Josh McDaniels’ plan is going to start to take shape Sunday in Oakland without McDaniels.
In his second game as Denver interim coach, Eric Studesville has decided to start rookie quarterback Tim Tebow at quarterback. McDaniels -- who was fired earlier this month -- shocked the NFL by trading three picks to take Tebow at No. 25. The former Florida star has only played in special packages. His last work as the base quarterback was in the preseason, when he improved throughout the schedule, but was still very raw.
Tebow is getting the call because starter Kyle Orton has sore ribs. Tebow practiced with the first team much of the week. If he plays decently against the Raiders, he could get the nod in the team’s final two games of the season, both at home. Denver fans have been clamoring for Tebow in an attempt to salvage something in this 3-10 season.
Here are five things to watch from Tebow on Sunday:
His mechanics: The left-hander’s mechanics have been scrutinized. Many scouts don’t think he’ll ever become an effective NFL starter because of his awkward throwing motion. He has made some improvements in that area, but don’t expect to see a refined Tebow on Sunday. He’s always going look a tad funny when he cranks back to pass. The key is whether or not he has improved his accuracy on intermediate-to-longer passes.
His ability to run: Adam Schefter’s report said Denver has tailored its game plan to fit Tebow’s skills. That means he will be on the loose. Tebow was best in college when he was scrambling and running with the ball. His game is based on chaos. In training camp practices, he seemed to be better when the play broke down. Expect Denver to use the shotgun formation liberally.
His poise: Oakland has a swarming, athletic defense. It will be interesting to see how Tebow negotiates it in his first extensive NFL action. The Black Hole is going to be loud and hostile. Tebow has handled pressure well in the SEC. Let’s see how he handles playing in Oakland.
Can he spark the Broncos? Tebow routinely lifted Florida. The Broncos badly need a lift. Their offense is struggling. This is an enthusiastic, feisty player. Is it possible he can inspire his team to pull off an upset over a team that still has playoff hopes?
Ball security: One of Tebow’s biggest issues in the preseason and in practice has been turnovers. He had a tendency to fumble and throw interceptions. That will not fly in Oakland on Sunday. Tebow must give himself a chance to succeed by playing a clean game.