With Tebow Waiting, Pressure to Win Is on Orton
by Gus Jarvis
Aug 20, 2011 | 1110 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the National Football League lockout finally ended, we in Bronco Country thought the Denver Broncos would do everything in their power to stay away from any sort of quarterback controversy as teams work through the preseason in anticipation of the regular season. It first seemed Denver didn’t have a controversy, and then it did, and now it doesn’t. Do the Broncos have a quarterback problem?

Well, they shouldn’t. The team has three big name quarterbacks all ready to take the field, and after last week’s first preseason matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, it looked like all three of Denver’s QBs were ready to play, and play well. But lets back up a bit here.

When the players and the owners agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the business in Denver was to dump Kyle Orton. The team needed to ease its financial burden of last year’s starter and give second year quarterback and conservative heartthrob Tim Tebow the leading QB role.

It seemed like it was a foregone conclusion that Orton was leaving Denver, especially when Denver wasted no time putting him on the trading block and began negotiating with the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, Bronco fans across the country were lining up to buy Tebow jerseys. He was going to be Denver’s No. 1 – that is, until coaches finally got a good look at both QBs in action at training camp.

At that point, Denver’s starting quarterback scenario became about as clear as mud. It seemed to coaches and all of ESPN’s wonky NFL insiders that Orton was clearly the better of the two, and that no way should coach John Fox start Tebow over Orton.

“Orton has the NFL experience, his numbers are good, and Tebow just doesn’t have the proper mechanics of an NFL quarterback yet,” all the ESPN insiders exclaimed in one way or another.

While Orton’s passing numbers make him out to be a very successful quarterback and he may look like the better quarterback at camp, Bronco fans still seem to want Tebow at the helm. Those ESPN insiders will say fans don’t understand what they are asking for when they say they want Tebow as the No. 1. The analysts see Orton as a good passer, a guy who can put up some numbers. Fans, myself included, see Orton as a great player, but he doesn’t have the moxie to be a winner, and that’s what I think everyone besides the analysts see in Tebow. We want a winner.

Now, maybe if Orton had a better defense and a better running game, it would be easier for him to be a winner. Even so, I still don’t feel the guy has what it takes to take a game into his hands and win, like John Elway once did. If it’s a touchdown the team needs in under a minute, Denver needs a leader who’s going to do whatever it takes to get the ball in the end zone, even if it isn’t pretty. I’m not sure Orton has that instinct. I just don’t see it.

Tebow may not have the finesse of a seasoned NFL quarterback, but I know he has that killer instinct to win the game. We have all seen this guy lower his head and crash across the goal line.

As it is now, it looks like Orton is going to be the starter in Denver, and he didn’t look bad against the Cowboys in last Thursday’s preseason opener when the Broncos lost a real heartbreaker, 24-23. He didn’t play long, but he did hang in the pocket a few times, and converted a third and long situation. He played like Kyle Orton can play. No surprises there.

I don’t think there were any surprises in the way Tebow played, either. Getting most of the minutes, Tebow did some scrambling, ran one into the end zone, and threw an interception that was eventually called back by the refs. Tebow played like Tebow. He wasn’t pretty. His play was rough around the edges, but he was effective, and he had a sense of urgency.

Probably the biggest surprise was No. 3 quarterback Brady Quinn, who led the Broncos to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Quinn, who has been in the shadows of the Tebow-Orton conversation, looked good too, although granted it was against a lot of third-string Dallas secondary.

If the Broncos were to leave it up to Denver’s faithful fans, Tim Tebow would be the starter, only because he is fresh and we haven’t seen him blow a big game yet. That being said, I think everyone is fine if Orton is the starter, but you’d better believe the pressure is on Orton more than ever before.

If Orton can’t convert key third downs, fails to score touchdowns in the red zone and simply doesn’t show a win-or-die attitude, fans will want his head on a platter and want Tebow behind center.

And if Tebow can’t do what the fans demand, then we’ll go to Quinn, and see what he can do. At least the Broncos have options. I don’t know what’s in store for Denver regarding what it takes to make the postseason or not, but I know they must do better than last year. Last year was an embarrassment, led by the play of Kyle Orton and dragged down by a terrible defense.

Pressure’s on, Kyle. We’re all watching with our Tebow jerseys on.

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