We all know what happened yesterday, our team got absolutely dismantled by the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. This was not necessarily a surprise, even the most diehard fan couldn't have believed we could pull this win out, I mean we are a rebuilding team going against the champs. But something curious happened, Tim Tebow was allowed to be on the field as more than a WR decoy. Nothing special came out of it, Tim took the snap from the Wildhorses formation and...ran up the middle for a one yard loss. But this one play, the play of our starting QB, and the decision to keep Orton in during garbage time sparked some very strong reactions from myself and pretty much the majority of people that decided to comment on the boards.
Trying to make sense of it all, I wanted to see what our coach had to say about these events and the circumstances surrounding them. So I've decided to take some quotes from John Fox's postgame presser and speculate what his words might mean about his philosophy as we move forward through the season, please join me after the jump!
These quotes were taken by me from his post game presser. Some will also include the reporter question when it is important to the exchange, but for the most part it is just Fox's response. Please note that while some of these quotes are cut off mid-response, I'm in no way trying to take John Fox's words out of context. It is what it is (haha) and I only included the part that was pertinent to my questions and the questions many of us are asking on the boards. Here we go....
Quote #1 about our offense
"Well I thought our offense was very impressive other than the turnovers, and you know it wasn't all the QB it was all of us..."
Bottom line, many of us fans don't equate four turnovers with impressive. We all knew it would be a tough game and to stay close would mean to play mistake free ball. I'll give Orton a pass on the garbage time INT that was tipped (though he does have a history of tipped balls leading to INT's), but he threw a pick 6 when we were down 7-3, and underthrew a wide open Brandon Lloyd for what would have been a TD later in the game. Daniel Fells also fumbled inside the 10 when we were down 35-17. An offense that is impressive doesn't give away 14 points like that. So Mr. Fox you and I will have to agree to disagree.
What this could mean as we go forward:
Fox overall still seems to be caught up in the fact that this was a shortened offseason, and that many of these mistakes can be chalked up to rust and inexperience. What I don't know is if this means he will be as forgiving as the year wears on. I think as a fan base we have to realize that Fox is looking at this from a short-term point of view in that his sample size is now four games plus preseason. Many of us assumed that with the retention of McCoy there would be less of a learning curve on offense, especially where the starting QB is concerned, given that this is Orton's 3rd year in this system. But a lot of the bad vibes the fanbase is feeling comes from the fact that we have a two-year plus four game sample size---and we don't like what we have seen past or present on the offensive side of the ball---most specifically from the starting QB.
Quote #2 about Tim Tebow's one play...the question was trying to guage why Tebow was only given one play in the Wildhorses formation and if the blowout dictated that his Wildhorse package was not prudent.
"Well that and we did it once and we lost yardage, so you know that wasn't all on him by any stretch, it just you know didn't prove to be real beneficial so we went in a different direction, and you know I thought we moved the ball pretty efficiently we just didn't score as many points as we needed to..."
Sitting on my couch as Tim waited for the snap I thought "I betcha he's gonna run, probably up the middle." I think this single play sparked the most outrage from the fanbase yesterday and here's why. On the majority of snaps took from the Wildhorses formation last year, he ran. In fact I can only remember once---the TD pass to Spencer Larsen against the Chiefs---where Tebow passed from this formation. And many of the playcalls from his first starts, more specifically the QB draws, were usually up the gut. So if me a layman fan sitting on my couch knows this, wouldn't the defending SB champs know this as well? It's probably not the best idea to expect too much from such a predictable play call. And if this was the way Tebow was going to be used, then what is the point? And this is where many of us fans felt insulted. We figured this was John Fox's way of saying "There---I played him are you happy?" Many of us remember McD making Peyton Hillis run back kicks or only letting him carry in garbage time against KC, or giving him a FB lead carry up the gut with about the same result....and afterwards saying pretty much "well he got a shot and didn't make the most of it." So don't insult our intelligence Mr. Fox, either play him or don't but don't waste our time.
