Friday, February 25, 2011

Orton to start over Tebow in 2011


Denver Broncos head coach, John Fox, says it will be Kyle Orton under center for the Broncos in 2011, passing on the young second year prodigy from the University of Florida, Tim Tebow.  Many Bronco(and UF) fans have clamored for Tebow to be Denver's future at QB, but Fox is not so fast to jump on that wagon.

"I don't think we'll really figure it out until we start competing," Fox said. "It's a group of three that are very capable. Right now Kyle Orton is our starter. We have a young guy, high draft pick, in Tim Tebow who got his feet wet last year toward the end of the season. And then, shoot, Brady Quinn I'm looking forward to seeing."

Kyle Orton signed an extension to his contract through the end of the 2011 season, back in training camp last season.  Tebow was Denver's first pick last season, a pick that former head coach, Josh McDaniels traded three draft picks to acquire.

When Fox made the announcement, a reporter was quick to ask if Fox was possibly just trying to enhance Orton's trade value by naming him the starter this early in the year and then turn the team over to it's nationally popular NFL sophomore, Tebow.  Fox was quick to shoot down that theory.

"I think it would be pretty hard to be both(Orton being Denver's starter and also trade bait)," Fox said. "As far as I'm concerned, he's under contract and he's our starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos."


This is mostly a non-committal answer to who will ultimately be under center in Denver this upcoming season, but Fox wanted to make it clear to fans early, before even the draft, that Orton is on the top of his depth chart.  For all intensive purposes, Fox has made the right call here.  Orton is a five year veteran who had a fantastic season in 2010, throwing for 3,653 yards with 20 TD's and nine INT's in only 13 starts.  He added a nearly 60% completion percentage, making him one of the NFL's most accurate passers.  He only won three games last year as a starter, but blame that mostly on a terrible offensive line, a lack of running game and a defense that couldn't stop much of anyone in 2010.

Orton sported an 85.7 QB rating in 2010 with 20 TD's and 9 INT's

Tebow, who made three starts in 2010, looked semi-heroic at times, marvelously turning broken down passing plays into hard hitting runs and made a home passing mostly outside of the pocket as his in-pocket throwing is still in need of tutelage.  His passing efforts were mediocre to an NFL QB standard, but not bad at 654 yards, 5 TD's and three INT's in those three starts.  He did finish with a paltry 50% completion percentage, but he is still learning on the job how to be an NFL QB.

Tim Tebow made a splash in relief of Orton, but has a lot to learn before becoming a full-time starter in the NFL

And it's best he spends more time doing that learning on the bench behind Orton if the Broncos want to maximize Tebow's potential as a QB and justify his 1st round draft status, which I still believe will end up being far too high for this former Heisman winner after his pro career is written.  For a team that was so awful last year and has a new leader in veteran head coach John Fox, the Broncos will need to have consistency and stability at the most important position on the team; quarterback.

For those who still believe that this is a play to increase the trade value of Orton, they are mistaken.  Everyone in the league knows the body of work for Kyle Orton and no announcement in February of him being the starter for Denver in 2011 is going to make other teams want him more.  Denver would have to exercise a value-packed trade that included high future draft picks to send their best QB to another team and hand the reigns to a sophomore QB who has three starts in his career and backed up by another young QB who has only a handful of starts himself(Brady Quinn).

This decision is moot at this point with no labor contract in place for the 2011 NFL season.  The longer negotiations go into the summer, it becomes even less likely Orton will be moved or Tebow will start as teams will have a very short time to prepare for the season if the NFL lockout resumes through September as it has been predicted.  That wouldn't give the Broncos enough time to get the young Tebow up to speed on John Fox's offense.  Orton will pick it up faster as he has experience learning new playbooks in the NFL already playing for a number of different coordinators in his career.

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