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Reading Between The Lines: What John Fox's Comments About Tim Tebow Might Mean

I won't pretend to know what John Fox means when he talks about Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton or anyone else.   Much of it is coach-speak, of course.  During Fox's weekly Monday press-conference, however, I found a couple of answers Fox gave to the never-ending questions about Tim Tebow intriguing to say the least. 

Read them for yourself...

After answering two different questions about the quarterback position with "Kyle Orton is our starting quarterback", Fox was asked directly about why Tebow played just one play against the Packers.  That play, of course, was a quarterback sneak in the 1st quarter that lost a yard - not very creative.

Here was Fox's response:

"No. 1, Tim Tebow is not our starting quarterback. He was in [one snap during] our first 15 plays, and there is an element of Tim playing the quarterback position and a type of offense that he would have in that position that could be beneficial to the Broncos-our offense. He could be in the run game. If they stack the box like we do in our base offense, there could be something things as a throwing element. The hard part of the National Football League is that it's hard to master one offense, and when you spend too much (time) trying to master another one, there is not enough time that goes around, particularly with a new staff, a new offense, a new defense, really a new special teams coach as far as coordinators. We did have and we do have other plays designed for Tim, but we had some other things that were actually working pretty well."

Now, I read that quote at least 100 times trying to see if the feeling I got the first time would change.  It didn't.  What I hear when I read that out-loud, and you can watch the presser over at 1, Part 2) was: Tim Tebow can do some things as a quarterback in the NFL, if you want to run that kind of offense. 

Now I will emphasize the part that led me to that.

"The hard part of the National Football League is that it's hard to master one offense, and when you spend too much (time) trying to master another one, there is not enough time that goes around, particularly with a new staff, a new offense, a new defense, really a new special teams coach as far as coordinators."

What Fox is saying, to me at least, is there would have to be two different offenses - one for everyone else, and one for Tim Tebow.  That leads me back to a couple of points we have been talking about, well, all summer.

With the Lockout, there was no way for the Broncos or Tebow to work on the offense.  Remember, don't confuse Mike McCoy's return as offensive coordinator with the concept that the Broncos are running the same offense.  They aren't.  McCoy was running Josh McDaniels' playbook last year, and this year it's a McCoy/Panthers/Fox playbook.  It's a new offense that Tebow did not have the opportunity to work on because of the work stoppage.

So Fox is admitting, at least to me, that there simply has not been enough time for Tim to learn that offense, or for the Broncos to install a separate offense that takes advantage of what Tebow does well. 

Later, Fox was again asked about Tebow and specifically about having a separate offense for Tebow.  His answer, which at first glance looks to backtrack from the first answer a bit, was interesting as well.

"Let me just clarify: Tim Tebow knows our base offense as well as [QB] Brady Quinn does and really [QB] Adam Weber for that matter and Kyle Orton. Tim has some unique skills unlike, maybe, the other three that could be used in a quarterback-run oriented offense. I don't know that the other three have those abilities and primarily to run the ball. One thing nice about that is that it creates problems for the defense in the sense that you have an extra man when the quarterback can run. Those are the types of plays that we have special just for Tim."

What Fox clarifies, at least to me, is not that Tebow, Brady Quinn or Adam Weber know the base offense, but that they do not - or at least are all at the same spot.  Face it, the players had just over a month to learn the playbook, and once Training Camp ended on August 20th, Kyle Orton was getting 90% of the reps.  That's what the starter gets.

Putting the two answer together for me, especially considering that Fox says in four-different answers that "Kyle Orton is our starting quarterback" is that Fox simply does not think Tebow can run the offense right now - be it because Tebow has not had the time to learn/practice it or that he feels Tebow simply can't do it.

That part is up for perception, and depending on which side of the fence you fall on Tebow you are going to read it the way you want.  I asked someone I trust, someone who's not a fan of the Broncos, to give their thoughts on Fox's comments, just to see if what I was hearing was on or off target. Here is what they think:

"The sense I get from reading that is that while Tebow can run an offense in the NFL, it is not the offense Fox wants to run."

Exactly the way i felt Fox was saying - Tebow can do some things at quarterback, if that's what you want your quarterback to do.

Am I right?  Who knows.  I'm just a Broncos fan like all of you.  Will Tebow play this season?  I think so - at some point.  I always have.  But when I wrote my 'Forest Through The Trees' post a few weeks ago I felt that the Broncos quarterback of the future was somewhere playing on Saturday's, not Sundays.  Fox's comments yesterday have only enforced my feelings, ten-fold.

That said, both sides of the never-ending Tebow debate can latch on to what was said yesterday:

  • On one hand, Fox could be saying that he has no interest in running the kind of offense that would utilize what Tebow can do, which is another way of saying, "Thanks, but no thanks."
  • On the other hand, Fox could be doing Tebow a HUGE favor.  He could be saying that Tebow shouldn't play in 2011 because he simply didn't have the time to learn the offense - which was no fault of his own.  Instead of installing a bunch of plays - a separate offense - for just Tebow, Fox may think it better for Tebow to sit, watch, and learn.  Then, during the offseason when Tebow is the only QB under contract, he would be given the opportunity to win the job outright in 2012.

Either way, this isn't going away anytime soon.