I've been to camp. I've watched the team. I've read the reports. I've listened to the non-stop coverage on our local sports radio stations. I've read most of the articles here on MHR. I've done my best to make heads or tails out of what is happening and I have finally come to a conclusion on the state of our sports nation.
Nobody has a clue.
Everyone has an opinion, but nobody has the answer. It's not out there, waiting for you to find on page 232 of your Google search. Trust me, I tried. Eventually all you get to is porn.
Thus, what I'm about to write will probably end up on page 230 of that Google search. I don't have any insider knowledge. I don't follow some secret source on Twitter. I can't even get Lindsay Jones to throw a re-tweet my way.
I do, however, watch the same things, read the same articles, and know some of the same facts about football that those a-holes who won't throw me a re-tweet do. After nearly two weeks of this roller-coaster ride a few things have started to become clear to me. I've heard enough. I've watched enough. These things haven't given me an answer but they have helped me form a strong opinion.
Orton's biggest threat isn't Tebow or vice versa... and there is something wrong with our boy KO.
The Broncos are rebuilding. We can probably all agree at least on that. I am sensing, however, a point of view that there is a very real possibility that the Broncos can be a worse team this year than they were last year... and that would be okay. I want to be very clear right now. There is no reason, not one, that the Broncos should be a worse team this year than they were last year. 4-12 is unacceptable. 3-13 is a disaster. 2-14 or worse is an utter collapse and should truly depress this great fanbase. There is no reason for us to settle for less. Not if the goal is to rebuild.
There's a word that coaches like to use a lot and that is progress. It's the silver lining of bad. It's one thing to be bad but moving in the right direction (hello Detroit Lions) but it's an entirely different thing to be bad and moving in the other direction. Coaches want to know, are we seeing some kind of progress in our players, in our schemes, and in our execution? In a rebuilding year the answer to that question absolutely must be yes. The Broncos must show progress over last season. At this moment, right now, Kyle Orton must also be a part of that progression.
Why Kyle Orton's Biggest Threat to Start Is Not Tim Tebow
There's something wrong with Kyle Orton. I don't know exactly what it is, but there is something wrong with our current QB1. Everywhere I read and everything I hear people are rallying behind Kyle Orton... but nobody wants him or seems to really believes in him. It's all over these boards. Even his supporters here say "Kyle Orton gives us the best chance to win but we're still going to suck!" Like that is some kind of argument in favor of keeping him. Are you kidding me? What the hell kind of logic is that?
I don't get it. I don't understand how everyone looks at his stats and goes "hum, he's not that bad. He'll be good for some other team" while in the back of their minds they seem to be thinking "just not our team".
I don't understand how Kevin Kolb, a QB with such limited play experience, tiny resume, and poor W-L record can land a #1 overall draft pick kind of money while Kyle Orton is being bargained for a presumable 3rd rounder and he can't even get a decent contract extension.
Everyone is singing his praises... but nobody wants him. How is that possible? I can understand a fanbase that had to suffer through our miserable season last year wanting to say "hey thanks but see ya, best of luck, we're rooting for you to continue to be slightly above average". The sympathy pat on the back. I get us appreciating him and not wanting him. That makes sense to me. But every other team with QB needs? Why isn't he their answer?
We love stories that express that kind of appreciation sentiment because it makes us feel good. We aren't heartless bastards ready to throw away a QB we know wasn't the real problem. It's the classic, it's not you it's me excuse. We make Kyle Orton feel good he's leaving. He feels good, we feel good. Everything's kosh right? Please. Nothing is kosh. Something isn't right here. Kyle Orton, for all the praise he gets, is not wanted and now we tried to make the break but it didn't work. Awkward.
What does it say about a quarterback with the statistical success (a deflection that says please don't pay attention to his win-loss record, that's not the true story) that Kyle Orton has had who can't seem to get teams excited about his prospects. I can't answer that. But it intrigues me, and it concerns me. Kyle Orton isn't wanted for a 3rd round tender. What are other teams seeing that we don't? Did you know that the Broncos don't even sell a Kyle Orton jersey in their Dove Valley pro-shop? Not even one. It's like we aren't supposed to like this guy.
Where does Kyle Orton fit in this new regime? Does he even have an identity as a Denver Bronco? What is going on?
Kyle Orton's greatest concern should be his contract and what his continued employment with this team represents. It would seem Kyle Orton is a Bronco by force, and mere economic choice. An arranged marriage. You won't see him setting up car dealerships in town. He'll probably be more than happy to help increase his professional value, collect his money, and vacation far far away.
But if he is going to collect his money, he sure as hell better earn it. No more good stat passes. Fans should hold him to the only stat that matters... Wins. None of this he's the best QB but we're still going to suck BS. That drives me crazy.
Kyle Orton must be better than 4-12 if he starts. I know a lot of you are probably going to flame me and say that W-L is meaningless but it's not anymore. Kyle Orton doesn't get another crappy W-L pass. Our defense will be better. Our run game will be better. The Denver Broncos will be better in 2011-2012 and if Kyle Orton is starting, he must be better too.
