Confession: I haven’t been this excited about the Denver Broncos since this moment back in 2009:
After those famous fist pumps to the Mile High crowd, I was certain the Denver Broncos had made the coaching coup of the century. Mike Tomlin who? Bill Belichick, what? Pat Bowlen had proven his genius yet again and my Broncos were supposed to be back on their way to franchise dominance. When we put the icing on the cake with a W over the San Diego Chargers the very next week, I was positive that we could go deep into the playoffs and possibly contend for a Super Bowl. The Chargers, after all, had dominated us for the better part of a half decade before that game and had somehow surpassed the Raiders as the Broncos chief (no pun intended) rival. Philip Rivers, you may remember, taunted Jay Cutler from the sidelines after a brutal loss in 2007. Victory tasted good. I was riding on cloud nine and ready for the next chapter of Broncos dynasties.
You all know how that turned out though. The Broncos missed the playoffs in one of the worst collapses in NFL history, finishing the season 8-8. From there McDaniels would lose the locker room, make one of the most controversial draft choices of all time, and eventually get fired midway through the 2010 season.
It was a hard time to be a Broncos fan.
And it was still hard to be a Broncos fan about four weeks ago when John Fox made the controversial decision to hand over the starting job to Tim Tebow after Kyle Orton proved for the millionth time that he is merely Kyle Orton. And then, something weird happened.
In a brutally frustrating game against the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos found themselves yet again trailing in the fourth quarter. It was the type of game Kyle Orton was notorious for mailing in over the years. And look, I don’t blame him for it at all. He played with a bunch of crap teammates for a long time and I totally get why he was so easily frustrated, most especially with a defense that couldn’t keep his high octane offense in games.
But this guy Tim Tebow kept running onto the field like it was the first quarter and nothing had happened yet. His ability to completely wipe away the memory of the last three quarters was astonishing to witness. All of a sudden he was leading a late drive. All of a sudden we had a QB who didn’t get pissed off because the pressure was reaching him in the pocket. All of a sudden, the Broncos scored and had an outside shot pending an onsides kick. All of a sudden, the Broncos won a game in which they trailed by 15 with less than three minutes left.
And I can tell you that to most fans, this is the quality that attracts most of Tebow’s followers. Too often we’ve been burned by Orton giving up on games, we lived with Carmelo Anthony loafing through quarters like he was playing pickup with his buddies. To see a superstar who plays every down like it might be his last is just fine with the residents of Denver, a city that has struggled mightily in sports as of late.
The next week pretty much got ready of any momentarily relief though. The Lions did what every NFL talking head in the country predicted a good NFL team would do to Tim Tebow. He was sacked like a bigillion times, so much so that I’m almost positive they stopped keeping track. A Lions lineman did Tebow’s own pose over him after bringing him down. So much for that hope.
And then, something even more amazing happened than the Broncos comeback win in Miami. The Denver Broncos coaching staff decided to adapt to the personnel that they had rather than force an identity they didn’t have. I think this is the greatest miracle in all of this, given how stubborn NFL head coaches have become over the years and how notorious they are for resisting change. It was one of McDaniels’ biggest problems. He never was able to realize he no longer had Tom Brady on the roster and couldn’t adapt to life without him (and that Belichick fella).
They decided that they would go against all of the “wisdom” of NFL analysts and actually see if a zone read offensive attack could work in the NFL. And you know what. It works. It f—ing works. NFL defenses and all of this alleged speed that was supposed to prevent it from succeeding haven’t a clue how to stop it. The Broncos have racked up 299 and 244 yards in consecutive weeks and now find themselves one game out of first place in the division and the most improbable of playoff runs.
And all of those crazy events are exactly the reason I am so damn excited for tonight’s game against the Jets. Once again the Broncos have had to listen to a (shortened) week’s worth of criticism about how all of this is just catching teams by surprise and how it can’t work in the long-term. And tonight they have the chance to give one of the greatest middle fingers to ESPN’s “experts” in the history of sports analysis.
The Jets present the toughest of matchups for a team like Denver that has so committed itself to the run. They have excellent cornerbacks that allow their defense to quite literally put every other defender inside the box to protect the rush. And you know what? I still say the Broncos win anyway.
Everyone seems to forget that the New York Jets have Mark Sanchez at quarterback. He’s awful. He forces more turnovers than Jay Leno forces awkward, unfunny jokes into his opening monologues. If Sanchez comes out and throws an early pick or three, forget about it. It’s all over. The Broncos will pound one of those possessions into the end zone, and that’s all it could take. Which brings me to point number two.
This game is going to be extremely low scoring, given the identities of both the teams. There is NOTHING Rex Ryan loves more than a game between possession-heavy, run-based offenses that really rely on their defenses to go out and win them football games. Well except for maybe all-you-can-eat buffets.
These games are usually decided by what team turns the ball over less, and if there’s anything Tim Tebow does well in the NFL, it’s that he never turns the ball over, most especially through the air. Mark Sanchez on the other hand will likely lose this game for the Jets tonight by trying to play the hero role he’s so clearly not cut out for.
