ENGLEWOOD, Colorado (AP) — The debate over Tim Tebow's worthiness as an NFL quarterback will undeniably continue in the offseason.
What's not in doubt is his status as the Denver Broncos' starter.
The team sought to curb the circus that's sure to surround Tebow over the next several months by declaring him the incumbent at a season-ending news conference on Monday.
"Well, I think Tim's earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp," Broncos boss John Elway declared at the beginning of a 40-minute news conference in which 24 of the 47 questions were about Tebow.
"I think he made some good strides this year," Elway said. "He obviously played very well against Pittsburgh and played very well in a lot of football games."
And exceedingly poorly in plenty of others.
That's why Elway, the Hall of Famer who rejoined the team a year ago as chief of football operations, has pledged to personally work with Tebow this offseason to polish his passing game and help him become a better quarterback.
He has a willing pupil in Tebow, who said his offseason goal was "to work pretty hard and try to get a lot better."
Elway said he wants to show Tebow what he learned, which was this: Mobility is great, but to compete for a championship, you have to become a pocket passer. That's what Elway learned late in his career, which he capped with successive Super Bowl titles after losing the big game three times.
"Hopefully, I can teach him what I learned over my 16-year career," Elway said, "to be able to tell him what I learned in Year 10, hopefully get that to him in year 3 or 4."
Tebow took over a 1-4 win-loss team in October and guided the Broncos to their first playoff berth since 2005. But the clunky dual-threat quarterback completed just 46.5 percent of his passes in the regular season and 40.4 percent in the playoffs while compiling an 8-5 overall record that included five second-half comebacks.
His 80-yard touchdown toss on the first play of overtime beat Pittsburgh in the wild-card round and capped his best performance as a pro. Then, he had the worst completion percentage — 34 — in a playoff game since 1998 in a 35-point loss at New England on Saturday.
Tebow's growth was stunted by the NFL lockout and Kyle Orton's status as the starter through training camp and the first month of the season. Despite winning seven of his first eight starts, the Broncos were unbalanced under Tebow. They had the league's best running game but were ranked 31st in the 32-team league in passing.
Broncos officials liked the way Tebow handled pressure. Elway said what he went through in his career in this quarterback-crazed city was nothing compared to what Tebow has to endure.
Elway said his scrutiny was mostly local, "but when you look at Tim Tebow, what he went through was nationally based or maybe even worldwide-based. I mean, you talk about people Tebowing outside the Eiffel Tower, you know, that kind of tells you."
Still, Elway said Tebow was unaffected by all the attention.