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Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy an unsung hero

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy confers with Tim Tebow who has gone 6-1 as starter this season. | Eric Bakke~AP

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy confers with Tim Tebow, who has gone 6-1 as a starter this season. | Eric Bakke~AP

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Updated: January 12, 2012 8:15AM

DENVER — Tim Tebow deserves his share of credit for the five-game winning streak the Broncos will bring into their game Sunday against the Bears. The second-year
quarterback has protected the football and provided clutch runs and passes in the fourth quarter.

But what piqued my interest was offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, hardly a household NFL name. He has overseen the
in-season overhaul of an offense without the benefit of a veteran quarterback and, from game to game and even half to half, has kept the opposition off-balance.

For instance, against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 27, Tebow carried the ball 22 times and threw only 18 passes. But against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, he ran the ball only four times and went 10-for-15 for a season-high 202 yards through the air.

‘‘Going back to the first game, we took baby steps .  .  . as we went,’’ McCoy told me Thursday at the Broncos’ headquarters. ‘‘We put in the option read. But we also have the rest of the team we have to take care of, so we can’t just say, ‘We’re going to just do this for Tim Tebow.’ Each week, we add a few plays here and there.’’

That mind-set is a stark contrast to the philosophy used by the Bears and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has insisted he’ll be even more aggressive with Caleb Hanie, who has struggled to show a command of the offense in two starts. Instead of working Hanie along slowly, Martz seemingly has dialed up plays as though injured Jay Cutler were still the Bears’ quarterback.

Meanwhile, McCoy also stressed the importance of being flexible.

‘‘As a coaching staff, we’re learning things from week to week,’’ he said. ‘‘  ‘Maybe this is not the best thing to do against this style of defense.’ So we change. We change weekly, and we make adjustments as the game goes along.’’

So it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Broncos will use the option read against the Bears’ quick defense.

McCoy also seeks input from his players, including second-year receiver Demaryius Thomas, who played at Georgia Tech, which used the option.

‘‘I ask a lot of questions,’’ McCoy said. ‘‘I don’t have all the answers by any means, and I’m fortunate to work with some very good coaches, who helped design the system.’’

Broncos coach John Fox told me he expects McCoy to be an NFL head coach someday.

‘‘Mike is a heck of a coach,’’ Fox said. ‘‘When I got the job, he was kind of a no-brainer [for the staff].’’

McCoy left Fox, who was the coach of the Carolina Panthers at the time, to become the offensive coordinator under former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. But Fox recognized McCoy’s coaching skills during their time with the Panthers.

In 2007, when McCoy was the passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the Panthers had the distinction of winning at least one game with four quarterbacks.

Fox applauded McCoy, his offensive assistants and the players for adjusting when the Broncos decided to replace Kyle Orton with Tebow after a 1-4 start.

‘‘We had a Tebow package, so some of those types of runs and some of those things were similar to what we had, but it was making them a bigger part that was a key,’’ Fox said. ‘‘We’ve grown that over this seven-week period.

‘‘It’s been a tremendous effort and a good team effort.’’

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