ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Tim Tebow wasn’t sacked Monday.
One day after giving his embattled young quarterback a less than ringing endorsement following a humiliating 45-10 loss at home to the Lions, Broncos coach John Fox said he’s sticking with Tebow.
“For this week, yes,” Fox said.
Tebow said he doesn’t feel as though he’s on a week-to-week basis but that he’s not one to fret about the future anyway.
“It’s just take it one day at a time, consistently trying to get better and not focusing too far in the future,” Tebow told The Associated Press. “Today’s the day I’ve got to improve and that’s kind of the focus.”
By not committing to him beyond Sunday’s game at Oakland, Fox made it clear that Tebow has to quickly improve as a pocket passer to retain his starting status in Denver.
“I think at the end of the day, we’ve got to see if he can improve and get better in the passing game,” Fox said.
Since supplanting Kyle Orton at halftime against San Diego on Oct. 9, Tebow has completed 46 percent of his passes (35 for 76) and been sacked 13 times.
“I think we definitely need to improve. I think we will,” Tebow said. “Just the timing and getting in and out of the right plays and being more consistent. … Every day I’m just coming in here and trying to get better and improving and whatever they ask I’m going to do.”
Tebow, who pulled out a stunning win at Miami two weeks ago in his first start this season despite playing poorly for most of the game, said he feels as though the coaching staff still has his back.
“I think they have confidence in me, but more than anything, I’ve got to have confidence in myself and my teammates around me and at the end of the day that’s what matters,” Tebow said.
He insisted his confidence wasn’t rattled by the Lions’ landslide.
“We did some good things and improved on some things,” Tebow suggested. “It wasn’t all bad, it just didn’t necessarily look that way. But that’s the thing about it, it’s never as bad as it seems, it’s never as good as it seems.”
The Broncos had eight possessions of three plays or fewer Sunday, turned it over once on downs and three times on takeaways, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Tebow was sacked seven times and his only TD toss came after the Lions had built a 42-point lead while razzing him with imitations of his prayerful pose that’s become an online sensation.
“We knew he was a scrambling quarterback,” Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. “We knew he was going to try to get out of the pocket and try to keep plays alive and we did a good job just executing. He’s a young player. He’s got a lot to learn as a player. Take nothing from him, he’s a winner, he finds a way to win. He just needs to clean up some things in his pass game, but that takes time.”
The Broncos tried to adapt to Tebow’s unconventional skill set, spreading out the offense and speeding up the tempo, even sprinkling in some option-read plays, but nothing seemed to work very well.
The Lions crowded the line of scrimmage and used Tulloch as a spy to keep the second-year scrambler from running. They blitzed him on more than 50 percent of his dropbacks, pushing the pocket and containing the edge with a disciplined pass rush.
Lions cornerback Chris Houston, who returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, revealed Detroit’s game plan was to stack the box and make Tebow try to beat them with his arm.
“We just wanted to make him be a quarterback today,” Houston said after the game. “… He’s an athlete, he’s no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or nothing like that. Or Michael Vick or nothing like that. He’s got a long ways to go as far as being a quarterback, but he’s a hard worker.”
Tebow didn’t make quick decisions or quick throws, and his long, looping throwing motion led to a strip by defensive end Cliff Anvil, who scooped up the fumbled football and scored a touchdown.
Tebow’s quarterback rating this season is 75.1, almost identical to the 75.7 rating that cost Orton his starting job during the team’s 1-4 start.
If Tebow loses the gig, too, the Broncos might not go back to Orton but could give Brady Quinn his first shot under center since his arrival two years ago from Cleveland in the Peyton Hillis trade.
“You know, really, in this business all things are possible,” Fox said. “And Brady’s a guy that we acquired before I got here, but he’s shown flashes in our practice and (preseason) games, so right now we’re in the process of finding out who the quarterback is and we’ll leave it at that.”
Fox said he trusts Tebow will learn from his mistakes and get better.
“He’s competitive by nature, and I think he’ll respond just fine,” Fox said.
The task only gets tougher for Tebow. The Broncos play four of their next five games on the road and six of the remaining nine games are against teams that employ the 3-4 defensive scheme that’s given him fits as he tries to recognize where the fourth rusher is coming from.
First things first. Tebow said he doesn’t feel as though he’s on a short leash and is content to let tomorrow take care of itself.
“I feel like each week I’m going to take the game plan and do the best I can with it and keep improving with it and take my weaknesses and try to make them strengths,” he said.
Notes: RB Willis McGahee said he’ll test his surgically-repaired right hand this week in hopes he can return to action after missing Sunday’s game. He got hurt at Miami two weeks ago when his right hand got stuck in a defender’s face mask, drawing an infraction that cost him a $7,500 fine, which he said he’s appealing.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton