If the former continues will the latter?
Tebow, Denver's splashy first-round pick last April and supposed future of the franchise at quarterback, has two rushing touchdowns to date.
He's been relegated to a gimmick role as a shotgun/option quarterback with 10 carries for 26 yards in four appearances as the Broncos enter the bye week at 2-6.
The one game when the rookie had the best chance to see extended action, he didn't. Starter Kyle Orton went the distance in the 59-14 embarrassment against Oakland on Oct. 24.
"That's not really the time I'd want him to get work," coach Josh McDaniels said at the time.
But if not then, when? When Denver is officially eliminated from playoff contention? If an injury occurs? Next season?
It's a difficult question to answer, with several factors involved.
First off, to lay the blame at Orton's feet for Denver's poor start is ludicrous, and in spite of the fact Tebow playing extensively would be more of a preparatory move for the future, the underlying message would be just that. It also wouldn't go over well in the locker room, where Orton's grit, toughness and everyman persona has deservedly made him a team captain.
The Broncos also rewarded Orton with a contract extension through 2011 with the thought he was the bridge to Tebow. Burning that bridge would create a controversy that isn't needed right now with so many other issues to tackle.
At the same time, Tebow's insertion may placate a restless fan base, tired of what will almost assuredly now be five straight seasons without a playoff berth. So it's a delicate balance.
But what's also not known -- and it's an open question, surely -- is whether Tebow is even ready for expanded action. It may not be coincidental that Tebow has either run the ball or handed off every single snap in which he's already played.
No, that doesn't mean he's completely incapable of throwing the ball. He passed for almost 10,000 yards in becoming a college legend at Florida. Despite some mistakes, Tebow looked decent running the offense in the preseason.
Still, Denver's rushing offense is a train wreck right now, and while Tebow's mobility is a strength, it would put an inordinate amount of pressure on him to operate as a one-dimensional quarterback with what isn't his foremost strength -- i.e. passing the ball, reading NFL defenses at this nascent stage of his development.
Given the current 32nd ranking of the ground game, it's actually remarkable Orton has thrown just five interceptions while completing 61.7 percent of his passes.
All that said, Tebow is going to have to learn on the fly at some point. The mechanical flaws that many skeptics identified pre-draft will need to be gauged again and possibly corrected further moving forward.
With just four wins in the last 18 games, McDaniels doesn't have the complete luxury of patience, either.
The guess here is that the Broncos try to salvage their season with a division-heavy schedule in the weeks following the bye. But if things continue to head south, Tebow will get more snaps but not the full workload some in the Mile High city covet.
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