Speaking of going to the air, this brings me to my next point. The NFL is all about the ability to adapt from week-to-week. You don’t really think the Broncos are going to continue to run the ball 55 times a game, do you? Tell me you’re not that stupid! The Broncos are implementing a new offense on the fly and you can count on them incorporating many pass plays into this option attack over the coming weeks that teams haven’t seen yet on tape, much like what Tebow used at Florida.
You know that defenses in college arrogantly thought the same way that NFL defenses do now and gave him single coverage all day, right? You know that either of the following two plays have the potential to happen every single down, yes?
And it is with all of these thoughts in mind that I will be making my first journey out of the house specifically to watch a Broncos game in over two years. I don’t have a Tebow jersey yet, but if we win tonight, one will be on its way to my residence before I go to bed. It’s never been more fun to be a Broncos fan. It’s exciting. It’s thrilling. We literally can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.
And other than winning a championship, that’s the best feeling in the world as a sports fan.
It became official this morning. From ESPN:
The Denver Broncos have confirmed Tim Tebow will be their starting quarterback after the bye week in a game against the Miami Dolphins.
The Broncos (1-4) say they will have two practices for him this week as the starter before taking the bye and will install training-camp like practices to facilitate the change in starting quarterbacks.
The timing of the move is unique. The Broncos play the Dolphins on Oct. 23 in Miami, and the Dolphins, who lost Chad Henne for the season with a shoulder injury, were trying to trade for benched starter Kyle Orton before the start of training camp.
Next Tuesday is the trade deadline, but it would seem unlikely the Broncos would trade Orton to Miami and have him potentially start against Tebow.
The best argument I’ve heard (beyond my own) was actually by the Rockies beat writer Troy Renck this morning. Renck said something to the effect of players in the lockerrom support guys who make plays. And there’s no argument that Tebow made plays while Orton did not.
Hey look at that John Fox. You insert Tim Tebow into the lineup and something crazy happens. The Broncos actually start playing with a little bit of heart, a little bit of inspiration as if they actually want to win a football game. What I honestly can’t figure out though is why Kyle Orton can’t do the same thing. I’ve heard legendary stories of feats that the man has pulled off in practice when no one is watching. It’s precisely why almost every skill player was vouching for him in the media prior to the season. It’s exactly why he was named the starter in the first place this offseason over Tebow and Quinn. But for some reason, when the whistle blows on Sunday afternoon all of that goes out the window.
It’s a cop out for me to sit here like I’m Colin Cowherd and declare some completely illogical diagnosis of what exactly it is about Kyle Orton that makes the Broncos so awful–they are now 6-22 in his last 28 starts, if you’re counting at home. But it’s also irresponsible to not point out that we have a significant sample size now that this is not just some strange coincidence. No one seems to have faith in the guy. I don’t know whether that’s because he’s a dick behind the scenes, because he’s fed up with playing in a city that never appreciated him and never fully gave him a chance, or because he’s just not that good of a quarterback. My guess is it’s probably a combination of all three of those factors and that they started to weigh on his conscience over his time in Denver. The breaking point finally came at half time yesterday. And there is no going back.
This now leaves the Broncos in an excellent organizational position, in my not so professional opinion. They find themselves in that win-win situation I described at length for you before the season started. For those unfamiliar with it, here’s the summary. The Broncos literally have nothing to lose by starting Tebow the rest of the way. There’s something exciting about watching him play. It’s going to keep the stands filled with fans and it’s going to make the Broncos relevant in a year where they have no business doing so. Watch how much his jersey sales spike in the coming weeks as proof of this. And so the logic follows that either a) Tebow will be horrible as everyone assumes which means the Broncos will likely finish 2-14 and hopefully find themselves the winner of the Suck for Luck sweepstakes or b) Tebow proves that he actually is a solid starter in this league and the Broncos find themselves just a few defensive linemen away from being a fringe playoff contender next year. There is no losing for the Broncos in the long-term.
This new situation also allows the Broncos to hopefully trade Orton before the season is over, meaning they could probably net a third round draft pick to aid in the rebuilding process. It’s ends a hostile relationship between a player that felt he was far better than anyone gave him credit for, and a city that really never gave him a chance. It’s best for everyone involved if they go their separate ways now.
And yet I can’t help but go back to Orton. I can tell he’s a better thrower than Tebow. I can see that he’s a way better quarterback. It’s quite obvious after watching either of them play for five minutes. I don’t know how else to say it though except that he seems to know he’s going to lose before he ever starts. He’s like the cooler of NFL quarterbacks.
Is it a lack of confidence? Did the lockerroom turn on him? Did he lash out at John Fox in front of the rest of the team? Was he just so awful that he forced the head coach to deal this hand? There’s a great book to be written one day about how all of this went down, with inside accounts from the coaches, linemen, and receivers telling the story. Something dramatic has to have happened.
For now though, Tim Tebow is officially the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
And that sounds pretty sweet to this Broncos fan.
I can’t tell you enough how against this I am. From USA Today:
Eight Broncos fans who planned on attending the Super Bowl have instead focused their resources on another cause: running QB Kyle Orton out of town.
