As an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who played for the Denver Broncos, John Elway needs no introduction. He is an individual who is second on the all-time list on fourth-quarter comebacks, and which culminated in his comeback drive in Super Bowl XXXII.
Because of his status and his leadership ability on the field, when he critiques quarterbacks even in today's game, people do stand up and listen, which leads us to the current Denver Broncos QB situation...
The Broncos have a very interesting and intriguing QB situation, and each and every prospect brings something to the table but also has weaknesses.
We have Tebow, the young upstart, who has skilled leadership ability on the field but who has been criticized for his throwing motion and lack of experience in a pro-style system in college.
We also have Quinn, who during his years in Cleveland did show some degree of consistency, although admittedly not much. One could argue that Cleveland gave him a raw deal, but nonetheless he is definitely still unproven.
Finally, we have Orton, who has more experience than the other two put together. He has shown a degree of consistency that neither Quinn or Tebow has, and has been exposed to a lot of situations on the field that the other two have not. He also has five years experience.
So...go with Orton as the Broncos starter. It would seem like a no-brainer, right? Think again.
While Elway acknowledged Orton's experience, he didn't exactly give him a ringing endorsement.
If Orton remains the starter, how many games do the Broncos win next year?
"Kyle has had good numbers, but we haven't won a lot of football games," Elway said during an interview with the National Post. "That's the bottom line. That's a reflection of you as a quarterback whether you want it or not."
So what does Elway's ambivalence about Orton mean for Tebow and Quinn? It means both a lot and a little. First of all, Elway's words indicate that Denver's quarterback competition is wide open.
According to Elway, Orton "has a leg up" when it comes to procuring the starting job after training camp next year, but that the job could ultimately go to even Quinn if he produces well.
"It all comes down to your success rate," Elway said. "The wins and losses."
And the wins and losses could possibly hurt Orton in the end.
Secondly, it means that Orton could wind up being traded. The fact of the matter is, Elway has to pick a benign, non-threatening way to be truthful about the QB situation so as to not hurt the potential market for Orton's services, and so the most neutral way would be to say that he hasn't won many games.
Of course, If Orton can manage to actually keep the team in the game instead of collapsing that would go a long way in Denver ultimately keeping him.
Finally, it increases the likelihood of Tebow starting next year. If Orton wins next year with a good defense behind him, he pure and simple will stay the starter. But...the minute that he starts to string together some losses, Tebow or Quinn will start. Count on it.
In conclusion, I would remind the reader that Orton can be a very vanilla quarterback, but vanilla ice cream isn't necessarily a bad thing. Good and pure vanilla ice cream certainly beats out chocolate ice cream that froze wrong in the freezer.
The fact of the matter is, Orton has seen this kind of challenge and ambivalence before, and he has played better as a result.
Call me an optimist, but a little competition is a good thing even if Orton remains the starter. Whether the QB is Orton, Tebow or Quinn, the play will be improved if they realize not to take their job for granted.