What if I told you that Tim Tebow was destined to put up some pretty impressive numbers as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos over the next two seasons?
What if I told you that, in his next 32 starts, Tim Tebow will throw for over 8,000 yards? In those 32 starts, he’ll boast at least 20 games with a passer rating above 88, and of those, at least nine will eclipse 100. What if I told you that two different wide receivers will earn Pro Bowl berths under Tim Tebow in the next two years?
Sounds great, right? You’d be pretty happy if your quarterback performed that well, right?
I just described Kyle Orton‘s first two years in Denver.
The embattled Broncos signal caller now has 30 starts under his belt in Denver, two starts away from two full seasons. Injuries have kept him sidelined for thirteen quarters in Denver, so to reach my 32-game projection I’m including the 2009 Washington Redskins game that saw Chris Simms technically start (Orton played all but the first quarter), and I’m projecting that Orton throws for at least 46 yards next week (I have a wild imagination like that).
Kyle Orton is not the problem in Denver. Just about everything else has been.
But that and a losing record haven’t stopped people from chanting for his backup (again). Today, Florida Today columnist John A. Torres (from Florida, naturally) penned yet another “Start Tebow!” piece that has been making the rounds around the Broncos blogosphere. I can recite the all-too familiar arguments out loud before I read them on paper:
“Tim Tebow is a winner. He is a hard worker and the kind of guy everyone wants on their team. He is the big, strong bull of a quarterback who can rally teammates around him and bring an organization back to greatness. He’s the guy you want as your son-in-law.”
(Yes, that’s an actual quote from the article.)
Yet the column, alluring and well-worded as it is, is centered around arguments with glaring inherent flaws, and as always, I can’t believe I’m the only person who sees them.
Torres throws out the personal agendas of John Elway and John Fox as possible motivating factors for Tebow’s benching. Either they’re prejudiced against Tebow’s Christian faith (utterly preposterous), or they’re dead-set on distancing themselves from the mistakes of Josh McDaniels.
Naturally, Torres completely ignores the fact that Kyle Orton is only in Denver by McDaniels’ good graces in the first place, but let’s not mention that.
Then, of course, there’s the main argument to any “Start Tebow” discussion. A point I’ve heard echoed a thousand times by fans and sports radio talk show hosts and bloggers and columnists more prominent than Mr. Torres.
The main, focal-point argument starts like this: “The Broncos aren’t going to the playoffs, and they’re not going to the Super Bowl. Why not play Tebow to see what they have?”
The main, focal-point argument ends like this: “Tim Tebow is a winner who will not let his team fail. The Broncos should see what he can do. And they’ll win.”
(Look in Torres’ column. You’ll find I just paraphrased half of it).
Well, Mr. Crystal Ball, if the Broncos aren’t going to the playoffs, and if the Broncos are not going to the Super Bowl, then why not let anyone play quarterback? I’ll suit up in my Broncos blues right now and sling the ol’ pig skin to Josh Temple for four quarters in front of 70,000 fans. If we’re not going anywhere this season, who cares?
What difference would Tim Tebow being a “winner” make to a team already destined to lose?
And that’s the point. It’s not the conclusion (“Tebow is a winner”) that holds the flaw, it’s the supposition: the Broncos can’t win. Taking it a step further, that the Broncos can’t win with Kyle Orton.
The Broncos have every intention of winning as many games as they can in 2011, rebuilding be damned.
And right now, this week, the Broncos (and I) believe Kyle Orton gives them the best chance to do just that. It’s too early in this season to throw in the towel. They want to win, week in and week out, for the fans, but more importantly, for the players on that team. The veterans in that locker room do not want to work hard and fight through practice and tough it through games and risk injury for a team that’s mailed it in. Champ Bailey did not sign a contract extension in Denver to watch the Broncos admit defeat in Week 1 of this season. Can you imagine John Fox’s explanation?:
“Well boys, I know we said Kyle Orton gives us the best chance to win. But we’re going to go with Tim Tebow. Just because. We want to see what the kid has. For next year.”
John Fox says that, or even implies it, and he has lost every single man in that Denver Broncos locker room.
Kyle Orton is not perfect. Kyle Orton had a string of bad games dating back from last year. Not that he’s the only good quarterback to have a string of bad games, but that merits discussion. If that trend were to continue, and it cost the Broncos games, I’d be inclined to make a move.
But Orton isn’t the problem. The Broncos are not losing because of Kyle Orton.
Quarterback wins are the most overrated, overstated stat in professional football. How else can you explain Orton’s 21-12 winning record in Chicago compared to his 12-19 record in Denver? Orton is performing undoubtedly better with the Broncos than he did then. His stats the last two seasons blow his first four years in the league out of the water. The wins haven’t come. It’s not his fault.
I do not know if he or Tebow is the answer for next year. I think either of them might be. I also think it’s a strong possibility the Broncos add another player into the mix.
But I’m not talking about 2012. I’m talking about now. Week 3. 2011.
Who gives the Broncos the best chance to win games right now? In my opinion, and in the opinion of John Fox, that man is Kyle Orton.
And until Tebow outperforms Orton in practice (what a novel idea), or until Orton collapses down the stretch, Tim Tebow is right where he belongs: on the bench.