Let's get something straight right away: I am no huge fan of Tim Tebow.
Frankly, I think the billboard-sponsoring, pie-eyed faithful who blindly support the Heisman Trophy winner are pretty tiresome. If there were ostensible reason to believe in Tebow, I could understand the feverish pitch with which some in Denver call for him, but it's not like he's set the world afire since graduating to the NFL.
His resume boasts a single win—ONE—in three starts and that was in Week 16 of 2010. That's nothing against the kid, I'm just saying there doesn't seem to be much objective evidence to justify such rabid animosity for starting quarterback Kyle Orton.
Nevertheless, there comes a time when you make a change for change's sake.
Orton may be a perfectly beautiful human being, but he's in an untenable situation. The only fair thing for everyone involved was to pull him sooner against the Bolts and give the former Florida Gator's wheels a good kick.
The most obvious reason to pull Orton sooner was the fact that the former Purdue Boilermaker was in a no-win situation.
Even prior to the game against San Diego, Orton had to be basically flawless to keep the Tebow wolves at bay, and even that may not have been enough given the near-religious fervor with which they follow their guy.
However, Orton doesn't have the necessary tools to get that job done—not personally nor from a personnel standpoint. He's been form-fitted for the scapegoat suit, so the sooner head coach John Fox made him wear it, the better for him.
Just get it over with.
Oh, if John Elway only knew what was about to unfold.
Let's not pretend Orton was totally blameless in this very public breakup.
I had the misfortune of closely watching the first 30 minutes of football from Denver and...wow.
Kyle Orton was bad; he was very, very bad.
It wasn't totally his fault because the Chargers were playing some nice defense for the most part, but there were windows to be exploited by the Broncos QB, and he slammed them right shut with errant or late throws.
Additionally, there was the interception he threw from the near-embrace of San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips. I'm no NFL expert, but even I know you can't even think about making that throw, let alone actually pull the trigger on it.
Orton did his part to earn an early benching as well.
Despite Orton's awful first-half play, the Broncos had a shot to go into halftime facing only a six-point deficit until a last-minute touchdown to Charger wide receiver Malcom Floyd stretched the lead to a much more depressing 13.
In truth, however, San Diego dominated the opening 30 minutes.
Running back Ryan Mathews was walking all over the Denver D and quarterback Philip Rivers wasn't exactly facing stiff resistance in the passing game. On top of this, the Broncos offense was woeful outside of an excellent day being enjoyed by running back Willis McGahee.
If not for a Rivers pick-six, the home team would've been getting annihilated.
Coach Fox should've taken advantage of that close(r) score because...
Let's be fair here. As a general rule, it's easier to move the ball in a blowout. Defensive concentration lapses here and there, the coverage schemes ease up as time becomes a more significant factor than yardage allowed and there's no offensive let up.
So, getting Tim Tebow under center in a, say, 13-10 game is infinitely better than getting him in there facing a 23-10 mountain to climb. Under certain circumstances, a 13-point deficit isn't a deal-breaker, but given the way the Chargers were moving the ball and the difficulty with which the Broncos were doing the same, that lead might as well have been double.
In that context, it's tough to know exactly what to make of the rally orchestrated by Tebow.
It's impressive to be sure and more than enough to justify giving him the start after Denver's upcoming bye, but there's also reason to believe it might be more fool's gold.
Further complicating the assessment of Tebow's exploits against the Chargers is the fact that he only had one half with which to work.
Consider that Denver trailed 13-10 with the ball and 7:19 remaining in the second quarter. Orton's day had already been ugly enough to validate a QB change—it's not like it got much worse in those final seven minutes and change of the half before the change did come—and there was plenty of time left in the quarter along with an entire half to go.
Yet Fox stuck with his starter.
The Broncos went three-and-out, San Diego ate up some time before kicking a field goal to make it 16-10, the Broncos went three-and-out again and Rivers connected with Floyd for the touchdown.
Kickoff, kneel, gun and it was halftime.
Not only could Fox have given Tebow more time to work his "magic," but he also could've gotten him into fresher, more hostile environment. Sooner or later, that's what Tebow will have to face and excel in so then was as good a time as any.
Instead, the golden boy got only a half to rally his team from a sizable deficit against a defense that had already played 24 minutes. Tebow was fresh as a daisy while his opponents had already used a substantial amount of their reserves.
Granted, that's a small advantage, but every little bit counts in the NFL.
Hey, anything's possible.
I'm obviously in the skeptics' camp when it comes to Tebow, but I'd be a fool to argue there's no chance the youngster succeeds.
It's as possible as not that all that intangible nonsense is for real, that the dude can will his teams to victory, even if it will never look pretty.
In "spearheading" the second-half charge back into contention, Tim Tebow posted the following glorious stat line: 4-of-10 for 79 yards and a touchdown while rushing six times for 38 yards and another touchdown.
The fine print reveals that his passing touchdown came on a short screen pass that running back Knowshown Moreno turned into a 28-yard scamper for six. So, that's more than a third of his total yardage on a play where most of the credit should land in Moreno's lap. Tebow also bobbled a snap, missed some open receivers and generally looked as advertised.
Yet the Denver crowd left chanting his name.
You can say his teammates respond to him. You can say that he led scoring drives and that's more than Orton was doing. You can say he's a winner and that's all that matters. And you wouldn't necessarily be wrong.
To date, most of the praise for Tebow is on the intangible front because the results haven't been all that amazing. However, the NFL is a results-oriented business; that intangibles line gets old after too many tangible failures.
Sadly, though, that's what it's gonna take for any other QB in a Bronco uniform to get a fair shot.
Until Tim Tebow proves to the Denver fans that he is not the man for the job, the fans are going to continue to carry on as if he is the man for the job and make life miserable for anyone else.
That's an unpleasant bed for the Broncos to lie in considering Tebow's apparent vulnerabilities, but it's the one they've got so might as well assume the position rather than prolong the misery.