Tim Tebow was named the Broncos starting quarterback on Tuesday following an inspiring second-half performance in a 29-24 loss to San Diego. (Joe Mahoney/AP)

Even as Tim Tebow’s last-second Hail Mary fell incomplete on Sunday afternoon, keeping the Denver Broncos from a wild come-from-behind win, all signs pointed to the second-year quarterback getting his shot at the starting job following the team’s Week 6 bye. The Early Lead’s Matt Brooks detailed the case for Tebow one day after he replaced an utterly ineffective Kyle Orton in the second half against the Chargers:

It was always a matter of when, not if, for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

When would the team’s struggles with Kyle Orton at quarterback force new coach John Fox to make a change? When would the chorus of “We want Tebow” from the Mile High faithful become too loud to ignore? When would one of the most popular players in the NFL who has yet to accomplish anything finally get his chance to be “the guy” for the Broncos?

On Sunday the wait ended as Tebow replaced Orton with Denver trailing San Diego 23-10 to start the second half.

Despite a shaky start that saw him complete just one of five passes for zero yards, Tebow found some rhythm in the fourth quarter, showing his running ability with a 12-yard scamper and then tossing a 28-yard screen pass to Knowshon Moreno that went for a touchdown to pull the Broncos within 26-24.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is all smiles as he talks to the media after being named the team’s starting quarterback. (JACK DEMPSEY/AP)

Tebow was unable to lead his team all the way back, but the moxie he displayed on Denver’s final drive showed why the fans have been clamoring to see more of the second-year signal-caller — and why the Broncos may turn the reins over to him full-time following their bye week.

As expected, Broncos head coach John Fox made the quarterback change official on Tuesday, announcing that Tebow would be the team’s starter coming out of the bye week. As the Early Lead’s Cindy Boren reported:

Tim Tebow will be the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos after the team’s bye this week.

Players were informed of the switch from Kyle Orton this morning, the Denver Post reported.

Tebow’s first game will be against the Dolphins in Miami, yes, Miami,on Oct. 23. That’s the same day the Dolphins plan to honor the 2008 University of Florida team that won the national title. And was quarterbacked by ... Tim Tebow.

So what prompted the decision other than Orton’s struggles and the team’s rocky start? And how did the two quarterbacks take the news? Here’s the report from an Associated Press story:

“Well, I think 1-4 has a lot to do with it,” Fox said. “We haven’t gotten it done as a football team. It’s not one guy. It’s not all Kyle Orton’s fault. But we do have to make adjustments, we have to change and we have to do something to win football games.”

Tebow said he was “honored to get this opportunity. I’m very excited. ... I just know that every day I’m going to come out here and practice every day I can.”

Orton said he was disappointed but vowed to support Tebow and the rest of his teammates.

“I’m disappointed with everything,” Orton said. “I wish I could have played better. I wish we had a better record. There’s a lot of things, but reality is what it is.”

The League’s Sean Moroney urged Denver to give the fan favorite a shot last week — because, at this point, what have the 1-4 Broncos got to lose?

Essentially Denver wanted no hint of Tebow controversy, so they proclaimed “Not only is (Kyle) Orton better, but so is (Brady) Quinn and some guy you’ve never heard of.”

What Denver management does is its prerogative. However, it just doesn’t make sense, since Kyle Orton’s has been busy cementing himself as a loser. Notoriously being great between the 20s yet consistently failing in the red-zone (proclaimed by NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi), Orton has managed to go 3-10 in his last 26 starts in games decided by one score.

After filling in for an injured Rex Grossman in 2005, Orton managed a 10-5 record by not being horrendous. After Grossman took his job back (Orton’s passer rating was 59.7), Orton finally got another chance two years after Chicago’s Super Bowl run. In that time, he was 11-7 and had a passer rating in the 80s. In his last game with Chicago, he lost a must-win game to a 7-8 Houston Texans team, which would have clinched a playoff berth.

Orton was then traded to Denver for Jay Cutler and won his first six starts. However, since that, Orton’s true colors have come out. He’s currently 6-20 since, including losing another must-win last regular season game in 2009 to the 3-12 Kansas City Chiefs that would’ve sent Denver to the playoffs.

So I’m in the same boat as most Denver fans. If you are going to stink with Kyle Orton anyway, why not just play Tebow? With Orton you at least know it’s not going to end well, whereas Tebow is still an unknown.

Plus, with his fanbase, if Tebow turns out to be a winner isn’t that the ultimate upside guy?

Now that Moroney and legions of Broncos fans have their wish, why not have some fun and look ahead to what the rest of the season holds for the Tebow-led Broncos. Moroney did just that on The League:

October: Tebow merchandise goes through the roof. Kyle Orton is dropped in all fantasy leagues. Everyone suddenly realizes Tebow might be a fantasy sleeper (seven touchdowns in three starts last year), when they realize his rushing statistics for a quarterback are absurd.

Tebow wins his first start over the 0-5 Dolphins after being honored in front of both teams for his college accomplishments. He then pulls off a major upset at home, knocking off the previously-unbeaten Detroit Lions.

November: Tebow is on the cover of Sports Illustrated (that still matters, right?), and is not only owned in all fantasy leagues, but is one of the most coveted players. Rough spots here and there with a tough November schedule (at Oakland, at K.C., vs. Jets, at SD), but ends up splitting the games, improving Denver’s record to 5-6 (2-3 in division).

See how the rest of Tebow’s 2011 season could pan out on The League...

More Tim Tebow coverage:

Early Lead: Tim Tebow named Broncos’ starter; Kyle Orton’s No. 2, Brady Quinn is ‘best boyfriend’

The League: Bracing for Tim Tebow fever

John Fox: Denver Broncos turning things over to QB Tim Tebow

More NFL covereage from The Washington Post:

Redskins are alone atop the NFC East

Detroit Lions are making history and winning hearts in Detroit

Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers near their fifth stock sale