Tim Tebow ended the 2010 season with some momentum. He got some valuable starts due to Kyle Orton being ineffective, and he was going into training camp with the opportunity to battle it out for the starting quarterback position. The Denver Broncos had a horrendous 4-12 year and were clearly in the rebuilding mode and still searching for a franchise quarterback.
Tim Tebow, who is well documented as being a better game player than practice player, failed to impress during training camp and pre-season. Tebow's mechanics were still very much an issue. His awkward, baseball-like release resulted in a longer time getting rid of the football, and in the NFL an extra wasted second can be crucial.
Merril Hoge had this to say about Tebow: "You've got to look at a couple flaws that Tim Tebow had at Florida and still has in the National Football League that I don't believe ever get better," Hoge said. "First of all, his delivery is such an elongated motion that you have to have a complete, clear pocket for him to be successful down the field. If you don't have that, you're going to struggle."
There was also question as to whether or not the Broncos organization even wanted Tebow around. Tebow was the product of the previous head coach Josh McDaniels and with him no longer around Tebow did not have the major support of someone high up in the organization.
What Tebow did have was the heart of Broncos fans across Denver and football fans across America. Tebow had a large following already from his days with the Florida Gators, but he only would seem to get even more popular as a member of the Denver Broncos. The Broncos fans beg for Tebow to have an opportunity to prove his worth. They were tired of Orton, who piled up pretty decent stats but failed to impresses with his leadership and in the win/loss column. It even got to the point to where fans even purchased billboards in order to get their point across to the Broncos organization.
Kyle Orton's pedestrian start didn't help matters either. In the first five games of the season, he was able to pull off just one win. Although a lot of games where close, the Broncos wondered whether he had what it took to be a franchise QB. And thus Tebow got the call. No one knows whether the Broncos legitimately wanted to give Tebow a fair chance to prove his skills, or if they just wanted to prove to the fans that Tebow wasn't a starting caliber quarterback. Whatever the reason was, Tebow was handing the reigns to the Broncos' offensive.
Tebow first full game starting of the 2011 season was versus the Miami Dolphins in the sixth week of the NFL season. Miami was struggling just as bad if not worse than the Broncos with an 0-5 records and where expected to be front runners in the "Suck for Luck," race. Tebow would have a horrible performance for most of the game. Tebow would just have three completions after three quarters of play for 24 yards.
The fourth quarter, Tebow would put on an incredible show. Down big with not a lot of time to work with, Tebow would complete 10 of his 19 pass attempts for a cool 137 yards. He'd also have two touchdowns, as he lead Denver to its first of many come from behind victories. "As a football player, as an athlete, you can't lose confidence in yourself - or you've lost already," Tebow said.
The Miami game would kind of become a template for the 2011 season with Tebow struggling for most of the games, but stepping up when it mattered the most.
Tebow's next game versus the Detroit Lions did not fare as well. The Broncos got routed 45-10 in a game that many believe proved that Tebow was well out of his league in the NFL. Tim Tebow hardly had any time to throw the ball as he was pressured all day and sack seven times. Tebow would end the game with a QB rating of 57. He was 18/39 passing for 172 yards and had 63 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Tebowmania would then erupt as the Broncos would win the next six games, many of the wins coming late in the fourth or overtime. Although Denver played in one of the weakest division in the NFL, Tebow was still able to resurrect to the lifeless Broncos to the top spot in the division. Tebow's knelling in prayer after wins known as 'Tebowing' went viral. It seemed as if every sports network, blog, or magazine was talking about Tebow.
Then the Broncos met the Patriots. Although they started the game well, costly turnovers made it a sizable loss. That would start a string of three straight losses to end the season that had people wondering whether the Tebow magic had run out. The Broncos where running an option offensive similar to what Tebow had run during his days with Urban Myers and the Florida Gators. Football experts agreed that the option offense could not be successful long term in the NFL.
The Broncos would limp into the playoffs. It would be their first playoff appearance since 2005, and they were facing the best Pittsburgh Steelers and their number one rated defense. The Broncos were heavy underdogs even with home field advantage and with key Pittsburgh players injured and inactive.
The Steelers would play an aggressive defense designed to take away Tebow's running game and forcing him to pass, and that's exactly what he did. Tebow and the Broncos would jump out to an early lead on several huge passing plays from Tebow. The Steelers would manage to claw their way back in and force it to overtime which lasted in impressive 11 seconds. Tebow would hit Thomas on the first play in overtime that would end up going the distance. It would be the quickest overtime in the history of the NFL.
Tebow and the Broncos faced the Patriots next and were embarrassed by Brady who had a record breaking performance with six touchdown passes. The season was over.
At the beginning of the season, Tebow was one of the most polarizing players in the history of sports with just as many believers as he had doubters. By the end of the season, he was just as polarizing. Tebow showed signs of promise, but his low completion rate and production on offensive where huge slights against him.
John Elway would later going on to say that Tebow earned the right to be the starting quarterback during training camp, but he emphasized the fact that they would be actively looking for competition. How will Tebow fair in 2012? That is yet to be seen.