst the fanfare and question marks surrounding the recent news of Manning moving to Mile-High, is the fact that there is no way to know how well a surgically-repaired neck is going to heal. Every return from injury is a gamble, and the Broncos would be well-served to prepare for the worst of scenarios. For now, Tebow could watch, learn, and be a back-up plan.
Overall, in college football and in the NFL, Tim Tebow is a proven winner. In 2008, during his career at the University of Florida, Tebow won the Manning Award. Named after Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning, the award is presented annually to the nation’s top college quarterback. Manning won’t be around Indianapolis to witness the maturity of Andrew Luck, but he may be around to assist in the ascension of a different young prodigy.