Orton Is Miles Above Tebow On Broncos
Or do they?
Denver’s personnel decision-making triumvirate – now known by the charming acronym EXF for John Elway, Brian Xanders and John Fox – shopped Kyle Orton on the trade market after (and likely before) the NFL opened for business on July 27.
Yet the market for mediocre quarterbacks dried up quickly as Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Cincinnati and Seattle acquired Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Kevin Kolb, Bruce Gradkowski and Tarvaris Jackson, respectively.
EXF thought they had a deal in place to send Orton and his talents to South Beach, where he could reunite with mercurial former-Bronco Brandon Marshall. Yet the proposed trade with the Dolphins fell apart after Orton and the Miami failed to come to an agreement over a contract extension.
The prospect of shipping Orton out of town and beginning the much-ballyhooed Tim Tebow era was highly appealing for Broncos fans.
The fanbase was eager, perhaps overly-eager, to see what the Heisman-winning, two-time national champion, golden boy QB from the muggy swamps of Florida could do.
Then, interestingly, real NFL football practices began at Dove Valley.
To the consternation of many, Orton demonstrated early, often and consistently that he is far and away the best QB on the Broncos’ roster.
All Tebow proved is that he cannot play. He is not ready to play. He might not ever be ready to play.
Watching practices in person at Dove Valley and at the intra-squad scrimmage at Invesco Field at Mile High, any honest football observer will quickly see that Tebow looks awkward at QB; he cannot go through pass progressions in a timely fashion, is still learning how to read coverages and he continues to have a litany of mechanical problems which cause inaccurate and inconsistent passing, even on what should be elementary throws.
The coaches see it. The rest of the Broncos players see it. The media sees it. Some fans see it. And some fans choose not to see it.
Perhaps at some point Tebow will develop the requisite skills to be a champion-level QB in the NFL. Yet, at this juncture, Tebow is who we thought he was – a great guy with world-class character and intangibles but who is a raw ball of clay who will require a great deal of sculpting, prodding and kneading to be molded into a starting-caliber QB.
The Broncos organization has to consider the position in which they find themselves.
EXF is attempting to restore the Broncos to respectability. At this time, the goal of the organization is not to challenge for a Super Bowl in the next two to three years, but rather to restore the franchise's credibility in the wake of the carnage wrought by Hurricane Josh.
To do this, EXF (most especially F) have to prove to the 90 players fighting for a roster spot that they are 100-percent committed to winning every possible football game. The players and coaches have seen, better and with more frequency than any fan or sportswriter, that Orton is the superior QB.
Starting a certain player because he is popular with the fanbase sells a lot of jerseys and endorses a lot of products, but who is also an inferior player to his competition, sends the wrong message.
This message – that the most marketable and charismatic people, not the best football players, get the hot jobs in Denver – will undermine not only EXF’s credibility with their current players but also with any and all free agents whose services the Broncos could conceivably compete for in the offseasons ahead.
Sure EXF recognize Orton is not a QB who is likely to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl. But what choice do they have? They tried to trade him. He wouldn't acquiesce to the Dolphins' contract demands and the trade fell through.
Then once Orton took the field and proved himself the best QB, Fox and his coaching staff have to make the choice of starting Orton or losing the lockerroom. The choice was easy.
Tebow and Orton, as well as Brady Quinn and undrafted rookie Adam Weber, will have a chance in the next four weeks to prove themselves in the preseason games. But Orton is so far ahead it will be a Herculean task for any of the other three to surpass him.
There is no quarterback controversy in Denver.
The only real battle is over who will be the backup, and who will be the backup’s backup.