Denver Broncos: Front Office and Fans Moving Farther Apart on Tim Tebow

Jason Muckley@@jamuckleySenior Analyst IISeptember 14, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos stands with teammates in the huddle during the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 26-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos front office has been paying the Broncos fans lip-service since they started the highly-paid, highly-drafted prospect Tim Tebow in Week 15 of 2010 against the Oakland Raiders.

The team at that point was hopelessly 3-10, had finally fired their coaching disaster, Josh McDaniels, and the cries for somebody else, anybody else at the quarterback position had become too loud to contain.

Fans chanting for Tim Tebow, the franchise quarterback of the future, resounded and finally won out when interim head coach Eric Studesville, coming off a shellacking by a lackluster Arizona Cardinals team, couldn't resist and inserted Tebow into the lineup as the starting quarterback.

The reason for the dismal 10 losses with Kyle Orton under center wasn't his lack of production. He threw for 3653 yards, 20 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a 58.8 completion percentage in the first 13 games of 2010.

When it comes to scoring, moving the chains on third down, and making it happen when it really counts, the comparison between Orton and Tebow is surprisingly very similar. AFC West blogger from, Bill Williamson presented some ESPN Stats & Information details in early August, comparing the two in their stats last season.

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos scrambles with the football during the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Card
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Some key stats to consider:


Category Tim Tebow   Kyle Orton  
Points/10 Drives 17.4 16.8
Percent of TD Drives        20.5 19.1
Percent of FG Drives 10.3 11.5
Scoring Percentage 30.8 30.6

On Third Down:

Category Tim Tebow   Kyle Orton  
Pass Attempts 37 170
Pass First Downs 12 55
Rush Attempts 10 10
Rush First Downs   4 7
Conversion Percentage    34 34.4
Yards Per Rush 10.2 5.3

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback  Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos runs the offense behind center J.D. Walton #50 of the Denver Broncos against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Red Zone:

Category Tim Tebow   Kyle Orton  
Completion Percentage   30.0 43.5
TD-INT Ratio 3-1 13-0
Sacks 1 2
Rush 8 1
Rushing Touchdowns 5 0

On third down, their conversion percentages were nearly identical. In the red zone, each averaged a passing touchdown per game. Tebow has the advantage of rushing touchdowns in the red zone, as the Broncos used him in various situations out of the Wild Horses formation to score on stretch plays, beating defenders to the spot on outside rushes. In scoring, Tebow had a slight edge over Orton as more of his drives ended in touchdowns compared to field goals.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 27: Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway for the Denver Broncos watches the preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 27, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

When you look at these stats, it is hard to see why the Broncos front office and coaching staff have resisted deferring to Tebow as their starting quarterback.

The greatest difference between Tebow and Orton is not statistics.

It is the part of the game, which one cannot define with metrics or measures.

It is the attitude, the leadership qualities, the intangibles that won Tebow two national championships in college at the University of Florida and the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore—the only sophomore to ever earn that honor. Some called Tebow the greatest college football player ever. He is also regarded as one of the greatest leaders in all of college football history.

The Broncos front office won't have any of it.

Former Broncos great John Elway, now the chief of football operations at Dove Valley, believes that a franchise quarterback for the Broncos is one of the team's greatest needs. In a season preview put together by the Denver Post, he made remarks about what he is looking for in a quarterback:

Far and away the most important position. You need the guy to win you a championship from the pocket, to be a leader, to make it go. And you're looking for the athlete at the position who can operate from the pocket and get out when he needs to.

Tebow isn't a pocket passer. He doesn't have the immense arm strength Elway possessed as a Bronco. He improvises and finds ways to get it done.

He doesn't fit the mold Elway forged in his illustrious career.

On a season-opening Monday night, Orton took a long time to get the offense going. He looked shaky and uncertain. The pressure of the Raiders defensive front harassed him constantly and by the third quarter, it looked like they had gotten to him. He lost the grip of the football in the soggy conditions and the Raiders scooped it up.

The Raiders capitalized on the miscue by scoring moments later on two huge plays.

It was demoralizing.

Orton showed some determination and grit when he finally propelled the Broncos offense into the end zone late in the fourth quarter. But it proved to be too little, too late.

Too little, too late appears to be the book on Orton during his time in Denver. As Orton starts his third season as quarterback for the Broncos, his lack of production in the win column is wearing on fans.

The Broncos' new head coach has dodged the questions about why Tebow didn't see the field against the Raiders and why Tebow can't get a shot at quarterback. 

Orton remains the starter next week against a run-heavy Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. If Orton cannot guide the Broncos to victory against a fellow bottom-feeder like the Bengals, the pressure to make a change will soar through the roof.

If the losses pile up and no changes are made, EFX (John Elway-John Fox-Brian Xanders) will face some serious repercussions from angry season ticket holders, boycotting games, reversing a home-field advantage against the Broncos team.

Even fellow Broncos players like pro-bowl wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who has been an outspoken supporter of Orton, attacked Tebow fans in the media for booing Orton and chanting for Tebow, will likely face some backlash by paying customers.

Everything is coming to a head as the pressure mounts to make a decision about Tebow. 

Fox needs to either start Tebow over Orton and see what happens, or the front office needs to trade him away and promise fans that they can make something happen next season at quarterback to make them forget about Tebow's stay in Denver.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is well aware of the situation he is in right now, and enraging the people who pay the bills is the last thing he wants to do. 


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