Tim Tebow must play by week five, says ESPN's Jason Smith

If all Josh McDaniels wanted to do by drafting Tim Tebow in the first round was to get NFL Nation (and Focus on the Family) talking about the Broncos, he succeeded beyond his wildest imagination. Days after the pick, he remains among the hottest topics in pro football.

Of course, a spotlight this blazing hot brings challenges of its own, as ESPN Radio's Jason Smith pointed out during an extended Tebow segment on his AllNight program.

At one point, Smith described McDaniels and owner Pat Bowlen as "a little crazy" for making the move and pointed out that McDaniels has essentially bet his coaching reputation on Tebow's development. Moreover, he argued that the Broncos must play Tebow by the fifth or sixth game of the regular season or risk full-scale mutiny by fans and hectoring treatment by the press.

Smith isn't a Tebow hater, but neither does he think this very religious young man qualifies as the second coming. At one point, he said he thinks he'll evolve into a good NFL quarterback -- note the modesty of that adjective.

But Smith also believes that McDaniels is giving Broncos boosters no reason to believe he knows what he's doing given his decision to trade the squad's franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler, and then bring in not one (Kyle Orton), not two (Brady Quinn) but three (Tebow).

Smith also believes that because of Tebow's oversized personality, not to mention the number of eyeballs on him at all times, McDaniels can't afford to bury him on the bench for the entire season. Indeed, he believes that McD may have to slip him into the lineup for a series or two early on, and by week five or six, he'll have to hand him the keys to the Broncos-mobile.

Is there any chance in hell that Tebow will be ready again, particularly given that he's only recently retooled his throwing motion in an effort to make it more NFL-friendly -- meaning increasing his accuracy and speeding his release enough to prevent linemen from batting down every toss? That's mighty hard to imagine. But that may not matter given the immense pressure for Tebow to get a chance to play in regular season action -- pressure McDaniels has brought squarely on himself.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts