NFL

Elway counting on Tebow to improve

John Elway talks about quarterbacks at the NFL Combine
John Elway talks about quarterbacks at the NFL Combine
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John Czarnecki

John Czarnecki has been the editorial consultant for "FOX NFL Sunday" since its 1994 inception. This season marks Czarnecki's 32nd year covering the NFL. He is one of 44 selectors to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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INDIANAPOLIS

WHERE'S THE FAITH?

Quinn religiously charged Tebow talk may have gone too far. WRITER DEBATE

Surrounded by the national media, there was no way for Mr. Bronco, John Elway, to sound anything but politically correct.

Yes, he says, he’s fine that Tim Tebow is working on his mechanics with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone instead of with himself and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver.

“Those are the rules and we have to live with them,” Elway said Friday. “We can’t have contact with our players right now.”

Elway then declined to say that he disliked the new CBA-mandated rules that currently prevent Denver’s coaches from seeing their players until mid-April and then no on-the-field work until May.

“I’m not concerned about Tim because I know he’s going to work as hard as he can and do anything he can to get better,” Elway said.

There are some who would say that Mazzone might end up being an enabler for Tebow, who definitely needs to improve his footwork. When you watch him throw, there are too many times when his upper body and throwing motion isn’t aligned properly with his feet and trunk. This is why some of his throws last season sailed high or wide; basically making him look and be inaccurate.

The bottom line is that Denver is still going to be in a market for a quarterback — it could still be Brady Quinn — to back up Tebow once training camp begins. Elway said Friday he still hasn’t decided whether that quarterback will be a pocket passer or “a quarterback like Tim.”

Elway didn’t hide the fact, though, that Tebow needs to be able to throw more accurately and have more production from the pocket for the Denver offense to be more efficient and also grow.

“Mike McCoy did a tremendous job of playing to Tim’s strengths last season,” Elway said. On these matters, Elway admitted that he hasn’t had any contact with Mazzone.

Interestingly, Elway didn’t participate in the Scouting Combine coming out of Stanford.

“There were four of them when I came out, but I didn’t go to any of them,” he said. “I had a bad knee and I didn’t want anybody to see.”

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Get wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine, including Scout.com experts on site.

But we all know that Elway was simply the No. 1 pick in one of the NFL’s greatest draft classes (1983) of all time, one that included Eric Dickerson and Dan Marino and four other quarterbacks taken in the first round.

Asked about this year’s top quarterbacks, Elway didn’t curb his enthusiasm.

“I think both of them have a chance to have great careers in our league,” he said of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. “They are two tremendous talents who are mature and intelligent guys. They are going to have a lot of success in the NFL.”

Elway said he believes that based on how the NFL game is played today, it's wide open to throwing the football. For example, he said both Luck and RG3 have the mental capacity to enter the huddle and call multiple plays and be prepared to run the correct one.

“I would bet that Luck could call three plays in the huddle at Stanford last season,” he said, referring to the ability of Luck’s teammates all being able to know and remember all those plays, too.

Elway believes that Griffin will be able to adjust quickly to the NFL game, too. “He’s smart enough and athletic enough to make it,” he said.

Being an ex-player, Elway was sympathetic, too, that neither Luck nor RG3 will throw at the combine. “Why would either one of them want to look bad?” he said. “I understand their point of view.”

There is no question Elway enjoys his new position as the executive vice-president of the Broncos. He is looking forward to rebuilding the team and admitted that last season was a special one, even though the final record was 9-9. They won the AFC West with an 8-8 record and then managed to upset the Steelers in the playoffs.

“It was great to get John Fox in our building and change the culture in the building for the better,” Elway said. “After going like 6-22, he was able to change the mindset and get the players to believe that they were capable of winning.”

Every night here, teams spend at least 15 minutes with prospective draft choices.

“I like to sit in the back and listen and let our other people ask the questions,” he said. “I think I can still get a feel for them that way. When you think about it, for a lot of these guys the biggest influence here is what time do they run the 40 in. Those are the type of numbers that are solidified here."

Elway had two other interesting things to say. He believes Dennis Allen is a great, young coach. “He’s going to have a lot of success in this league; I’m just sad that he’s in Oakland.”

And what about Peyton Manning? What will it be like to see him in a different uniform next season?

“Well, after seeing Joe Montana and then Brett Favre change helmets, I guess that’s part of the game,” he said. “But I think he’ll always be remembered as a Colt.”

Tagged: Broncos, Tim Tebow

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