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Fox didn't put Tebow in position to win

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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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DENVER

Yes, Stephen Tulloch sacked Tim Tebow, then dropped to a knee next to the heap of Tebowmania, put his hand to his forehead in the praying motion that was the craze all week: Tebowing. You might know that already, as it took roughly 10 seconds to hit all the websites that Detroit had mocked Tebow.

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What you might not know is that Tulloch got up, went to Tebow and told him it was just in fun, not meant to be mean-spirited. Tebow said that was fine. And at the end of the day, after Tebow had been nonstop terrible for three hours in Denver’s 45-10 loss to Detroit, Tebow thanked Tulloch for a good game. Tulloch told him to keep working hard, and that everything would work out.

So you can invent bad blood if you want. You can pretend. But if you want to know about the real mocking, take a look at what Denver coach John Fox did to Tebow. The play calls, and even the game plan. The whole thing made Fox look like a coach who had had enough of Tebow, and of Tebowmania. Fox isn’t buying into this guy, and never has.

He was all but pressured into playing Tebow at all. The cult following had been frenzied enough, but after Tebow’s heroic comeback a week ago, well, that put everything over the top. Fans were dropping to a knee at the airport, the grocery store, the mall to honor a QB, and an entire belief system. Fox had to give in.

But a boss’ job is to put his workers in position to succeed. Fox seemed more interested in putting an end to the craziness. The Broncos coaches want out from underneath the Tebow burden.

The word “sabotage’’ keeps coming to mind. At the very least, Fox was handing Tebow the rope to hang himself with. When the game was already decided, the bigger the blowout, the stronger the message.

“He started out pretty efficiently, went down and scored a would-be touchdown that was denied (when officials ruled the play out of bounds), had a field goal, and then basically went into hibernation for about nine series,’’ Fox said. “The game was out of hand.’’

Who went into hibernation? Look, Tebow isn’t good enough now to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The Broncos aren’t good enough to be a team in the NFL, either. So these are the early steps, the baby steps a quarterback has to take. The coaches need to actually help their baby QB with those steps.

When Tebow was in college, I never really thought he’d be much as a pro. He just didn’t have the right style, running out of trouble all the time, and using that goofy throwing motion better-suited for a baseball pitcher than a quarterback. But former Broncos coach, Josh McDaniels felt differently and picked Tebow in the first round. As you know, McDaniels was gone by the end of last year, and his big chance on Tebow was put off on the next coach, Fox.

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The Tebow phenomenon is a mom-and-pop moment in a cynical sports world. People aren’t used to all this open religious belief, and are even suspicious of it. We have been conditioned not to believe in goody-two shoes anymore. How many times have we been burned for trusting in the wholesomeness of an athlete?

Some people believe in him with their own religious fervor. Others are just waiting for, even hoping for, him to turn up with a hooker and cocaine.

He is the football embodiment of red states vs. blue states.

His personal style, and his playing style are not the prototype. We have to have a prototype. He is fantasy. His motion is wrong, his accuracy non-existent. People think there is just one way to do things.

Tebow might not make it. But if he’s going to create a new model for quarterback, then you won’t know what you have until you put him on the field and find out. Until Sunday, he has looked bad, but won.

So when Fox says that Tebow started well, but went into hibernation, that was interesting. The Broncos started in a spread offense with Tebow in the shotgun. It’s the perfect way to let Tebow be Tebow. He should be in the shotgun on almost every play.

He took the Broncos down so easily on that drive. And then. . .they stopped using the spread offense.

“We tried to get back to that after halftime,’’ receiver Eric Decker said. “Maybe we did get away from it a little bit.’’

Fox put Tebow in a much more traditional and un-Tebow-like offense the rest of the half. That’s when Tebow seemed to go into hibernation.

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“I’m trying to make an effort to do exactly how I’m taught, depending on what play, depending on what down and distance, and trying to be smart and really step up,’’ Tebow said. “(Detroit has) a very good line, so I’m trying to get up in the pocket as much as possible.’’

You can’t turn him into Joe Montana. It will never work. Maybe nothing will.

Throughout the game, there were just some strange calls that didn’t put Tebow where it would be best for Tebow to be. A big third-and-2, and instead of letting him run up the middle himself, he threw a strange pass downfield, and then another pass on fourth down.

With less than 30 seconds left in the half, instead of running out the clock, Tebow then dropped back into the shotgun from the Denver 20.

With six minutes left in the game, and the Broncos down 45-10, Fox started using his timeouts.

Why not just let Tebow’s misery end?

“Well,’’ Fox said, “last week it was 15.’’

Who knows what that meant. It was his full answer. Last week, Tebow was horrible the whole game, and then worked miracles with two touchdowns in the final couple minutes. It might have been the worst thing that could have happened to Fox.

To be clear, I’m not saying that Tebow would have won the game if Fox had been on his side. He might have been just as awful. It’s just that the point of a coach should be to try to help along his young quarterback not send a message to his followers that their hero isn’t ready yet, and might never be.

“He’s a work in progress,’’ Fox said.

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We got that. Tebow, with that long wind-up, had one ball stripped from behind and run in for a touchdown. On a mere 8-yard pass, he threw so off-target that the ball went behind his receiver, and behind the defender covering him. It was intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown.

Tebow Terrible. Get off your knees. Message sent.

Tagged: Broncos, Lions, Stephen Tulloch, Tim Tebow

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