Tim Tebow: The best third-string quarterback in the NFL!

When I stepped into my kitchen this morning, I found the cover of the latest edition of 5280 -- the one featuring Tim Tebow and the question, "The Second Coming?" -- taped to our cereal cabinet along with a Post-It from my daughter that read: "Should we burn it or pray to it every night? Your choice."

I'm going with "neither" at this point. After all, Tebow's performance last night in the Broncos' 2010 preseason debut against the Cincinnati Bengals was neither as brilliant as his boosters hoped nor as horrific as his detractors predicted.

The "horrific" descriptor should be slapped on Brady Quinn, whose time in the lineup recalled his stint with Cleveland: He resembled a male model certain it was more important to look like an NFL quarterback than play like one. Apparently, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels made the mistake of believing former colleague Charlie Weis when it came to Quinn's talents, or lack thereof.

Remember, Josh: There were a lot of reasons why Weis was fired at Notre Dame. And talent evaluation was one of them.

As for Tebow, he was the second-best player under center for the Broncos last night, with Kyle Orton taking the top spot. Unlike our friends at the Denver Post, however, I'm not ready to greet Orton's signal-calling time with hosannas. He was in his game-manager mode for the most part, and we saw the limitations of that skill set during the second half of last year. But he looked competent and comfortable -- two key qualities in a pro hurler. Too bad he doesn't have more of them.

Tebow, meanwhile, brought some unpredictability and pizazz to the game, along with several teeth-grinding moments. As the Post's Dave Krieger accurately points out, Tebow could have suffered a couple of picks, and a sack and fumble had to be overturned via challenge.

And during that sack, Tebow's wind-up -- a subject of concern since before he was drafted -- looked so long and slow that if he'd taken up pitching instead of quarterbacking, he'd be opponents' absolute favorite to steal against.

Nonetheless, he got some things done, and scored on the last play of the game in dramatic fashion -- or at least it would have been dramatic if the Broncos weren't already too far behind to win. He clearly didn't use up all his star quality in Florida.

Then again, Tebow was competing against the Bengals' third string, which tends to skew analysis in a major way. Remember that at this time last year, fans were so impressed by third stringer Tom Brandstater's preseason turns that some of them had him pegged as a future Denver starter. Less than a year later, he was shipped out of town -- and last night, he made his debut as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Expect Tebow to stick around longer. Indeed, his play last night suggests he may have a future as an NFL starter. But despite all the accolades and endorsements, he still deserves to be a backup QB -- albeit the most interesting one in the league.

Let us pray.

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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