Tim Tebow and John Fox – Sharing the Blame…and the Credit

I, like many others, have been on the Tim Tebow bandwagon since he left Florida.

As a Tim Tebow supporter, it appears the bragging rights are mine at the moment.

I’m sure that many will let you hear about it all tomorrow.  It would be really easy for me to just spit out cliches in order to vindicate a prediction that I made purely out of hope.

  • He’s 5-1.
  • He’s 4-0 on the road.
  • He’s only thrown one interception.
  • His team clearly responds to him.

Tebow’s haters are screaming the opposite.

  • Von Miller is the Broncos’ MVP!
  • Kyle Orton is still leading the team in passing yards!
  • The defense has played so much better recently!
  • Who cares that Tebow has led them on many comebackse’s the reason they were down in the first place!

And then there is the third factor – Coach John Fox.


  • “Coach Fox clearly doesn’t want Tim Tebow to succeed.”
  • “The Broncos keep putting Tebow in a position to fail (trading his best receiver, refuse to let him throw the ball, refuse to go for it on fourth and inches in OT…twice).”
  • “Coach Fox has done a great job of adapting the offense to fit Tebow’s strengths.”
  • “Coach Fox should be a legitimate Coach of the Year Candidate (at least for 2nd place…since no one is beating Jim Harbaugh for that award this year).

The crazy thing about all of the conflicting views and thoughts from above is that, ironically, there is a little truth in each statement.

Let’s put our opinions aside, and really look at the Broncos objectively in order to answer three very important questions.

Why are the Broncos succeeding, right now, with Tebow at the helm?

I’m the world’s biggest Peyton Manning fan.  I have tried, over and over again, to express the reasons WHY Peyton Manning is better than Tom Brady.  In football, you can’t just look at an individual player…you have to look at the entire team.

Nobody could ever argue that Peyton Manning has played on a better team with a better coach than Tom Brady for the majority of his career.  That is why, among other reasons, I feel Manning is better than Brady.

Too many people are too eager to crown Tebow as the sole reason for the Broncos’ success.  Football, more than any other sport, is dependent upon a full team effort to be successful.  How could one guy really be THAT important when nobody even plays half of the game?

But what about Peyton Manning?

I guess, in football, it really CAN be all about one guy sometimes – provided that guy is bringing something to the table that is irreplaceable.

The Broncos were 1-4 with Kyle Orton and are 5-1 with Tim Tebow.

With Orton in charge, they lost to the Packers (hardly a surprise), got beat by the Titans (in a close game) and beat the Bengals (a very good win in retrospect).  They also lost to both Oakland and San Diego – two teams the Broncos have beaten with Tebow behind center.

With Tebow in charge, the Broncos lost to Detroit (another good team) and have beaten San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City (divisional rivals), the NY Jets (definitely an above average team with a good defense), and the Miami Dolphins (a much better win now than we thought at the time).

You can’t say that the Broncos have played worse competition with Tim Tebow.  You also can’t say his team has gotten any better – considering they traded away their best WR.

For one reason or another, the Broncos are just better with Tim Tebow as their QB.

Sometimes, and let’s admit that this is very rare, one player really CAN be that important.

For the Colts, Peyton Manning affects every aspect of the team.  Even the defense is built around him.  If the Colts could build a lead and force you to throw the ball, Freeney, Mathis, and the rest would come after you.  Without a lead, the defense is extremely mediocre.  Does that mean that the Colts defense is WORSE this year than they were last year?  No.  They just lost an important part of what makes them successful.

Maybe the Broncos are built the same way.  As long as the game is close, the Broncos’ defense can be aggressive and physical.  Von Miller is an absolute terror rushing off the edge;  DJ Williams is a fantastic playmaker at the linebacker position;  and Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey are both crafty veterans that can make plays and outsmart their opponent over and over again.

Kyle Orton threw seven picks in five games.  Tebow has only thrown one.  The Broncos don’t really play well from behind.  They need the games to stay reasonably close – and then play with the confidence that their offense won’t give the game away.  Bad things happen when they can’t play aggressively on defense (just check out their games against the NFC North).  Bad things happen when they can’t trust their QB to protect the ball.  But when they pass both of those tests, they are, quite simply, a very good football team.

So why are the Broncos succeeding?  Because Tim Tebow enables the entire team to play the way they NEED to play.  His play may not be solely responsible for their turnaround, but he, even indirectly at times, is the biggest reason for the Broncos’ success over the last two months.  Just like Peyton Manning affected the entire game, even when he was off the field, so does Tim Tebow.

Is John Fox really putting Tebow in the BEST position to succeed? Is he putting the Broncos in the BEST position to succeed?

I have been very hard on John Fox this season.  Again, as a Tebow supporter, I don’t believe that Fox has been fair to Tebow at all over the course of the entire season.

He repeatedly criticized Tebow to the media during the pre-season.

He refuses to mention Tebow’s name after huge come from behind victories on national television.

He handles Tebow with kid gloves during games, rarely giving Tebow a chance to make big plays.
But let’s put my Tebow love aside, are any of those points necessarily bad for the Broncos in general? As a coach, you have to worry about your team as a whole, not just one player.

