It will be a very interesting, and a very different Broncos team that takes the field from now on. Utilizing Tim Tebow’s talent is certainly going to create a new offensive philosophy, and one that I think really mirrors what John Fox is more known for in the first place. Further proof of this is that, in spite of what opinions were as to why Kyle Orton was the starter, Fox was indeed very interested in Tebow prior to last year’s draft. He is a “Tebow guy”. Not only did he attend Florida’s Pro Day in the spring, but he also met one-on-one with Tebow as well, proving interest in drafting him. Many took the fact that Orton started as a slap in the face to Tebow, but the fact is, it was actually due to the lack of off-season OTA’s, 7-on-7 drills, and the many mini-camps that should have, but did not, occur.
For a young guy coming off a rookie season like Tim Tebow, this greatly put him behind in his progress integrating into the pro systems with all of the oh-so-important meetings and practices, but was further compounded by the fact that we made a coaching change so a lot of what Tebow had learned under McDaniel’s in his style of offense had to be thrown out the door in what Coach Fox wants to do instead. So logically, the experienced veteran got the nod and Tebow was allowed to observe from the sidelines and get more up to speed with the team practices. But that’s all water under the bridge now. It’s 2 months later, Orton struggled as did the offense, so enter the fire-and-brimstone style of play that Tim Tebow brings to the field! So rather than gauge the team thus far as the 1-4 team that our record indicates, I say wipe the slate clean and let’s see what we look like the next 11 games under Tebow.
Will we make the playoffs? Very realistically, doubtful. That’s a big hole to climb out of. But will we be in the “Luck Sweepstakes”? Very, very doubtful! We would have to basically lose on out to be the number one pick, and I just don’t see that happening whatsoever. If we hover around .500 over the next 11 games, I would indeed call that a successful transition to the Tebow Era. I look for us to be a run-first team (always a Fox philosophy), and with Willis McGahee, we’ve been steadily improving in that department as the O-line continues to block as a more cohesive unit. McGahee is on pace to have a 1300 yard, 8 TD season, and that’s a good way indeed to win some games, particularly now that with Tebow we’ll be a lot more explosive and unpredictable in the red-zone, rendering more touchdowns than field goals.
I foresee utilizing Tebow’s mobility in the passing game as well. Rolling pockets and designed bootlegs are advantages that a mobile QB gives an offense, one that Shanahan used masterfully with John Elway and Jake Plummer under center. A further advantage this gives us that it can help out a so-so pass blocking offensive line as well. I see more “power sets” with 2 Tight Ends, options for Tebow to throw short with quick reads, and as I had mentioned a couple weeks ago that came to fruition, the utilization of Knowshon Moreno in what he is better suited for: pass catching and getting him into open space where he can use his shifty moves to take the ball to the end zone, just as he did in that beautiful 27 yard TD catch-and-run against SD. This offense is going to unpredictable and very interesting to watch unfold!
Looking ahead, yes, trading Brandon Lloyd disappointed many, but I understand the reason completely. Lloyd is a bit injury-prone and had yet to find the end zone this season. He may even be a “one-hit wonder”. He had a fantastic season last year, no question! But the fact is, over his 9-year career he has been with 4 different teams, and prior that last season, is more of a 500-700 yards a season receiver. He was going to be a free agent at the end of the season, and we likely would have lost him anyway to another team willing to risk offering a high-priced commitment to a 30-year old receiver. The emergence of Eric Decker as our new go-to guy, our new play maker and touchdown scorer, made Lloyd expendable. And looking further ahead, if we were into Lloyd as a big commitment, since no team keeps 2 high-priced receivers on the roster when you have to consider the salary cap, we likely would have ended up losing Decker once his contract is up.
How popular would that have been among the Bronco faithful? The front office made a tough choice, did what they had to do, and shows that we are philosophically trying to build a younger team with our new stars and draft choices. On that note, letting Lloyd go did get us another pick in the draft, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what we needed to do! Elway, Fox and Xanders absolutely nailed a stellar draft this season and that’s only gonna help us to be what we are in the big-picture: a rebuilding team trying to get younger and build something up through the draft. Eddie Royal may or may not be on his way out after the season is over as well, we shall see. And I do like him, his character and what he does locally for the Mile High City is wonderful; very class act. But again, just looking at the football field, his production has been down since his rookie year. Perhaps Fox will learn to integrate him better than McDaniel’s did. The addition of Quan Cosby gives us a good return threat and takes away one facet that Royal had been great at.
The overall view is, we are a rebuilding and transitioning team. Patience is critical here. Calling for Fox’s head and saying that Elway is clueless are knee-jerk reactions to those who assumed we’d be a playoff team this season. Very seldom does that happen with a team and a first-year coach and new players at many positions. And that further drives home the point of having patience as well: starting over with yet another coach, and his new philosophy, and his new players, would just put us back to square one all over again. Have faith and have patience with our leaders, Broncos Country…we are on track and the ride will be exciting!