Denver Broncos: John Fox Shouldn’t Mistake Tim Tebow as the Next Jake Delhomme

July 22, 2011 by

Somewhere in between a labor strike and Kyle Orton, sits an answer for head coach John Fox after the NFL announced training camps could take place as late as next Wednesday.DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos rolls out and looks to deliver a pass against the Houston Texas at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23.

But even so, Tim Tebow is the hot topic in Denver right now, only further making the next six weeks even tougher from a coaching standpoint.

For Broncomaniac’s, nothing has seemed more important in the past few years than this seasons training camp standoff. It is vital that Fox – a coach who was originally brought in by owner Pat Bowlen to influence change – gets every call right this offseason, and the quarterback hoodoo headlines the long list of problems.

Obviously, the Broncos knew what they were getting when Fox was originally appointed new front man earlier in January, a move that went along with the complete rehaul of the coaching staff. His 34 year old resume speaks for itself. But so does Fox’s time in Carolina – an eight year venture which resulted in a Super Bowl appearance, plus a handful of losing seasons.

What perhaps interested Pat Bowlen the most though – that is, once Panthers owner Jerry Richardson discontinued Fox’s contract late last year — was his quarterback know-how. Or more importantly, his relationship with former Panthers quarterback, Jake Delhomme.

In six seasons as the starter before being shipped to the Cleveland Browns, Delhomme accomplished four consecutive plus 3,000 yard seasons under Fox, and lead the Panthers to a 12-4 record in 2008 before being pushed out of the playoffs by the Arizona Cardinals.

So now, as the Broncos face a dead heat at quarterback heading into training camp, sources close to the team report that Fox will give both players a fair chance to prove themselves. But as Fox’s past has taught us, Tebow is likely to come out on top.

The reason for that being?

Fox loves winners, and Tebow is one of them. The other reason is just as simple. The Broncos are in the midst of a strict rebuilding phase, and if Denver insists on keeping butts in the seats at Mile High, Tebow is the better option to keep fans optimistic.

For you see, Fox isn’t a great appreciator of quarterback mechanics. He’s a defensive coach at heart, and doesn’t tend to get too wrapped over numbers, throwing motion or the ability to roll out of the pocket and throw a 40 yard dart. He does however, have an appreciation for work ethic and chemistry with teammates, the whole reason Delhomme was handed the ball and told to run back in 2003.

All of this probably means that a comparison between Tebow and Delhomme is fair – and if Fox gets his way, Delhomme may be making a move to Denver, only to take over the role as quarterback mentor for three potential starters.

That doesn’t mean Fox should get comfortable with Tebow like he did with Delhomme, though.

In the four games that Tebow did play in last season, the good was certainly shown. After all of the worry following the Senior Bowl, Tebow displayed strength out of the pocket when rolling to his left, but the same accuracy issues are still a problem. On the plus side, the Broncos do have a quarterback with legs – six rushing touchdowns last year proved that – and a 24-23 win over the Houston Texans showed that he has the arm to go with it.

But if Tebow really is the next Delhomme of his early Panther years, a lot will have to happen in a short space of time. Tebow will have to severely outplay Orton in training camp, or fall lucky, and see Orton traded elsewhere entirely. Otherwise, Tebow must place accuracy issues aside, and find a way to make Fox believe that he is worth the risk.

The biggest thing Tebow must overcome though is perhaps the simplest: the playbook. It’s the one thing Delhomme managed to master from season to season in Carolina. And fortunately for Tebow, he isn’t completely in the dark quite like this year’s rookie class is thanks to the lockout. Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme, left, talks with Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox before an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, in Cleveland.

If Fox has made one thing clear this offseason, it’s that he will give the nod to the quarterback who shows the most promise in practice. Don’t take that to mean much however, because this year’s Broncos team needs a quarterback who is capable of handling such a wobbly offense – someone like Orton who was woeful in the red zone last year simply won’t cut it.

Don’t be mistaken though, Tebow has done his homework this offseason. He’s had his head buried in the playbook whilst the lockout has drawn on, and unlike Delhomme, if Tebow does win the starting job; it’s unlikely that he will be looking over his shoulder throughout the season. Therefore, don’t be surprised if when Tebow takes over, Orton is traded as a result — there is no sense in keeping a quarterback of Orton’s skill away from teams like Arizona and Cincinnati when draft picks could be on offer.

What the Broncos most need right now is a winner, and Tebow can give them that. So if there’s one giant reason for Fox to distance himself from reshaping Tebow into the next Delhomme, it should be the whole reason he was brought to Denver: to inflict change and demeanor.

The comparison between the two quarterbacks is far from physical. It’s mental. As Tebow and Delhomme have a hardened winner’s attitude – something Fox loves — but their half thrown passes and jump balls almost always leave coaches with a grey head of hair come the end.

With the NFL now close to a season, we could find out in less than two weeks’ time who is leading the circus in Denver.

Until then, it’s hard for Fox to commit to any quarterback. Let alone one who is being compared with a 36 year old veteran.

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