As Stakes Rise, Tebow’s Lessons Continue

Mike McCoy and Tim Tebow

Mike McCoy and Tim Tebow are on the same page with their eyes cast in the same direction in regard to the quarterback's development. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – One of Tim Tebow’s four interceptions thrown in the second half against the Bills last Saturday was retroactively changed to a fumble. But it doesn’t make his worst day as the Broncos’ starting quarterback look much better.

How do you deal with a game like that? Equally important, how do the coaches turn a rotten afternoon into a teachable moment, to try and ensure that it goes into history as an unpleasant aberration, a brief downward blip on a generally ascendant trajectory?

For Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the answer was in quickly working to re-affirm Tebow’s self-confidence.

“The first thing I told him after the game is, ‘Tim, don’t ever question yourself,’” McCoy said. “Playing quarterback, you’ve got to play with confidence, and the decisions he made, he was confident in what he was doing; unfortunately it went the wrong way.”

In other words, if you’re going to mess up, don’t do it tentatively. Do it with confidence. Do it at full speed.

And don’t be afraid to remember the foul-ups.

“Part of being motivated is learning from mistakes, past failures and losses, and having that feeling, that disappointment drive you – in practice; in meetings; to watch more; to do more,” Tebow said on Wednesday after having four days to reflect and learn from the Buffalo beat-down.

“So I don’t know if you always want to let everything go and continue to be the same person. You need to let it eat at you a little bit because I think it makes you better as a player and as a person.”

As a player, the primary lesson rests in what Tebow does before he passes. Multiple Bills defenders indicated that they could tell where the second-year quarterback was going before he threw, leading to two of the interceptions, including the one snagged by safety Jairus Byrd.

With that issue, McCoy said Tebow — or any young quarterback — can only learn by doing.

“It just comes with experience. It really does,” McCoy said. “If they’re thinking that he’s looking, staring a guy down, maybe he’s doing that a little too much and we’ll help him with that.

“He’s got to do a better job keeping his eyes down the field and not telegraphing where he’s going with the ball.”

But Tebow has done a fine job of integrating the mid-week lessons of McCoy and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase into his play, McCoy emphasized. Thus, he sees no reason why he won’t do the same with this one.

“There’s a lot of things he’s learned from week to week,” McCoy said, “whether it’s a progression of a play, using your eyes a certain way, when to get out of a play, when to just move on or check it down to your backs.

“Tim’s done an outstanding job of doing what we’ve asked all year long, and in the fourth quarter, that’s when he’s been at his best, and last week he struggled. But that’s all part of the game.

“Tim’s moving on. He’s a professional and he’s been here before, so he’ll be fine.”

And if he’s fine, chances are the Broncos will be, too.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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