Denver Broncos: The Great Divide Leaves Fans, Tebow, Orton Hanging a Mile High

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IAugust 3, 2011

Kyle Orton is sour he can't be a clear cut starter as Tim Tebow presses to become relevant in the NFL.
Kyle Orton is sour he can't be a clear cut starter as Tim Tebow presses to become relevant in the NFL.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

A Walk across the Great Divide – A Short Primer

The Continental Divide is located just west of Denver, Colorado it’s actually also known as the Great Divide or more formally as the Continental Gulf of Division.  It actually starts up in Alaska, through Canada, and cuts through four US States and extends into Mexico.  It is known as the watershed where theoretically any moisture from rain or snow falling on one side of the divide flows out to the Atlantic Ocean, while moisture on the other side makes its way into the Pacific Ocean.

So perhaps it’s small coincidence that The Divide has its mid-point near the northern Colorado front-range where Denver, CO is located.  Back in the 1970’s, shortly after the Vietnam War and as a sign of strength to communist Russia and the rest of the world US troops actually walked The Great Divide. 

Some General in the US Army had a wild hair (most likely for political ambitions) to send a large group of American Troops on a bit of a mystery tour – you see it had no real purpose – but someone thought it was a brilliant idea.  No doubt, as is often the case, men who make these decisions generally don’t put themselves on the line for such lofty plans, and this General and his team did not.  Although I did have a personal observation of noticing they would drive from site to site to check on the progress of the troops. 

As for the troops they walked, and they walked, and countless GI’s got sick, most from dehydration, altitude sickness, drinking un-sterilized water, or a combination.  The only real purpose the exercise served was to see how long it would take to get a high percentage of GI’s sick, on the move, through various altitude changes.  My father was a sergeant in the army at the time and hated every step of this bogus plan even though he was a great outdoorsman.  My father had no doubt that he faired far better than most because of his outdoor survival skills, yet he was deeply disappointed in the lack of real leadership displayed by those in power.  It was very similar to what has been observing in Washington of late over the National Debt Crisis.



Reasoning Out the Broncos Great Divide

Much in the way the US Army General’s were wrong in their execution of the march across the Continental Divide, so was the Josh McDaniels regime in Colorado.  While it may have been short lived, there was great damage done and it stemmed from the worst decision making possible. 

The fallout from the US Army’s walk across the Great Divide is that over 70% of the troops who started the journey did not make it to the midway point.  With those sorts of numbers, it was obvious that only a select few would complete the mission if any at all, so the General had to bury his pride and call off the failed mission.  Certainly it was one that left a mark, but it never has been proven that the troops were better or stronger for the wear.

So it is with the Denver Broncos following Josh McDaniels regime.  This long and worthless journey following the Mike Shanahan era proved itself out as being a false hope at best and something that will take time to fix the franchise.  However having said that much, Broncos fans should at least be excited to see the off season moves to steer things back in the right direction – the Broncos will contend again sooner than later.

The problem in the mix is that there is a clear division as clear as the runoff on both sides of the Continental Divide.  One side favors the pursuit of winning now with the most capable quarterback – that being Kyle Orton.  The other-side of fandom favors the pipe-dream, and the hope on a wing and a prayer that Tim Tebow displayed in college.  The Broncos jeep got stuck in the mud on this mission when Kyle Orton decided that he did not want to take less money to pursue a better option with the Miami Dolphins.  The Broncos believed they were going to rid themselves of their biggest problem only to have it blow-up on them with a straight bluff call by Orton and his agent.



So now you got what we have right here, which is the way Orton wants it, well he gets it – and the Broncos nation has once again reverted to division and controversy over the franchise quarterback position.  The irony here is that more than likely as soon as next season the Broncos may rid themselves of both quarterbacks and at least one of them prior to the end of this season.

With all this controversy, the question will be:  “Is the franchise any better for the wear?”

From the eyes of the fans, it’s doubtful, and fans of the team are the ones who suffered through the McDaniels era.  Those same fans now suffer through this hang-over from a Josh McDaniels concoction – an unwarranted quarterback controversy that still lacks a competent leader that fans can rally around as their number one QB.

Cerebral thought leads one to believe the Broncos already know they don’t have their future quarterback on hand, so making deals; any deal to rid the franchise of this problem is at least a good start.  There are names out there and there will be more to come in the weeks ahead, but if Tim Tebow just proves that he can’t rise up in practice to take the head job, that’s really all Broncos fans need to know – it’s time to move on.

Squarely the real heat this pre-season is on Kyle Orton to prove that he can rise above to retain a starting position in the NFL – let alone with the Broncos.  Kyle Orton is a little bit like Craig Morton was minus the big arm back with the Orange Crush.  Tebow is a little bit like Norris Weese (Morton’s backup) on more serious workouts, on Bible, and on pace to be short lived as an NFL starter.



You see the Mile High city has seen a similar short-lived controversy that historically speaking should be known as the Mild Divide.  There were fans in both camps, but Morton’s lack of mobility made him a target, and Weese’s lack of a big gun for an arm essentially left things where they were, especially when Weese proved in time that he could not be the Broncos starter. 

With Orton and Tebow it’s similar, but the differences are as big as The Great Divide itself.  Tebow has a nation of Gators pulling for him, and a nation of some Christians (not all) pulling for him to show the rest of the population “The Light”.  Sure Tebow is mobile but he lacks touch in his throws and technique in his throwing motion.  Additionally it makes it slightly harder to see how well he is or isn’t reading defenses.  The latest report today on twitter by Merril Hoge is that he hit on one of five out routes to open receivers.  Orton by all accounts continues to be a smooth practice player, capable of racking up great fantasy stats, but still the same old Kyle Orton.

It seems there is a divide without a doubt and it’s obvious who the better quarterback is right now, but none of this really answers who the starter will eventually be in Denver – no thanks to the dumb decision making of Josh McDaniels.  The fact is Tebow should not be in Denver, but he is so you have to see what you can potentially get out of him given the investment the franchise has been forced to pay for a marketing darling who might never be a full-time starter in the NFL at any position.



So there is a divide in the way the past has lead the Broncos faithful to this point.  More than likely Kyle Orton is not the guy and may be dealt by mid-season.  Tim Tebow might have a few starts before the mid-way point to show us all again that he still isn’t ready to be the starter.  Brady Quinn sits silently by but in all likelihood he might also prove he’s also not the guy for the Broncos, then like the US Army troops they fall victim to the illness of a journey conjured up by a now fallen field general Josh McDaniels.

At the end of the day the Broncos should seek the best value they can get on any or all of these quarterbacks, because to date there is nothing the Orange and Blue faithful can rally around.  Rather than making this Great Divide greater and wider and deeper, it might just be time to cut the losses.  Even the unwise army general knew when to call it quits just a little over half-way on a pipe-dream journey. 

By the mid-point on this season the Denver Broncos should have enough information to run with and act upon.  As I found out personally and early on in life – the measure of a man isn’t whether or not he can scale lofty mountain tops and avoid altitude sickness. 

The Broncos are clearly re-building but do have good talent in camp.  However the measure the franchise uses shouldn’t be can the guy behind center rack up stats or marketing dollars.  The fact is the real measure will be seen when the Broncos once again reach the playoffs and have a reliable steward at the helm behind center. 

The largest problem the Denver Broncos face right now is masked by the Great Divide and how they choose to resolve it for the betterment of the franchise and their fans.


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