They say that "when you think you have two quarterbacks, you really have none". There are a lot of people out there who believe that the 2010 Denver Broncos are fatally flawed because of what they perceive to be an unsettled QB position. After all, if thinking that you have two QBs is bad, having four must be terrible! Much like last year, however, the reports of the Broncos' demise have been greatly exaggerated. In this case, perception once again falls far short of reality. It's almost as though the Broncos are written in a language that the general punditry hasn't bothered to learn how to read! Even a cursory review of the main characters involved in this so-called drama in Denver reveals that things are much clearer than the critics may lead you to believe.
Opinions are like belly buttons: everybody has one. Well, when it comes to head coach Josh McDaniels, I'd say that they're more like fingers: everyone seems to have ten and the most prominent ones are usually the bad ones when they stand alone. However, if there's one thing about coach McDaniels that we know, it's that everything on his team is earned. In his short time at the helm, he's already traded away multiple fan favorites and players coming off of trips to the Pro Bowl, elevated journeymen to starting roles and spent his most valuable resources building depth and long term stability rather than targeting needs that were perceived as being more pressing; in other words, there are no sacred cows in Orange and Blue anymore. Why is it, then, that people seem to think that the quarterback position will now be handled so differently?
Kyle Orton came to Denver under the dark cloud of the Jay Cutler saga. A perceived throw-in, he was even considered by some to be a disappointment by those meager standards! Nevertheless, McDaniels chose him and that's about all that matters in that story. Orton became and remains our starter because he earned that distinction. He earned his roles on this team, not just by besting Chris Simms during the offseason, but with his performance as a Bronco both on and off the field every day since. It's true that the administration still saw fit to revamp the depth chart behind him and it's also undeniable that his days in Denver are most likely numbered because of those moves. That said, I still think that he is ultimately in control of his own destiny.
Kyle's the only candidate for the starter's job that has any experience in McDaniels' system and we already know just how valuable that is. And before anyone forgets, he actually executed it quite successfully last year. Moreover, he has a personal track record of improvement that - coupled with the added experience throughout the offensive unit and coaching staff - has him poised for an even more impressive season in 2010. Simply put, Kyle Orton will remain our starter until one of his competitors earns it more than he has and I find that unlikely at this point. Unfortunately for him, the QB hot seat is not a new experience. Thankfully for us, he's always handled it well. I still believe that he's a good enough quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl and I hope that team turns out to be the 2010 Broncos. Regardless, it's been a treat to root for a guy like Orton and I'll always wish him luck.
Brady Quinn has a lot of things going for him. He has the right pedigree, looks the part of a star quarterback and says all the right things when he's behind a microphone. He's hungry for the opportunity to finally cash in some of that tantalizing potential and succeed as a starting QB in the NFL. Moreover, he came to Denver at the expense of fan favorite Peyton Hillis, so many will read that perceived value into his acquisition and hope that it pays off to that degree. All of those attributes have earned him a fair share of fans within our base and that's certainly understandable. Some have even stated and others still maintain that he's in Denver to take Orton's job; I, on the other hand, believe that he's here to replace the departed Chris Simms as our dependable and experienced back-up. Despite being handicapped by clearly deficient supporting casts in Cleveland, Quinn has undeniably and quite thoroughly struggled as a pro. While we can all hope that he will right that ship as a Bronco - and McDaniels obviously believes that they can help him toward that goal - it's unreasonable and unfair to expect that out of him right away. Though I believe that the Broncos QB competition is truly open and will be perpetually ongoing, I just don't see him coming out on top of it any time soon, if ever.
The selection of Tim Tebow out of the University of Florida with the 25th overall pick in April's draft really kicked off the rumors of Kyle Orton's demise in Denver and the fall of the 2010 Broncos with him. "Why would a coach on a short leash invest so heavily on such a prospect at that critical position if he doesn't intend to turn the team over to his new QB sooner rather than later?", they say. In short order, the incessant derisive commentary about Tebow's prospects as an NFL quarterback was replaced by a chorus of voices clamoring for his immediate ascension to the rank of starter in our Orange and Blue. Skeptics became advocates apparently so that they could remain critics of McDaniels on some level. Suddenly, there was a QB controversy in Dove Valley!
Another camp has pushed the idea of Tebow as an immediate starter or, at very least, the implementation of a plan to make that so sooner rather than later. They are genuine in their efforts and sincere in the belief that this would be the best for everyone involved. I just can't see that happening. I'm on the record as a fan of Tim's. I believe that he will be a roaring success at the next level and I'm happy that he's a Bronco. That said, I did not publically advocate his candidacy for Denver and I never really expected the pick until our maneuvering on that fateful day began in earnest. I was and remain satisfied with Kyle Orton as our starter in the short term and simply look at Tebow as a change of pace guy this year and the eventual long term solution at QB.
I would be remiss if I did not at least briefly mention Tom Brandstater as part of the QB equation for the Broncos at this point. As you can imagine by my placement of him in this discussion, I don't think he'll figure prominently in the competition for the starter's job. I like his ceiling, but haven't ever been quite so high on him as to see him as anything more than a project at the position. I hope that they find a way to sneak him onto the practice squad where he can continue his development under the auspices of the gifted staff on hand in Denver and that he'll eventually become an asset to the franchise commiserate to his impressive potential. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he's the odd man out sooner rather than latter.
So let me see if I can put this in plain English for the MSM: there is a quarterback competition going on in Denver right now, but it's not controversial. No one involved will allow it to devolve into something like that. Moreover, there are similar competitions like it throughout the entire roster. In fact, there will always be such competitions in Denver, at least for as long as Josh McDaniels is the head coach. Competition is an integral part of the foundation of what he's try to build there. No one's job will ever be safe, so they'll all have to go out and earn it every day. His players will push each other to new heights and be better prepared to step in for one another. This team will be forged in competition and it will be stronger for it. To that, I say this: may the best men win and may they never get the chance to rest on their laurels. Go Broncos!