All things involving and surrounding Tim Tebow will be the talk of Broncos football this offseason. However, the quarterback quandary is the least of the Broncos worries heading into 2012.
Is the former Heisman winner out of Florida the long-term answer for the Broncos under center? Who knows? (Rhetorical).
Of more pressing concern is how the organization keeps a season that produced a division title and playoff victory from becoming a one-hit wonder. Do the Broncos need a near-elite quarterback to win the Super Bowl? Who doesn’t? (Rhetorical). But Denver is not one piece away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
The Broncos would be best-served to fill a number of other holes this offseason and save the "Tebow Verdict" for a later date.
For one thing, despite all the questions surrounding Tebow’s status as a long-term answer, he has, as John Elway stated on Monday “earned the right” to sit as the Broncos starter when training camp opens—leading a 1-4 team coming off its worst season in a generation to a its first division title and playoff win in six years affords that.
For another, the Broncos mid-season surge was due, in large part, to the solid play of the defense which was predicated on the team’s ability to generate a pass rush. To win in 2012, the Broncos will, again, need to rush the passer effectively and about the only way to insure this to be the case is to acquire personnel on the defensive interior line who can a) put pressure on the opposing quarterback up the middle or b) occupy blockers that would otherwise be used to double-team the likes of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.
In addition, the Broncos have to address some defensive backfield concerns. When the opposing quarterback felt pressure in 2011, the secondary looked fine. When an injured Von Miller and a double-teamed Elvis Dumervil virtually disappeared near season’s end, the secondary struggled.
Both 2011 starting corners, Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman, will be 34 next season. Champ has three years left on the mega-deal he signed last offseason and is good to go. Andre, who has two years remaining on his contract, just needs to go. While undrafted rookie Chris Harris had a sensational season, it’s hard to say he’s the answer opposite Bailey.
The safety position also presents some issues. Quinton Carter was another rookie standout, but Rahim Moore took what began as a starting gig in the preseason and turned it into a sideline role, even when Denver was in its dime package (six defensive backs). Brian Dawkins, who has two more, relatively cheap, years left on his contract, may be staring down the reality of more of a coach-(sometimes)-in-uniform role given his neck issues.
Never mind that the NFL’s top rated rushing attack has to determine a strategy for next season, given that their leading rusher in 2011, Willis McGahee, had an unexpected (and likely unrepeatable) career year and will be 31.
Yes, Tim Tebow, a long list of prospective back-ups, and a longer list of soon-to-be-NFL quarterbacks will dominate the headlines. However, for the Broncos to prove that 2011 was more than just magic, their focus is best suited elsewhere.