Today, I have become frustrated. The "quarterback competition" has been settled by John Fox, but the "quarterback controversy" remains. This "quarterback controversy" seems to have been concocted by the media and the fanbase because, for whatever reason, the name Tim Tebow generates a lot of discussion, page clicks and television viewership.
All I have been asked about for the past few weeks is "Orton or Tebow?. Orton is the starter. Tebow isn't. But the conversation remains. Instead of asking "who will start?" the question becomes "who should start?". As if we know better than John Fox what is best for this team....
I can't count how many times I've had the Orton/Tebow discussion on MHR, twitter, facebook and even a few times at work/school. I'm almost tired of hearing their names. Tim and Kyle. Kyle and Tim. Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton. Tim Orton and Kyle Tebow... It all gets scrambled after a while. I'm two seconds away from adopting the Josh McDaniels philosophy of calling certain people "the player".
Why must we do this to ourselves? Why must we beat this subject to death? Is it a requirement that everyone be labeled a "Tebow Guy" or an "Orton Guy"? If so, that's stupid. We can't escape it, though. Even non-quarterback related posts on MHR quickly turn into quarterback related posts when you scroll down to the comment section. Is the pivot point of a football team the quarterback? According to the big wigs at the big sports networks, the answer is yes. If you ask me, however, I'd say no.
Quarterbacks aren't the end-all-be-all of an NFL football team. Does it help to have a good quarterback? Sure does, but having the best quarterback doesn't punch your ticket to the Super Bowl. Just ask Hall of Famer, Dan Marino, how important the rest of the football team is.
Wouldn't it have been great to have a defense that could stop the run in 2008? To this day, the word "manual" makes me sick. Someone will hand me an instruction manual or tell me to drive a manual transmission vehicle and I'll start to miss tackles and blow coverages in my mind just like Marquand Manual would.
Now, after saying the quarterback position isn't the end-all-be-all of an NFL football team, I will say that the quarterback position is important. Having a bad quarterback means that your offense will probably struggle. Here again, a struggling offense means fewer points and fewer points means fewer wins.
So, am I just a walking contradiction or am I riding the fence on this quarterback situation? I believe that I'm neither. Quarterback is an important position, but having a good or great one doesn't guarantee success. The reciprocal is true, as well. Having an average or bad quarterback doesn't necessarily mean that your team will lose (see the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Buccaneers). To be successful in the NFL, you have to put the best "team" on the field. Maybe your coach is a huge fan of the running game. You might stack the offensive line with the beefiest, strongest dudes you can find, get some top notch runningback talent and ignore your QB and WR position. Can you be successful? Sure, you can. If you fully commit to that philosophy, get the proper personnel and get everyone to execute well on every play, then that type of offense is going to work.
Who Should be the Starting Quarterback?
Kyle Orton is the starter, but that doesn't mean Tebow and Quinn will fall off the radar. The quarterback conversation will continue.
To answer the question, however, I think we need to keep in mind what the Broncos want to accomplish on offense. I believe the Broncos are going to be fairly balanced on offense, this year. John Fox has said that he'd like to run the ball more, but that doesn't mean that we'll be a predominantly running team, if you ask me. Last year, the Broncos were 7th in total yards passing and 26th in total yards rushing. Offensively, we need to get those numbers to even out, a bit. This means that our offense has to stay "on time", meaning that every down and distance is manageable. To stay "on time" allows our offensive play calling to be more creative and unpredictable. Last year, the Broncos didn't do a good job of that.
Who gives us the best chance to stay "on time", if the season started today? Kyle Orton. It's pretty simple. He has been able to effectively move the ball with both deep passes to Lloyd, intermediate passes to Decker and Royal, and checkdowns to Knowshon Moreno. He takes what the defense gives him and moves the ball downfield. His connection with Brandon Lloyd is unmatched by any quarterback/receiver combination on the team. One could argue that it's one of the best connections in the entire NFL.
Am I concerned that Tebow was passed on the depth chart by Brady Quinn? Not really.
Think about it, this way... Brady Quinn is in his 5th year as an NFL quarterback. He was a first round pick out of Notre Dame, so it's not like this guy is a scrub. He just hasn't ever been given a quality opportunity in his NFL career, yet... and I swear, if someone makes a comment that the Browns are a quality institution to raise a pro quarterback, I'm going to lose my mind.
Brady Quinn is finally getting a fair shake and not a moment too soon. He was brought into Denver last year and struggled mightily during live action. I remember watching him during the 2010 preseason, where he struggled mightily against the Bengals. It was awful. However, that was his first game in a Denver Broncos uniform. He was in a new system with new terminology and new teammates. Being successful here wasn't just going to happen overnight. Fortunately, he has had some time to progress in the new offense and now he is showing people in Denver why he was worth the Peyton Hillis trade.
Brady Quinn has played third fiddle for over a year. With Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow supposedly vying for the starting job, Quinn has been an afterthought. But guess what? In May, there was serious talk that he was going to be the starting quarterback in Denver. Elway and Fox reportedly had him listed as the number one contender. Here we are a few months later and he's giving Kyle Orton a run for his money. He very well could be the starting quarterback on opening day.
He's just not ready. Would it be the end of the world if he was our starting quarterback? Probably not, but at this point, I think Orton and Quinn both give us a better chance to win football games. I don't think that being relegated to 3rd string brings the "Tebow era" to an end. It's only the beginning. This guy has still yet to complete a full year of NFL activity. He lost a full summer of OTAs to the lockout. That time could have been spent with NFL coaches, something that Tim Tebow desperately needs to get better. Working out on your own is all fine and dandy, but practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
And I agree with John Bena that trading or cutting Tim Tebow would be a vast overreaction and is highly unlikely. He just needs some time. He won't start this year, but that doesn't mean that he's done as a Denver Broncos quarterback.
He's the veteran and he is playing like he has a chip on his shoulder. The truth is, he does. Half of the fanbase is clamoring for Tim Tebow, but Kyle Orton is the starter and rightfully so. He has been with the Broncos the longest and he has the best rapport with Brandon Lloyd. Those two are dynamic.
Orton might not ever be Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, but when people say that he has "reached his ceiling", I take offense. Orton may not have the physical tools to be a Micheal Vick type player, but he can always be a more cerebral player. Reading defenses and making decisions is something that any quarterback can be better at, even Kyle Orton. What makes Peyton Manning so great is the ability to read defenses and make decisions. I, for one, hate Peyton Manning. He has been a Broncos killer since he got into the league. However, I've always respected him as a student of the game. Kyle Orton might not ever be a Peyton Manning, but he can be a smarter football player. The more football wisdom he can acquire, the quicker he is able to process information and make wise decisions on the field. However, with all that said, you have to stay healthy. That's my biggest concern with Orton, at this point.
I wish I could say that this quarterback controversy can be officially put to bed, but I know that would be an oversight, on my part. Quarterback controversies are created because that's the money position. Nobody ever gets bent out of shape over kicker position battles or gunner position battles.
Even though Kyle Orton is the starter, there will still be a ton of angst and media attention because Tim Tebow is on the roster. Tebow-mania will not cease until he has been named the starter, traded, or released. I don't expect any of those options to happen this year.
So, we wait...