This offseason, attitudes surrounding the quarterback position among Bronco Nation seemed to mirror those of the political landscape throughout the entire nation.
Roughly 50 percent backed Kyle Orton, perhaps out of loyalty to the new administration more than anything else, an extreme faction of which proclaimed Orton the unquestionable choice, given his previous statistics...the validity of which were highly contested.
Across the aisle, others clamored for a new direction and the immediate heralding of Tim Tebow’s reign as quarterback. This side, too, contained an extreme faction, The Te(bow) Party, with unyielding devotion to Tebow alone but blind to all other factors, while moderates simply preferred Tebow’s leadership, character and will to win over that of Orton.
However, as evidenced by Monday night’s 23-20 loss to Oakland, change at quarterback cannot come fast enough. Orton proved why his detractors were skeptical, completing just 24 out of 46 passes.
There was more than enough blame to go around: dropped passes, inadequate ground attack, poor run defense, senseless penalties, and a missed long-range FG.
However, Orton appeared to shrink from opportunities to put the Broncos in a position to win (something his supporters claim he is the most capable to do), turning the ball over twice on meaningful drives, once in the red zone with the Broncos attempting to tie the score or take the lead.
Despite the most freewheeling offseason in NFL history, with several teams shopping for quarterbacks and the Broncos publicly attempting to move Orton, other teams quickly snatched up quarterback castoffs like Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, and Tarvaris Jackson, rather than saddling up with Orton and his $8.8 million salary.
The Dolphins even elected to stick with the notoriously underachieving Chad Henne rather than deal for Orton. It begs the question whether these teams realize something the Broncos don’t.
Or is there purpose behind this ploy?
Certainly, the new regime has seemed less than impressed with Tim Tebow’s ability to play the position. And despite Tebow’s zealous devotees and the resounding “TE-BOW” chants that echo around Sports Authority Field, this staff appears unmoved to usher him into any meaningful situation.
Perhaps they, like much of the league, view Tebow for what he may ultimately turn out to be: not a very good NFL quarterback.
Maybe a pair of Cardinal eyes on high have another target in sight; eyes of one who knows exactly how it feels to be the unanimous first pick in the upcoming draft, even before his final collegiate season has ended?
Many had the Bengals penciled into that top slot, but Cincy has already won more games than most predicted. Perhaps that pick will once again come via Indianapolis, possibly the only team to look worse than the Broncos, who, despite issues of their own, will likely remain invested in Peyton Manning. Who knows?
Perhaps the Broncos, with their hodgepodge of very expensive, questionably mediocre talent under center, will win the 2012 sweepstakes all on their own, be it divine providence or just sheer luck.