However, through all of this, he’s arguably the most beloved Denver Broncos quarterback since John Elway — and probably the most polarizing player in the entire league. Pretty impressive for a borderline “fourth-string” quarterback.
Still, Denver management and John Fox continue to pour the “Haterade” on Tebow. Why? Because Kyle Orton is not worth a third-round pick.
At the end of the 2010 season, Kyle Orton was benched in favor of Tim Tebow. Despite a pretty good statistical season (281 ypg, 20 TDs, 9 INTs, 87.5 passer rating), Denver was getting tired of Orton’s losing ways (more on this later) and decided to give Tim Tebow a shot.
Tebow did fine for a rookie, going 1-2, including an electrifying 24-23 comeback victory over Houston, in which he threw for over 300 yards. Sure, his completion percentage was not great (50 percent), but people overlook that when you’re an intangibles quarterback. Well, at least they do when you’re Michael Vick (career 55 percent completion percentage) ::cough cough::double standard.
So when Denver decided the Tebow era was on, they tried to ship Kyle Orton via trade. However, their potential trade partner, the Miami Dolphins, ultimately decided Orton wasn’t worth giving up a third-round pick. They instead signed back-up Matt Moore and kept much-ridiculed Chad Henne. Translation: Orton is not better than a third-rounder (i.e. a Colt McCoy-type), Matt Moore, or Chad Henne. Not the most impressive group.
So what’s Denver to do? They were essentially stuck with Orton, even though Denver fans were set on Tebow getting the quarterback gig. That’s why Denver figured the only way they could still play Orton is if they throw Tebow under the bus.
It started out cute: an open competition between Tebow and Orton. Then Tebow was fighting for the second-string job with Brady Quinn. Then it got to a third-string controversy with unknown Adam Weber.
Let’s stop for a second: Brady Quinn? Really? Quinn (3-9 record) has been so bad when given a chance — in nine of his 12 starts, he’s had a passer rating lower than 75, and 50 percent of his starts, lower than 50. That’s pretty awful.
What Denver management does is its prerogative. However, it just doesn’t make sense, since Kyle Orton’s has been busy cementing himself as a loser. Notoriously being great between the 20s yet consistently failing in the red-zone (proclaimed by NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi), Orton has managed to go 3-10 in his last 26 starts in games decided by one score.
After filling in for an injured Rex Grossman in 2005, Orton managed a 10-5 record by not being horrendous. After Grossman took his job back (Orton’s passer rating was 59.7), Orton finally got another chance two years after Chicago’s Super Bowl run. In that time, he was 11-7 and had a passer rating in the 80s. In his last game with Chicago, he lost a must-win game to a 7-8 Houston Texans team, which would have clinched a playoff berth.
Orton was then traded to Denver for Jay Cutler and won his first six starts. However, since that, Orton’s true colors have come out. He’s currently 6-20 since, including losing another must-win last regular season game in 2009 to the 3-12 Kansas City Chiefs that would’ve sent Denver to the playoffs.
So I’m in the same boat as most Denver fans. If you are going to stink with Kyle Orton anyway, why not just play Tebow? With Orton you at least know it’s not going to end well, whereas Tebow is still an unknown.
Plus, with his fanbase, if Tebow turns out to be a winner isn’t that the ultimate upside guy?