Denver Broncos Pressure Cooker: Was Tebow or Orton Under More?

Michael KellerAnalyst IIINovember 3, 2011

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterbacks  Tim Tebow #15 and  Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos warm up prior to facing the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Having all of the Denver Bronco/Tim Tebow fanatics and most of the rest of the NFL fanbase looking over the shoulders of both Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, which has been under the most scrutiny and which has had the most reaction to all this pressure?

As the preseason started out, new head coach John Fox said there would be an open competition for all starting positions. But almost immediately, Denver made an attempt to trade Orton to the Miami Dolphins. Ring up one major pressure point for Kyle Orton.

When that trade fell through for several reasons, the competition continued, and Orton won the starting role with his practice performance and his better knowledge of the system and his overall NFL experience. 

And how the Tebow fans howled! Their insistent demands for "Turn the Tebow Loose" was heard round the entire NFL world. Another pressure point for Mr. Orton.

Fox said several times that "Orton gave the team the best chance to win". Which put more pressure on Orton, who was looking over his shoulder every day at practice and in the games.

Meanwhile, Tebow is moving down the depth chart from backup to No. 3 behind Brady Quinn. Some even said behind practice squad QB Adam Weber). That got the national talking heads going as well, particularly Merril Hoge, who openly questioned Tebow's ability to play QB at the NFL level. 

Hoge was quoted as saying "QB play is not just about who works hard, gives rah-rah speeches, or is a good guy,” Hoge wrote. “Sitting watching tape of Broncos offense from last year. Orton or Tebow? It’s embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow.”

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 2: Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos is sacked by Desmond Bishop #55 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Broncos 47-23. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Scott Boehm/Getty Images


Hoge also criticized the throwing motion and accuracy of the former Nease High and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.

“I just watched Tebow throw five out routes to a wide-open receiver,” Hoge wrote. “He was 1 for 5! Two went in dirt, two in stands. ... College credentials do not transfer to NFL. ... You must possess a skill set to play. Tebow struggles with accuracy!” Some pressure began to build on Tebow even though many people came to his defense and said he should be the starter.

As the games were played and the Broncos were losing and Orton's play diminished, the howls for Tebow increased. Even to the point where Florida Tebow fanatics put up a billboard calling for Orton's head. More pressure on Orton. Driving to work and seeing the billboards, hearing many sports radio talking heads and at least one prominent Denver Post sports writer screaming for letting Tebow show his stuff made national news.

The pressure mounted on Orton until he began to implode the last several games of his starting tenure. Add into this becoming a father for the first time, and you have some major pressure on your head.

Then, the fateful day arrived. HC John Fox announced that after Orton's last lousy game (and another Denver loss) against Green Bay 49-23 and a bad first half against San Diego, Tim Tebow started the second half of that game and started to bring the Broncos back, still losing 29-24. Orton was out and Tebow was finally in.

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos prays before a game against the Detroit Lions at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images


The first staring role for Tebow was in Miami, but was more of a home game for him, as the Gator 2008 national championship team was honored at half time. There were more blue No. 15 jerseys in the stands than any combined Dolphin shirt.

Tebow played some seriously bad football for the first 55 minutes of that game, but a fumble recovery and a recovered onside kick brought the Broncos back to a 18-15 win against the winless Dolphins. His last five minutes were all that people seemed to remember, and a new star was born in Denver. Finally, all those Tebow fans were proven right and all was right in Tebow-land.

And the newest craze, Tebowing, was born! It went viral on YouTube, and the future was looking so bright for TT that he had to wear shades. But the pressure was also mounting to not play the beginning of his next game like he did his last one.

Then, last week with his home game debut, Mr. Tebow was trotted out as the next coming of John Elway, the guy who could perform late game heroics, no matter how bad things looked.

But as the game started, all the issues that many people said were not allowing Tebow to be a true NFL QB came home to roost. He fumbled, threw a 100-yard pick six and was sacked six times, often caused by his lack of quick reads and his s  l  o  w windup and delivery.

As that game wore on, all the confidence we had seen in him his whole career vanished until by the end of the game (they had lost to the Lions by a score of 45-10), he looked beaten worse than a rented mule.


And the pressure built to a dangerous point as both the national and the local media turned on him, many asking for another QB change. And Fox's lack of a commitment to his starting Tebow the next week immediately after the game added to the pressure.

But Fox came out on Monday and said Tebow was his guy...for at least the next week. Pressure is still there on Tim and continues to build. Now going into the Black Hole in Oakland on Sunday and expected to perform at an NFL QB level, the intensity is rising to a fever pitch. Tebow pressure, anyone?

So, up until now, who do you think has been under the most pressure so far this season?