Tim Tebow will get is first career start for the Denver Broncos tomorrow in Oakland. Do I know this for sure? No. But everything I have ever believed in football tells me he will, regardless of what the Broncos are saying publicly. There are plenty of reasons for the Broncos to keep wraps on their quarterback decision, the least having anything to do with the Oakland Raiders and game-planning.
My thought process all along has been simple. If Tim Tebow was going to start, he needed all the reps in practice the week before. Finally, this week, that has happened.
Kyle Orton has yet to throw a pass this week at practice. It was a well-known Mike Shanahan 'rule' that if you didn't practice Friday you weren't going to play on Sunday. This is even more important for a quarterback since he has to have a full grasp on the game plan that was implemented during the week. Teams could decide to use plays they haven't worked on since Training Camp - or earlier - so practicing them during the week is important. Orton didn't practice them - Tebow did.
So why keep it under wraps? Easy, keep the media explosion at bay as long as possible. Let's face it, everyone expects Tebow to get the start on Sunday, but by not making it official, Tebow doesn't have to be involved in any of the media obligations. Sure, he might talk to the TV folks as part of the production meetings, but other than that the media probably won't get at him before the game. This allows Tebow to focus solely on the game.
The Raiders will play Tebow and the Broncos offense straight-up until Denver does something to get them out of it. You'll likely see 8 in the box, especially since Knowshon Moreno has run the ball so much better the past few weeks. They can easily adjust if Orton happens to start, but Oakland isn't concerned with Tebow as an every-down QB right now because they have no reason to be.
You have to tip your cap a bit to Orton who has tried to battle through the bumps and bruises. Remember, a knock on Orton has been his inability to stay healthy. He has yet to finish an entire season and you could tell it was important to him to keep playing. The last two weeks, however, have been so bad that something has to be wrong. He needs to sit if only to preserve his health.
So that brings us back to Tebow. Frankly, I'm not expecting much, but right now that isn't the point. It's not about wins and losses for the Broncos right now. It's about trying to find out who the pieces are moving forward. It's about getting guys on tape so the decision makers of the future can make an intelligent decision when they take on their new roles over the next 3-5 weeks. It's only fair to Tebow - and the next Head Coach/GM/Personnel Guru - that they have as much information as possible. Football men know what they have in Kyle Orton. Now they need to start getting a feel for Tim Tebow - and what better place to begin than in Oakland?
I'm excited to see Tebow and excited to see if he can bring the leadership everyone keeps talking about. Personally I hope to see him the next two weeks as well, to see if he can improve week to week. Hopefully he'll be given the chance.