Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow continues to be the most contentious player in the NFL.
ESPN's talking heads were in full force to discuss Tebow's performance on Sunday, as some made it seem as though he doesn't deserve to take another snap in his career, while others seem to believe Denver (2-5) have to ride him out no matter how he plays.
The former Heisman Trophy winner gave a poor effort against the Detroit Lions, and his subpar statistics don't tell the whole story of how Tebow struggled in Sunday's humiliating home loss, 45-10.
Tebow completed 18 passes on 39 attempts, for 172 yards, and threw one touchdown pass and one interception. The touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, with Detroit leading, 45-3. Receiver Eric Decker did a great deal of the work, as he took the short pass and made some clever moves to escape defenders to find his way into the end zone.
In the third quarter, Tebow was stripped and it led to Lions' defensive end Cliff Avril recovering the fumble and taking it the other way for a touchdown. In the fourth, Tebow threw an interception that was clearly read by cornerback Chris Houston, who took it the length of the field for a 100-yard touchdown return. Tebow was also sacked seven times.
Tebow is capable of making brilliant plays, which is why he has a base of supporters in Denver. Many of those same fans are aware that the chances of the Broncos making the playoffs to start the season were slim, so they're resting their hopes on next season, and want to see what the team can get out of the 2010 first-round pick.
However, the same fans who may have chanted for Tebow to be put in the game when Kyle Orton had struggles of his own, may have exaggerated Tebow's potential.
Aside from a 21-yard run against the hapless Miami Dolphins, Tebow has failed to display the creative runs that many have come to expect. Denver's comeback performance behind Tebow against Miami probably wouldn't have happened if Tebow had not failed to move the ball for so much of the game, a point he conceded himself.
Denver trailed 15-0 with 5:23 and Tebow had only completed four passes on 14 attempts for 40 yards, and hadn't converted a third down the entire game.
It was my fault we were in that position, Tebow said. Silly things kept happening. On the sidelines, we were still believing. We wanted it, and they believed in me for more than 60 minutes.
Tebow was able to lead the Broncos to an overtime victory against the Dolphins, but against a more formidable challenger, the Lions, it was a different story. He often looked like the inexperienced quarterback he is, and the Lions seemed to be very prepared for him.
Head coach John Fox is sticking with Tebow, though he didn't exactly give the former Florida star a ringing endorsement when asked if he would remain the starter.
For this week, yes, Fox said.
Things won't get easier for Tebow. He has two road games coming up against the Raiders and Chiefs. If Tebow fails to spark the offense, Orton will probably be back under center in Week 10.
Unlike Orton, Tebow hasn't had the services of Brandon Lloyd, the Pro Bowl wide receiver who was traded at the deadline. The Broncos are not exactly loaded with depth at wide receiver, either.
For now, Tebow needs to be cut some slack. He's probably not as far into his career as he should be, and needs to develop a quicker release in the offseason. He also needs to do a better job of reading opposing defenses.
But Tebow is still a good scrambler, and still hungry to learn and succeed. Those are qualities that the rebuilding Broncos shouldn't be quick to give up on.