Is the controversy in Denver really a QB controversy between Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow?—Or has it spiraled out of control to become a controversy between John Fox (and to a degree the front office) and the Broncos fans?
During the John Elway period in Denver the fans of the Denver Broncos were blessed (yes I said it) to have a long and emotional relationship with John Elway, and they loved him through the highs and lows.
There was a lot of controversy around Elway when he came into the league. Elway was a young man of his own mind, with a strong sense of his own worth. The fans loved it, because they could relate to a player with emotions, a player who didn't always behave rationally.
I hope the stats fanatics won't kill me—but I think its fair to say that Elway's start in Denver was less than stellar and he had plenty of controversies with Dan Reeves. But Elway had the emotional connection to the fans.
Fast forward to today.
In spite of putting up great numbers in Josh McDaniels' pass-happy offense, Kyle Orton never really seemed to catch on with the Broncos fans. Orton is an effective passer who stays calm and rarely show emotions. He comes across as a player who goes to work, does a professional job and is everything a coach could ask for in practice. However Orton seems to struggle when asked to win games for his team.
Enter Tim Tebow. For a lot of other reasons than Elway, Tebow also evokes strong emotions from the fans. In fact you could say that Tebow's game is all about emotions. In fact, Tebow's emotional appeal is so great, that it goes far beyond Denver.
Is the controversy in Denver now between John Fox and the fans ?
Tebow's work ethic is famous, but he has always seemed to struggle in practice (at least according to his old coach at Florida, Urban Meyer). However, Tebow uses his emotions to take his game to another level. His biggest asset is his ability as a leader and a playmaker when the game is on the line. Tebow has a huge fan base and has made a lot of new Bronco fans.
John Fox doesn't come across as an emotional guy. In interviews he talks about facts and working methodically to improve. He loves practice and his football philosophy is all about control. Controlling the clock, controlling the ball, not taking risks, not taking chances.
John Fox and Kyle Orton must have been on the same page from the start, as Kyle Orton is all about practice, control and game management.
On the other hand John Fox must think that Tim Tebow is from another planet. Tebow doesn't practice well, he takes chances and is at his best when allowed to improvise.
So with an old fan base with John Elway as the biggest icon, and a new fan base enamored with Tebow, will John Fox and his rational football philosophy ever match the Broncos fans? Will John Fox ever understand that even if Kyle Orton does a pretty good job, it will never be enough? And will John Fox, just like Kyle Orton, ever be loved by the Broncos fans?
Looking in from the outside it just seems like John Fox and many of the Broncos fans, will never speak the same language. Now of course winning could make the controversy go away for a while. But in reality John Fox might be as much in transit as Kyle Orton.