One word sums up the 2011-12 season for the Denver Broncos: Drama. After a rough 1-4 start under quarterback Kyle Orton, the Broncos organization took a big chance by benching him for relative newcomer Tim Tebow, effectively giving him the reins to their entire season. Under pressure by the organization, and countless analysts who have damned Tebow's NFL career from the beginning, the former Florida Gators QB has exceeded all expectations, emerging as a legitimate suitor for the league's MVP award.
With Denver's win Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings, the Broncos have climbed to a 6-1 record with Tebow at starting quarterback, with five of those wins coming in the fourth quarter or overtime. For the Broncos, crunch time has been renamed to Tebow Time.
Since winning five straight on the road, the Denver Broncos have made the long climb back from worst to first in the AFC West, tying the Oakland Raiders atop the division at 7-5. Notching yet another win for the Broncos, analysts have finally warmed up to Tebow's cool head under pressure.
This season, Tebow has thrown 852 yards and eight touchdowns, but Tebow is the team's second leading rusher after Willis McGahee, notching 455 yards and three touchdowns on 78 carries. His numbers may not be extraordinary, but his attitude and his big plays at the right times have everyone believing in Tebow.
I know that I had a lot of help, Tebow said, as he usually does, at Sunday's postgame presser. Offensive line did a great job, and receivers stepped up and made me look a lot better than I really am.
Despite many questions about his arm mechanics, Tebow has managed to put points on the board for his team, and more importantly, inspire both his offense and defense to perform at a high level. In the last seven games under Tebow, the defense has limited its opponents to an average of 16.7 points per game, ranking among the best in the league in both rushing and passing. With Tebow as the team's No. 2 running option on offense, the Broncos are first in the NFL in rushing yards with an average of 159.7 yards per game.
Tebow's won many of his games with the help of a strong running game, but on Sunday against the Vikings, the former Gator showed off his arm, racking up a season high 202 yards in the air and two touchdowns. Tebow's repeatedly said that he'll do whatever [his coaching staff] ask of him. Whatever gives the Broncos the best chance to win, Tebow has agreed to do.
It may surprise you to learn Tebow ranks among the NFL's elite quarterbacks in efficiency. Tebow gains an average of 2.6 yards each time he touches the ball, and only four quarterbacks average more yards than he, including (in order) Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Saints QB Drew Brees, Patriots QB Tom Brady, and Texans injured QB Matt Schaub.
Tebow may receive an honorable mention for MVP this season, but there are too many other players making, breaking and chasing extraordinary NFL records. Particularly in the case with quarterbacks, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all led their teams to the top of their respective divisions, and all three men are threatening Dan Marino's all-time NFL record of 5,084 passing yards in a single season.
The only way Tebow could steal the MVP Award away from any of these QBs is if he runs the table this season and leads the Broncos into the playoffs with the AFC West crown. With the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs left on the slate, it won't be an easy task.
Even if Tebow doesn't win the MVP award, the Broncos have already won much more than a trophy. They have Tebow, who has captivated the nation in more ways than one. Tebowing is happening all over the world, but more importantly, eyes are glued to the field whenever Tebow straps his helmet on. His unpredictable play, his rah-rah attitude, his persistence towards the end of the game -- it's must-see TV at its finest. There hasn't been this much excitement surrounding the franchise since John Elway was at quarterback. In fact, Denver's current five-game win streak hasn't been accomplished since Elway ran the Broncos show.
Tebow and the Broncos will fight for sole possession of first place in the AFC West when the face the Chicago Bears at home next Sunday. If Tebow remains consistent, Mile High Stadium will also be Drama Central.