At this point, it’s clear that Fox misevaluated what he had in Tebow at the beginning of the season. It’s very likely that it’s Fox’s fault for the Broncos’ poor start. However, Fox also admitted his mistake and the Broncos have been successful because of it.

I will choose to take the high road and not discuss the idea that it’s exceedingly possible that Fox never believed in Tebow and only put in him into the starting lineup in order to prove to everyone that Tebow really COULDN’T play.

I will choose to not mention the fact that Fox traded away Tebow’s best playmaker the week before his first ever game and basically put Tebow into a lose-lose situation.

And I will also choose to overlook the fact that Fox STILL hasn’t given Tebow his blessing and announced him as the regular starter. Again, just ignore all of those hypotheticals, no matter how valid they may or may not be.

What is Fox doing with Tebow right now? He has completely rejected everything he’s ever known as an NFL coach and adapted his team to fit Tebow’s strengths.

They are running the option; they are running zone reads; they are running crazy play action passes where their wide receiver runs circle routes out of the backfield; they are, quite simply, running over everybody.

This is NOT how you win in today’s NFL – a passing league by all accounts. And yet, here are the Broncos, sitting at 6-5, winning like Charlie Sheen.

Could Fox do more to help Tebow? I think so. It’s not an accident that Tebow’s two best drives of the game came at the end of the first and second halves when he was allowed to throw the ball and the defense had no idea how to defend him.

Tebow had 67 rushing yards, most of which came when San Diego was expecting some sort of option attack. Imagine how many he could have if they had to prepare for him to throw it more often.

Even so, Fox has done something that almost no other coach in the NFL is willing to do. He has changed his identity – on the fly.

Good grief, he didn’t even have an entire offseason to work with this team.

I have always believed that if a coach could only win in a certain system with certain players, he wasn’t a good coach (yes, I’m talking to you Rich Rodriguez). Fox has proven that he can adapt what he does to what his team does.

Is it his fault that the Broncos dug themselves into such a large early hole? Yes. But we can’t give Tebow ALL the credit either. Fox has done a great job of putting the Broncos – a team that needs to stay aggressive on defense and be able to trust their QB not to make poor decisions – in a position to win the last six weeks.

Is Tim Tebow the answer for the Broncos, not just for today, but for the future?

As frustrating as this is, we still don’t know.

In order for Tebow to be successful, the Broncos need to build the entire team around him. They need a few big targets on offense – maybe a tight end or two like Tebow had at Florida with Aaron Hernandez. They need a few more speed guys to make plays around him as well. They also need to keep drafting aggressive playmakers on defense.

They need to adapt to Tebow’s game, and cater to it as much as possible.

Is this the best way for the Broncos to be successful? I’m not sure.

As a Colts fan, I can tell you this: There is no more fun team to root for in football than a team that is completely built around one player – and is successful. Every time Peyton Manning singlehandedly won a game, it was priceless.

However, look where we are now. You are constantly one injury away from being 0-11.

Do you think Tebow can handle it?

Is it worth it?

Only time will tell.


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  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011
  • Time: 8:17 p.m. ET
  • Television: FOX Sports
  • Site: Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Facility: Lucas Oil Stadium
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  • Capacity: 67,604



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About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


  1. Let's just say John Fox is a better coach than Josh McDaniels, but that bar was set pretty low….

  2. This article is stupid, no matter if the D is built to have a lead, THOSE players are accountable when they give up points, if ur going to give Manning credit for wins when the D suceeds then you better give him the blame when they fail

    • No need for the name calling. You made your vague point. Just start with that. This article has mor depth than any you'll read in the MSM tonight or tomorrow.

  3. I thought this was a good insightful read.

  4. It must be hard to be objective when you start your argument with "I’m the world’s biggest Peyton Manning fan." Is your argument centered around offensive weapons? How many years did Peyton play with Harrison? How many years has he played with Wayne? How many years did he play with both? You can go on and on about Brady to Moss, but go ahead and look up how many full seasons he played with him. What about the defense? I submit your 2011 Pats 32nd ranked defense for your observation. Even when the Colts were weak on D they had Mathis and Freeney. Come on Twitch, you can do better than this.

    • thedrtwitch says:

      Are you arguing that Jim Caldwell or Tony Dungy is a better coach than Bill Belichick? Are you arguing that Peyton Manning's defense has always been as good as Tom Brady's defense? Are you arguing that Mike Vanderjagt was as good of a kicker as Adam Vinatieri?
      Here are some facts: Tom Brady has won less playoff games than Peyton Manning since 2006 – the year the New England defense stopped being top notch.
      As I said in my article, football is the one sport that (99% of the time) you can't just use "wins" to compare players.
      Anyway, this article was mainly about Tebow, but I would love to debate Brady vs. Manning with you any time.

  5. Tebow is the ONLY reason I watch the NFL. I am bored of this overhyped sport, but he has brought my interest back — at least when the Broncos are on. G-d bless him. A true winner. Need more like him. Usually we have the opposite.

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