Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow has been a controversial figure this season, helping his team get to the second round of NFL playoffs by narrowly beating the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this month, before suffering a brutal defeat the following week at the hands of the New England Patriots.

Nevertheless, executive vice president of operations and former quarterback John Elway is standing behind his new star player. "I think Tim's earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year," he said about Tebow's plans for 2012 at a season-ending news conference on Monday. More than half of the questions directed at Elway during the conference were about Tebow, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"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." That means that Tebow, who famously referenced Bible passages in the eye black he wore during games before the practice was banned, will have his work cut out for him during the offseason. Elway says he will "help Tim in every way I can, to be able to improve through what I learned."

Elway will draw from his own experience to help Tebow hone his formidable skills. "At the same age I had a long way to go too," Elway said. "But I probably, at times, moved too much, relied too much on moving around. Hopefully I can relay that, because my progression as a quarterback was that I finally realized later in my career that I wished I'd learned the fact that you do have to win from the pocket."

Some, however, are saying that Elway's endorsement of Tebow was lukewarm. "To me, that was a little weak to say, 'He is going to be the starter when we go to training camp," said analyst Brian Billick on NFL Total Access. Billick has some different advice for Tebow. "He has got to cut back on that rigid, thick [frame]," he said. "I know it keeps him alive as a running quarterback, but it does not bode well for his passing, the fluidity that he has to have. So that's, to me, job one in the offseason — he's got to change his mindset."

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