Color me surprised.
Two months ago, despite reports of a solid (if not spectacular) training camp by current starting quarterback Kyle Orton, all the buzz among Broncos fans was about Tim Tebow, who had already been anointed as the second coming of John Elway. The thinking went that Orton would hold down the fort this year with his typical numbers and Tebow would take the reins some time next season.
Pardon the horrible pun, but hold your horses, Broncos fans.
Three weeks into the season and, despite all the Broncos' flaws, Orton is playing lights-out football and is out to an even faster start than he was last year when he put up career numbers in his first year in head coach Josh McDaniels' offensive system. In fact, Orton is currently ranked second in the NFL in passing yardage thus far in 2010.
Yes, THAT Kyle Orton.
Yet, despite what the stats are showing, Orton is still considered a "game manager" with no arm to throw the ball downfield. No offense, but I think new star Broncos' receiver Brandon Lloyd would beg to differ. Orton and Lloyd are beginning to look like new version of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.
Yes, I just went there.
So, where does this leave Tebow? Well, the Broncos gave up a king's ransom to move back into the first round of this year's draft. McDaniels very well could continue to pencil Tebow in as the team's quarterback of the future and move Orton to another team to recover some draft picks he spent to get Tebow.
The thing is Orton is making that decision incredibly difficult to make. While McDaniels showed he isn't afraid to break up a good thing as he did by trading Cutler and later Marshall, those were players he had inherited. Orton is his baby so to speak. He brought him in himself.
As useless as "what if" exercises are sometimes in the National Football League, let's ask a "what if" question here:
What if Kyle Orton continues to put up big numbers and becomes a perennial Pro Bowler?
Well, that to me would give the Broncos a few options.
They could turn Tebow into a Pat White-type player. Then again, we saw how well that turned out for White in Miami.
They could move forward with Tebow and trade Orton for draft picks and some players. If Orton keeps playing the way he is, he would be worth at minimum a third, likely a second, and maybe even a first-round pick if a team were desperate enough for a quarterback (San Francisco anyone?).
McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders could move Tebow, but that option is at least a couple years down the road and that move would guarantee the Broncos took a loss and a very expensive investment.
Another option, which is the strangest but perhaps most likely, would be to keep both Orton and Tebow and convert No. 15 to some kind of a H-back. McDaniels is on record as saying Tebow would be a QUARTERBACK in the NFL, but no one would knock him for changing course if the Broncos are winning with Orton under center. Tebow's athletic ability is well known and his "anything for the team" attitude that everyone loves would make this an ideal situation.
That all said, Broncos fans know McDaniels sometimes bucks the conventional choice. He could have an alternative for Tebow that nobody sees coming and could work brilliantly. That's why he is the coach and we are not.
Of course, Orton could fall back to earth and make all this discussion moot, but his consistency over his career makes that unlikely.
It will be interesting to watch and this will likely be one of the biggest questions going into 2011.
Assuming there is a season. Maybe Tebow can save the 2011 season for us fans. That would be a true miracle.
But that's an article for another day.