Englewood (AP) — Tim Tebow is awkward and unpolished and even has trouble with the simplest of quarterback tasks: taking the snap from under center after spending his celebrated college career in the shotgun.
There's no denying his productivity and passion, though, and his effervescence is infectious.
"Forget his delivery and his arm action and his accuracy, he gets the job done," NFL Network commentator Deion Sanders said after watching Tebow post his first NFL win Sunday, when he rallied the Broncos from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to a 24-23 win over Houston.
In the process, Tebow took the Broncos out of the running for the top overall draft pick in 2011, and Stanford's super third-year sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck is expected to be snapped up by the Carolina Panthers with the first pick should he declare for the NFL draft.
So, when Tebow left the field clutching the football from his first pro win, he might also have tightened his grip on the starting job.
Interim coach Eric Studesville said he's sticking with Tebow for the season finale against San Diego, meaning the raw rookie will head into the offseason as the incumbent. Although a new coach still could decide Tebow isn't his guy, the former Florida star received assurances from the front office shortly after coach Josh McDaniels' Dec. 6 firing that he's a part of the team's future.
Despite signing an $8.8 million extension for 2011 in training camp that includes $5.5 million in guarantees, Kyle Orton has no promise that he'll be back with the Broncos after losing his starting job two weeks ago on the heels of two poor performances and some badly bruised ribs.
Tebow's passion and poise was praised by teammates and opponents alike after he guided Denver to three touchdowns and a field goal on the Broncos' four second-half possessions Sunday as the Broncos roared back from a 17-0 halftime hole.
"He is exactly what you thought coming out of college," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "He is a winner. He will find a way to make a play. He will find a way to move the chains. He found a way to win a game today and that is what this league is about."
Even if it doesn't look too pretty doing it.
"I love his will to win. As long as he has that, we've got a chance. Everything else we can work on," receiver Jabar Gaffney said.
"He definitely brings a lot of emotion to every play," deep threat Brandon Lloyd said. "He really gives us added incentive to do great things for him, because we know he's willing to do anything humanly possibly to make the most of out every play."
Tebow threw for 308 yards one week after managing just 138 yards through the air in a loss at Oakland.
"There definitely was progress," Studesville said Monday. "He got much better. He made plays and he scrambled and did some things. He threw the ball well, got the ball down the field, and he continues to keep developing. And that's what it is: the more he plays, the better he'll get."
While he hit Gaffney in stride for 50 yards and a leaping Lloyd for 41, Tebow also put some of his receivers at risk with throws that left them vulnerable to big hits from defensive backs.
"Everything wasn't perfect, it wasn't perfect. But he'll get up there and he'll look at the tape and he'll get better from those things and we'll get better (production) from him and the more he's in there," Studesville said.
Tebow scrambled 6 yards for the winning score with 3 minutes left, recalling his college career where he was as much of a runner as a passer.
"The guy is a born leader and we just rallied behind him," said tailback Correll Buckhalter, who turned a screen pass into a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that pulled Denver to within six points.
Tebow remains a work in progress and he's experiencing growing pains just like any other rookie. His vast network of fans want him to be so good so fast, yet jumping from college to the pros takes time and patience, even for a Heisman Trophy winner with two national championships.
"We all want him to be really, really good right now, because that's for all our benefit," Studesville said. "But he works as hard as any person I've ever been around in this game. And the limits are, I don't know what they are right now.
"I know this: He's going to work as hard as he can every day on everything he needs to fix to give himself and his team a chance to win football games."