Let me start by saying this fanpost reflects my opinion, and I don't expect everyone to agree. Kyle Orton is, at the least, a serviceable NFL quarterback. Despite how I feel about him, Orton will have a decent career as a starter in the NFL. I'm in agreement with Orton fans (let's call them "The Mediocres") when they state many teams would be happy to have a guy like Orton as their starter. I'LL BUY IT. OKAY? That said, I've always expected more out of the Broncos. I've never believed we're on the same level as a team like the Raiders, and refuse to accept the recent move toward mediocrity. More after the jump...
Why do some NFL teams seem to choose mediocrity? Let's take a look at the Buffalo Bills. I'm not going to bore you with stats or numbers. If you want them, you know where to look for them. We all know the Bills aren't going to the Super Bowl this year. As a matter fact, we all know the Bills won't be going to a Super Bowl in the next decade. As a child, I watched the Bills dominate the AFC. They were the premier team in our conference, but have since fallen into the depths of mediocrity. Every year, the Bills avoid the big trades, and never look to make a big splash at the quarterback position. As a matter of fact, you could probably say that about every position on their team. The Bills consistently pick up decent players for a price they can swallow. The Buffalo Bill's front office decided long ago that losing is acceptable if profit is still being made. I used the Bills as an example because I have a close friend who loves them more than his wife. As a fan of the Bills, he's fallen into the trap of mediocrity. He's just happy to watch his team play, even though he knows winning isn't part of the equation. Seeing his team in uniform, it seems, gives him plenty of satisfaction. Sound crazy? Maybe not.
Most of us remember the days of John Elway. We have happy memories of winning back to back Super Bowls with him leading our team. But what about the early days of John Elway? What is it about him that made us want to watch every minute of every game? If you haven't already guessed, it was his ability to take over and win a game at any moment. What did you say? We have less than a minute to get 80 or more yards? I got that. At least, that's what I imagined Elway telling the coaches on the sideline. His confidence shined through in every situation. In our hearts, we always knew he would give us a Super Bowl. It was frustrating to lose so much before we finally won, but nothing could stop him in his quest for excellence. Thanks to John Elway, the Denver Broncos were a consistent threat throughout the 90s. We became the first team to finally break the long-running AFC curse, and bring back-to-back Super Bowl trophies home to Denver. Mediocrity was unacceptable. The front office, the players, and the fans all agreed the Broncos would continue to be an elite team moving into the 21st century. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Somewhere along the lines, the search for the next Elway seemed to get old. After all, nobody would be able to replace "The Duke". Griese, Plummer, Cutler, and Orton were all decent quarterbacks, but none of them made us believe we could win. Plummer got us deep into the playoffs, but faltered at the critical moment. Cutler had a great arm, but didn't seem to have the heart of a Bronco. Orton actually played very well in his first couple of years with the Broncos. However, as each season came to a close, his body couldn't seem to hold up and his play wained accordingly. Injuries and poor play especially hurt Orton at the end of last season. Say what you want about him being injured, Orton's last two games with the Broncos were some of the worst I've ever seen. I was embarrased to say the least. I remember thinking to myself that we needed a gamer. We needed someone who could perform in any situation, injured or otherwise. We needed someone who would give us that spark. Luckily, there was this guy named Tebow sitting on the bench, itching for a chance to make his mark.
Tebow's first three games as a Bronco were nothing short of unbelievable. If you weren't screaming your head off and downing beers, you probably were rooting against him from the start. How could you not love a guy who puts his body on the line? How could you not love a guy who will do anything to win? Sure, the football didn't look perfect on release. Sure, he had happy feet and didn't stay long in the pocket. But is that all you got? The stats don't lie. Tebow broke records, and put up great numbers when given the opportunity to start. Not to mention he had his first NFL comeback victory against the Texans. At halftime against the Texans, I was frustrated and didn't feel like we were letting Tebow play his game. I remember telling my son the gameplan would probably be dropped, and the coaches would let Tebow do his thing since we were so far behind. The situation looked bleak, but something stirred inside of me. What was that feeling I had in my heart? I truly believed Tebow could bring us back in the game, if only allowed to do it his way. Sure enough, my heart never lies. The second half against the Texans brought many gasps, and maybe even a few tears. In my mind, the future had arrived. Tebow wasn't John Elway. He was his own beast. I thought with Tebow at quarterback, teams would tremble when Denver came to town. I know what I saw. And I believe many of you witnessed the same thing. Something was different about Tim Tebow. Maybe it was only three games, but he gave most of us a reason to believe again. None of the above mentioned quarterbacks after Elway gave us that hope. They were serviceable, and certainly weren't the worst quarterbacks in the league. As a matter of fact, any of them would be instant starters on a team like the Raiders or Bills. However, we are the Broncos. There's a different standard for quarterbacks in Broncoland. We expect more, and Tebow gave us more in his first three games. No disrespect to Kyle Orton, but he had his chance and disappointed us when it meant the most. Tebow's time had come.
As trading began last month, I was sure Orton would be gone. We would accept a fair price for his services, and go with Tebow as the starter. The kid would need time to learn, but that goes without saying. With a new coach in town and a team on the rebuild, Tebow would have time to hone his skills. Then the unimaginable happened...nobody traded for Kyle Orton. Why? Was Orton holding up the trade by requesting a ridiculous contract? Were the Broncos asking for too much in the trade? I don't believe it was either of those factors. The truth is EFX knew teams wouldn't offer much in compensation for a guy carrying an 8 million dollar contract. Besides that, Orton hasn't finished the last two seasons healthy. You don't give up a second or third rounder for someone with questionable stamina issues. And once you consider the way everything has fallen into place, it's obvious EFX knew Orton would be the starter for the Broncos when the season began. The Bronco's front office never believed in Tebow as the starter. Instead, they saw him as a marketing machine. Who else could bring millions to the team by sitting on the bench? And I'm not talking about Michael Vick. They certainly weren't going to show a lack of confidence in Tebow, because they wanted us to believe he had a chance to be our quarterback. I get it now. We've become like the Buffalo Bills. Mediocrity has become acceptable, as long as profit is being made. And we'll continue to root for our team, while Bowlen and his cronies laugh all the way to the bank. Go Broncos!