The quarterback position is the most heralded in the entire sports world.
At one point he could be a team’s savior, their God on the gridiron; the next he’s fallen from grace and blamed for all the misfortunes brought on a franchise
QBs are too often equated with the bottom line. They are the ones who win or lose games.
No one else on the field—even the head coach—is held as responsible.
QB records are constantly brought up as a way to gauge their success, as if the other 52 players aren’t on the field.
The Denver Post ’s Mike Klis put the comparison in the QB competition section of his piece today saying, “Plummer went 39-15 as starter. Broncos have gone 25-28 since Mike Shanahan found Cutler’s arm irresistible.”
Shanahan thought Cutler was the Broncos’ future at the quarterback position, but it turned out he didn’t even know what his future held in store.
While it’s extremely difficult to find a franchise QB in the NFL, a legit quarterback competition is even harder to find in 2010.
Instant gratification rules the day in everything from Twitter to Hot Pockets, it has even seeped into sports.
The free agency revolution in the '90s meant that the glory days of having a player drafted by your favorite team and keeping that player for his entire career were over.
A similar attitude has been taken by owners regarding their coaches lately, and short coaching tenures have become the norm.
Without a doubt, there is a "win now or lose your job" attitude that prevails in the professional sports world today.
Coaches cannot afford to sit back while multiple players at the most important positions battle to see who will come out on top because of short time spans on both ends.
Since the Plummer /Cutler clash this time five years ago, only four other true QB competitions have played out in the NFL; Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn, Kurt Warner/Matt Leinart, Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers, and Donovan McNabb/Kevin Kolb/Michael Vick.
Now it’s come full circle and the Broncos quarterbacks are in the spotlight once again.
While Shanahan had built up a resounding resume, including back-to-back Super Bowl victories with the Broncos, Josh McDaniels’ QB contest comes in only his second season as Denver’s leader.
McDaniels isn’t worried about uncertainty hurting his job security, though. He’s a firm believer that competition will bring the best out of everyone.
“We told our team that the best players are going to be on the field. We don’t care if they were a college free agent, a first-round draft choice, or where they came from. We’re just trying to get a view of the best team that can help us win. I think the same would go for that (QB) position,” said McDaniels, as posted on Mile High Report, after rookie mini-camp April 30.
And after denying reports that the Broncos were out shopping Kyle Orton, McDaniels said today, “We’re going to let them compete and the best guy is going to play.”
There’s a truly open quarterback competition in Denver between Orton the incumbent, Brady Quinn the former first round pick, and the Broncos’ 2010 first round pick Tim Tebow .
In the midst of the biggest media hoopla to surround the Mile High City since 1983 when a young gunslinger named Elway came to the wild west, these three men aren’t at each other’s throats—they’re giving a helping hand.
Orton was nothing short of noteworthy in 2009, throwing for career highs in yards (3,802), touchdowns (21) and QB rating (86.8), but his current contract doesn’t nearly reflect what a starting quarterback earns nowadays (one year, $2.621 million). Still, Orton isn’t pulling a Brandon Marshall and deliberately practicing poorly or whining to every available media outlet—he’s been tight-lipped about the matter.
Despite being the rookie and taking a bit of hazing that includes carrying Orton and Quinn’s helmets, Tim Tebow is already beaming about his blossoming relationships with his fellow QBs . “Those guys have been great. It’s a great friendship. Those guys, they do it right. I’m glad to be a part of it,” Tebow said Monday after practice.
But surprisingly, while all the attention has been paid to Tebow and Orton, it’s been the odd man out, Quinn, who has been the most vocal about the Broncos’ QB fraternity.
“Quarterback is one of those positions everyone wants to talk about all the time. Selfishly, rightfully so,” Quinn said in the USA Today . “We’re a bunch of good guys.”
Asked whether he will help Tebow even if it costs him the starting job, Quinn continued, “I’m not some vindictive jerk like that. I try to bring guys along. I’m going to do what’s best for our team, and help whoever is on the team.
“I think people get the wrong misconception of how guys are. Outside of here, guys are close.”
So no matter how much the media lusts over a knock-down drag-out battle, Denver’s QBs are acting like the Broncos’ 2010 version of the “Three Amigos.”
But who will start?
Well, that question remains to be answered, but one prominent Bronco weighed in Monday.
“They’re obviously like polished vets,” said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey . “They’re on top of their stuff. It’s going to be a good battle but I tell you what, Orton—until he shows anything different—he’s my guy.”
And while McDaniels touched on his QB competition, he wouldn’t guarantee that Orton will be the starter in 2010.
“That’s usually how it goes—the starter is the starter until somebody beats him out,” McDaniels said. “Everybody earns their own role. The best player will play. It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive end, punter, quarterback, center—if he’s the best player, he’s playing. And right now (Orton’s) the best player. He’s in there first in the huddle. He knows the most.”
“Does that mean that’s a guarantee for the season? No, and he knows that,” McDaniels finished.
So it turns out this competition has been healthy and will force the cream of the crop to rise to the top. But it’s created some unforeseen circumstances as well.
This QB competition has made each player a companion of one another—a testament to each one’s character and a complete attitude change at altitude.
Whether Broncos Country loves him or not, McDaniels is achieving his team-first mentality and a foundation for winning that is as solid as the Rocky Mountains.
This original article can be found on NFLTouchdown.com .
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance sports journalist. Along with being the Denver Broncos Featured Columnist on NFLTouchdown .com, Kurtzman is the Denver Broncos FC for bleacherreport .com , the CSU Rams Examiner for examiner.com and the Colorado/Utah Correspondent for stadiumjourney .com .
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