|This much we know: Tebow's got the starting gig heading into training camp. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Back on January 17, three days after the Broncos' 2011 season ended with a playoff loss to the Patriots, executive vice president of football operations John Elway said that Tim Tebow "has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year." It's a curious comment in that Elway acknowledges Tebow's against-all-odds accomplishments in 2011 but with the clear understanding that should he struggle early, the Broncos are free to find a starter elsewhere.
Cornerback Champ Bailey, one of Tebow's biggest supporters during the season, even admitted that the former Heisman Trophy winner "still has a lot to prove."
“He’s proven he can win some tough games," Bailey said shortly after the Broncos lost in the playoffs. "Now it’s just being consistent. One thing about him, he’s going to work at it. And I’m behind him 100 percent.”
Whether Elway is that committed to Tebow beyond training camp is another matter. Either way, Denver has quarterback on the to-do list; Kyle Orton was released during the season and Brady Quinn will be a free agent in March.
"We will be in the market to find more quarterbacks," Elway said according to the Denver Post's Jeff Legwold. "That's our approach with Tim being our starter as we go to training camp, that we'll look at free agency and the draft."
We've written previously on the available free-agent quarterbacks who could piqued Denver's interest, but this is about more than sheer talent. There's also the little issue of public opinion; Tebow is insanely popular among Broncos fans and as Orton found out, working conditions can quickly deteriorate for those who get between Tebow and the starting job.
That reality aside, Elway is insistent that there will be competition at every job -- including quarterback -- leading up to the 2012 season.
"Anybody who comes in at any position is going to think they have a chance to compete," he said. "Any free agent or anybody that comes in here when we start training camp is going to be competing for jobs. Obviously with Tim's reputation, if the guy is afraid to come in and compete for that job, then maybe he's not the right guy."
Just ask Orton.
For now, Tebow's the guy although the depth chart appears to be written in pencil. If recent history has taught us anything, however, it's that we should never ever underestimate the Power of Tebow.
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