ENGLEWOOD, CO - JULY 28: (L-R) Center J.D. Walton #50, quarterback Tim Tebow #15 and quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos take part in training camp at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre at Dove Valley on July 28, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Perhaps the best thing that was to happen for the Denver Broncos this week is Kyle Orton's unwillingness to restructure his contract. He wants to be paid and he wants to become a free agent in 2012. The Broncos stand to gain everything, while losing nothing (except cash money). The risk of this decision is 100% with Kyle Orton and I am okay with that.
Make no mistake, Kyle Orton is at his peak as a player and quarterback in this league, so don't expect Tim Tebow to cover six years in one off-season. I do believe Tebow has far more upside, but we live in the here and now. However, that doesn't mean Tebow won't be getting a share of game day reps. What we have is a perfect situation for a two-headed quarterback beast in 2011 and a game plan that doesn't suck!
A quick run down of the roster tells me that not only is this team better from the top down than last year, but this team wasn't as devoid of talent as a 4-12 record would suggest. If Orton can overcome his recent history of failures on third downs and in the red zone, we could actually compete in the weak AFC West Division. I'm not predicting 13-3 or anything, but I have decided to be cautiously optimistic if Orton starts this season. Obviously, Orton could be dealt tomorrow and we'd be all-in with Tebow. I don't consider that to be a bad thing long term, but it would make this year one of experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with a .500 record something worth cheering for.
Also, I expect the Broncos to be better on defense - at least in the top 20 (Yikes!), and I expect the offensive line to be a more cohesive unit in both the pass and the run. The talent the Broncos are amassing at running back suggests we intend to the run the ball...A LOT. All of these things should equate to improvement on the field and in games.
My point is that Kyle Orton starting for the Broncos is not the end of the world for Tim Tebow, his fans, or the Broncos organization. The risk of this move is 100% on Orton. He is playing for the big payday this year and free agency next year. If he fails or has the same performance on third down and in the red zone in 2011, he will not get the long term contract or pay he desires. For the Broncos, having Orton in 2011 is a win-win situation. Tebow needs another year to develop and he will get playing time, but he won't have to deal with the 16 game-long pressures of winning today.
Perhaps we'd all do well to look at this from a practical standpoint. There need not be any precipices to stand upon or leap from. From a practical standpoint, Tebow needs another full year to develop and Orton is at the peak of his abilities and career. From a practical standpoint, we might be able to compete in this weak division with predictable Orton at the helm and wildcard Tebow in the wings, which makes it harder for opposing defenses to game plan against us. From a practical standpoint, the Broncos might actually be a good football team...