What this could mean for the rest of the season:
I honestly don't know. The package hasn't been used in goal line situations where it would be most effective, and there has only been one pass play (could be wrong) out of the formation. My advice is, if you are going to use it, then use it with some creativity. If you are just going to run it up the middle, don't bother. I think that Fox is afraid of using it because contrary to his responses, Fox does hear the Tebow chants and fears the success of the package. Think about it, Tebow scores some TD's with it in the redzone where we have struggled and those chants will get louder.
Quote #3 about not getting Tebow some reps in garbage time...this will include the reporter's question because the exchange is important.
Reporter: "When it got outta hand late in the game five or six minutes to go, at any point did you think maybe you'd get Tim some snaps?"
John Fox: "Well I think like I've said many times you know I feel Kyle Orton is our starting QB and (Interrupted by the reporter)
Reporter: "Just for experience"
John Fox continues: "Well we need our starting QB to get experience and um for us to improve you know that's the idea behind that, that you know he needs to get better in our system. I know he gets judged a lot you know from the past couple years but uh, you know we're trying to get him better in our system and use that experience to get better."
Lots of interesting things here. To me, the reporter is clearly just asking about Tebow playing in garbage time. But Fox at first seems to misinterpret that as the reporter saying that Tim should be the starter, which he isn't. He clearly frames his question in the garbage time phase of the game. That should tell us that Fox hears the noise outside Dove Valley and is clearly getting tired of the questions regarding the QB position. The reporter senses Fox's misinterpretation and clarifies, and you have to go watch the presser to see Fox's frustration and tone as he responds with the spiel about getting Orton more experience. My point as a fan is that Orton has plenty of experience playing in our system, and in garbage time. Besides more under the center/playaction calls, and more runs, how different is this system from what Orton has had the previous two years? Terminology...what? In the offseason we were lead to believe that the retention of McCoy equaled a smooth offensive transition, did he reinvent the wheel over the course of several months? And finally what does a vet need garbage time experience for? Even Rodgers was pulled in garbage time…that is after his 6TD’s.
What this could mean for the rest of the season:
Don't expect Tebow in garbage time. The only exception could be an offense blowout in our favor, but even then he would only be in to hand off the ball. Also it is curious that Fox used Orton and getting more experience in our system together. In John Fox’s world, does Kyle Orton have a future as our starting QB beyond 2011? I think many of us view Kyle as a lame duck starting QB that won't be here next year. But as I said in the beginning, John Fox right now will use garbage time as he would have used minicamps in the offseason if he could. He has admitted that he is just getting to know his players and the evaluation is ongoing---as is true with most teams in the rebuilding process.
What did I learn from the game yesterday and from Fox's statements?
Kyle Orton is Fox's guy and as long as he is healthy he will be starting. Fox has no interest in 'developing' Tim Tebow as a QB because if he did, he might give him some reps in garbage time. In my opinion, Fox is scared of playing Tebow because once Pandora's box is opened, you can't go back so to speak. I think Fox is genuinely afraid of splintering the locker room. And Fox will definitely not play Tebow extensively in a game where Orton has struggled because he is tired of the noise coming from the fanbase outside Dove Valley and won't want to amplify it. John Fox is old school through and through. I think he resents the amount of attention a backup QB gets, and ordinarily I'd agree with him. But the fact is I've seen enough and 12-21 doesn't cut it from the QB in Broncos Country. If our team keeps losing and our starting QB continues to struggle, the tune might change. But until then Fox likes the station and isn't going to change it for any of us.
One final thought about the QB and locker room loyalties in regards to this situation. Champ, Dawkins...a lot of veterans in that locker room are in the back end of their career and many of them are sick of losing. We heard Champ speak up last year about wanting to play with Tebow. Losing gets old and it wears on you. This is the only way things change...see Shanahan in '08 or McD last year.
Someone asked yesterday if we wanted Tebow to start because we believed in him or we just wanted someone else at QB. My response to both was yes. But make no mistake, I want our QB to be exceptional. Aaron Rodgers showed how awesome a great QB is for a team, Peyton Manning's absence is proving it in Indy.
I already know what we have in Orton and it is not good enough.
Tebow might not be good enough either. But it would be a shame to find that out next year---and be drafting someone in '13 to build a team. I'm tired of losing and so are all the other fans. Our great organization has taught us well!
Thanks for reading and GO BRONCOS!!!