Is Josh McDaniels better off not playing Tim Tebow?

Oct 24, 2010; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Invesco Field. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 59-14. Photo via Newscom

For a moment, let’s take a walk in Josh McDaniels’ size 10.5 shoes. (Actually, I have no idea what size shoes he wears, nor should I. That would be creepy.)

If he benches Kyle Orton and starts Tim Tebow the rest of the year, he would appease fans that mercifully had to watch Orton complete only nine of his 28 pass attempts against the Chiefs on Sunday. They want to see Tebow play because he offers a glimpse of what the future may look like. (And while the future may look grim, the present isn’t anything to write home about so what’s the difference?)

But McDaniels’ job status might as well be attached to Tebow’s right arm. If he plays the rookie and Tebow is Jimmy Clausen-like bad, management may ultimately decide that he shouldn’t be calling the shots anymore. After all, since arriving in Denver he jettisoned Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, traded Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn (yee-ikes) and dealt multiple draft picks in order to select the project that is Tim Tebow.

Why give the Broncos’ front office any more reason to fire him?

The downside, of course, is that Orton continues to struggle and McDaniels is fired anyway without having the opportunity to coach Tebow on the field. If you’re McDaniels, why not take a shot with Tebow and hope you catch lighting in a bottle? After all, you can’t get much worse than Orton’s performance on Sunday so why not?

But the other problem is that Orton is due $8.8 million in 2011 and he’s earned the right to finish the season (his effort on Sunday notwithstanding). Plus, there’s a real good possibility that Tebow isn’t ready to see the field so it would be selfish of McDaniels to start him and risk stunting his career. Akili Smith and Joey Harrington are just two examples of quarterbacks who weren’t ready to take the field when they did and we all know how their careers turned out.

If I were to make a guess, I would say McDaniels will keep his job for at least another year. It’s hard for a team to invest in a coach only to let him go after only two seasons. I don’t agree with most of McDaniels’ decisions to this point, but two years is hardly enough time to put your stamp on a team. If the Broncos show zero signs of improving next season, then McDaniels should go. But for now, they might as well see what he’s got.

Should McDaniels see what Tebow’s got in the meantime?

Update: Well, clearly I’m a moron because Josh McDaniels has been fired. Nice work, Stalter.

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