Progression. It's not enough anymore for Kyle Orton to be consistently average. If he wants the big contract extension, if he wants these fans to finally rally around him, if he wants his jersey in the pro-shop, and if he wants to be appreciated in this town he must be better than just average. He needs to be better. He needs to surprise us. Kyle Orton needs to show us something new... because more of the same is exactly what a rebuilding time like the Broncos cannot have. That money would be better used elsewhere.
So to Kyle Orton, you're still here and this is awkward. I have a new it's not you it's me letter. Please don't smash the windows in my car.
I was willing to say hey thanks for the memories, better luck at your next job. It wasn't you, it was us. We were the ones that sucked and you were the good one. Sorry we couldn't be better for you. I'll root for you when I watch the fifteen seconds of post-game recap I catch on Sportscenter every Sunday night. I'll think about what could have been between us. If only... This was going to be a polite break-up.
But when I wrote that two weeks ago I thought you were really leaving. Now I have to be honest and say after you left I would have tried to forget that you were ever here, like I would have done my best to forget most all of last season. Don't worry, it wouldn't have been you. It would have been me. You would have been a casualty of a very bad year and a half.
I was trying to be nice. I was trying to say what everyone else is saying, that you are really a good QB that has just played for bad teams... even though I don't really think you are a great QB... or ever will be. That statistically you should be worth way more than some Kolb guy who just signed with the Cards for the contract you dream of.
But now that you are still here, and the chances of you moving on are dwindling, it's time I say what I feel. The it's not you it's me phase is over. If we are now in an arranged relationship then things have changed. If this team doesn't do better than we did last year, if you don't play better than you did last year, we are going to have serious beef. We will need counseling.
I don't understand why no other teams want you. It'd sure be nice though if you could prove them all wrong. But please don't take your 8.5 million and smugly watch this team flounder for another season. This may have just become another job to you, but this is my team. You get to move on if we fail, I don't.
Kyle, we went out and got your defense. We got you a run-oriented coach. We got you some new backs. Make us better. No more good-stat-years-that-net-us-3-wins. No more.
A concerned fan
P.S. Seriously, don't screw this up.
Why Tim Tebow doens't have to be better than Kyle Orton to earn the job
Tim Tebow needs to show Coach Fox that he can execute. Let's get real here. Tim Tebow, as far as second year players go, is still very raw when it comes to NFL experience. He must convince Fox that if he is the starter he can do what is asked of him without making too many mistakes.
That's they key. Not making mistakes. Rookie(ish) QB's aren't going to go out and set records. It's nice when they do, don't get me wrong, but their biggest goal, their #1 priority, is to execute. Tim Tebow isn't going to be asked to go out there and win games on his own. He doesn't have to. Any coach understands that's not a responsibility of a young QB. Tebow's goal must be execution and this is where the short offseason has hurt him badly. Execution in sports is achieved through repetition, and repetition is accomplished over time. Time is greater than one week.
I can't stress this enough to all you out there that are looking to find the answer to our QB crisis in Training Camp. This is the first week. This is the worst our team should look all season. Progression. That's what we are looking for here. Don't hang on to every interception as a sign our QB's are failing. That also means our defense is getting better. I don't care so much about how each QB did in practice every morning when I wake up early to read KK's daily recap. I want to read these words, "The Broncos are looking better." What I want is at the end of this Camp for his final review to say the Broncos have progressed. They were rusty in the beginning, but they look polished now.
If you are stressing because Tebow is getting a bad rap for his TC performance... stop. I guarantee you he will get better as camp goes on. If Tim Tebow can prove to EFX that he can execute in gametime, he'll get his chance. Tim Tebow doesn't need to beat Orton in camp, he needs to prove himself. That's it. Then the Broncos can turn back to seriously consider trading Orton and his contract again and take that money to shore up holes on other parts of the team.
If you are delighting in Tebow's struggles in camp and using it as a foundation to make your case for Orton starting you are missing the point. If Orton is your guy for starter, pay attention to his development. Kyle Orton of 2010 has to show progress. If your argument is that status quo is just fine, it is not fine. There is nothing "fine" about 3 wins. He needs to be better just like the whole team needs to be better. Orton doesn't get to hide behind his passing stats anymore. He must win. He needs to show he can earn that 8.5 million because if Brady Quinn can win us 3 games he'll match Orton's status quo for pennies on the dollar and I'd much rather he do that and let the Broncos use Orton's salary to give out free beers.
We've got Tebow on the cheap for the next four years. If he is the QB that shows progress, that shows he can effectively run this offense, than he absolutely needs to be the one getting his reps in. Earning that experience and showing us his potential. I want an improving Tebow for 2 million a year much more than I want a what you see is what you get veteran in KO at 9 million a year for the next 4 years.
Bottom line, Orton is expensive for this rebuilding Broncos team. If he's going to earn his paycheck 4-12 is not acceptable. Don't accept it. Don't be okay with a free pass this year. In my opinion, we must win at least 6 games with Orton or Tebow under center. But especially with Orton. If we go 4-12 with Orton again... then this season will truly have been a waste at the QB position.
Status quo is unacceptable. We must be better.