The clan of eight die hards, led by Independence, Ky., native Jesse Oaks, have pooled the $10,000 they planned to spend on a trip to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, and intend to buy a Denver-area billboard expressing their disgust with the team’s QB situation.
“Obviously we’re not going to the Super Bowl this year or even the next year,” says Oaks, a 24-year-old self-employed in construction management. “So we want to spend that money to better our team.”
After watching with disgust as the Broncos fell 23-20 to the Oakland Raiders in the home opener Monday night, Oaks rallied his group and took to the team forum on DenverBroncos.com with his proposed billboard idea around 1 PM ET Wednesday. The thread exploded and Oaks says he received hundreds of emails, most offering encouragement and contributions.
“We gave Orton two years,” Oaks says. “He can keep us in games, but he does not give us the best chance to win.”
Oaks says they don’t necessarily want Tim Tebow — they just don’t want Orton.
“We’re not Tebow fanatics, we think Tebow gives us the best chance to win,” Oaks says. “But if Brady Quinn or even (practice squad QB) Adam Weber can give us a chance, that’s what we want.”
Kyle Orton gives us the best chance to win right now and if they can’t see that, allow me to be the first person to revoke their Broncos fandom.
Alright, alright, alright I’ll address the Broncos quarterbacking situation again. In case you haven’t been bombarded by ESPN yet, Denver fans burst into a “we-want-te-bow” chant during Monday Night Football earlier this week despite the fact that Kyle Orton came pretty damn close to leading a nice comeback. Some rogue fans from Kentucky are even going so far as to spend their savings which they had intended to use to go to the Super Bowl this year to instead post billboards in Denver stating their feelings against Orton. That s— is weak if you ask me, by both the fans who cheered for Tebow to come in and the douches purchasing the billboard, so let me clarify my feelings on this issue.
For the twelve or so people who read the site regularly, you might remember earlier this season that I was in fact calling for Tebow to start myself. My general feeling was that Orton will never forgive the organization for the Dolphins trade rumors and furthermore will always have a chip on his shoulder about the city and fans because of how openly they’ve called for Tebow over him. It’s a lose-lose for all parties. You might remember that I called for Tebow for two important reasons. The first was that I actually believe he’s a terribly quarterback who would lead the Broncos to a dismal 1-15 record which would actually be the greatest gift of all time because it would ensure Denver gets Andrew Luck. The second reason was that there is still the slightest of possibilities that Tim Tebow actually pans out and, if that miracle were to go down, the Broncos would instantly become one of the top three most popular franchises in American professional sports. I even went so far as to imagine the extent to which Mile High Stadium would shake if Tebow was leading a surprise playoff berth. I don’t believe the latter scenario is likely but my logic is solid in that the Broncos win either way. They either put themselves in the solid position of being able to walk away from Tebow because they did give him a chance, or he actually proves he belongs in this league and endears himself to the fans and franchise forever as the true successor to Elway. Win-win.
What I’m not doing though is joining this ever-growing legion of wack jobs who will follow Tebow to the ends of the earth like he’s a strange religous cult figure. If you want my honest opinion on the present situation, Kyle Orton was actually money on Monday night. Our offensive line is a disaster that gives him absolutely no time to sit in the pocket and make good passes and he still eclipsed the 300-yard mark. He was a stupid fumble away from leading the Broncos to a victory and these lunatics are calling for his head mid-season?
No way. You can’ do that to the players.
I supported the move to ditch Orton in the offseason, but there is absolutely no way I’ll support the move to do it during it. Any Broncos fan caught rooting for a drastic move like that is a fake and a phony and shouldn’t be able to call themselves a true fan. I mean honestly Tebow-ites out there, have you watched him play lately? Did you see how awful he was in the preseason? The guy drops back, keeps his eyes on his primary target the whole time, and then does one of two things: fires an inaccurate pass or gets sacked from sitting in the pocket too long. He is no where close to being ready, most especially with that disaster of an offensive line. It shocks me that fans actually believe he’s the better quarterback at this point.
What bothers me the most is the fan who somehow makes the connection in his brain that because Tebow is a hard worker (A), who is a nice guy (B) and is devoted to God (C) that he’s automatically going to be a success in this league. A+B+C does not equal D in the NFL. These Broncos fans know that John Elway was actually kind of a dick, right? That he was notorious for sleeping around on his wife? That he had a mean competitive streak that rivaled Jordan? You might just call him the anti-Tebow for all it’s worth and yet he was a great quarterback despite all those character flaws.
For this upcoming NFL season it’s time to start getting used to the idea of Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos QB1. He is the only hope the Broncos have at salvaging some kind of pride for those guys in the lockerroom and that will go a long way as the franchsie continues to rebuild. Those players will never forget how Orton got them through the tough times when we sucked, which will make it all the more sweet when we continue to retool and eventually climb back into the NFL’s elite.
So no more of this we-want-te-bow crap all you fans who go to the games at Mile High. At least for this season, that dream is over. Time to support our favorite beck-bearded leader.
Generation Y, where we’d like to be the first to predict Notre Dame’s third straight loss this weekend.