Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Kyle Orton begins the season with a ranking of 27th in QB rating. 
Time for Tebow?


The chants rang out among the Sports Authority Stadium crowd Sunday night as the Broncos, down three points to the Oakland Raiders, began mounting a comeback on a wet, soggy night.  First and ten at the Oakland 24-yard line, Kyle Orton makes a strong play fake to Knowshon Moreno and looks across the line to see Tight End Daniel Fells breaking open across the center of the field.  Orton goes to throw and.....the ball falls out of his hands.  Almost as if in slow motion, Orton, already fading toward his blind side, attempts to reverse his course and fall against his weight for the ball.  He's too late, as Oakland's Lamarr Houston finds the football first.  Game-changing turnover, Denver never recovers and loses to Oakland.

Since the first Sunday ended, and maybe even before, the Denver faithful have been firing away at Orton.

Is it time for Tim Tebow? 

No.  Absolutely not.

Let's examine Kyle Orton's body of work as a quarterback in the NFL before we toss him out the window for a guy who has started all of three NFL games.

This isn't baseball, so wins isn't a category most people examine when looking at QB play.  However, if the quarterback is going to be assessed with full blame for a team's loss, then we should consider lauding the QB with the accolades when a team wins.

In Chicago, Kyle Orton was 21-12, completed 55% of his passes, threw for 30 TDs vs. 27 INTs. and averaged 211 yards per game throwing, and a QB rating of 71.  Not exactly great numbers, but there was no doubt that he made the team stronger than Rex Grossman did at the time.  Yet, Kyle Orton was run out of Chicago for Jay Cutler.

Transition to Denver, where Orton has posted an 11-17 record, while improving on all of his numbers, 277 yards per game, 42 TDs vs. 22 INTs, a 60% completion rate, and average of an 87 rating.  So why has the number of wins declined?  Is that based on Orton's play?
In 2008, Jay Cutler's Denver offense was ranked third in passing and second overall in yards in the final year of Mike Shanahan's tenure.  They ranked 16th in offensive points scored, but 30th in defense.

In 2009, Kyle Orton's first year in Denver as well as Josh McDaniels', the offense was the 13th rated passing offense in terms of yards.  They were 20th overall in points.  The defense improved to seventh overall in yards and 12th in points.  For the second straight year they finished 8-8.

In 2010, the Broncos passing attack ranked seventh in yards, 19th overall in points while their defense fell to 32nd overall, worst in the league.
In the same three years, Denver's rushing offense declined from 12th in yards in '08, to 18th in '09 to 26th in 2010.

The numbers seem to support that while Kyle Orton is not the kind of gunslinger Jay Cutler is, but he's improved as a quarterback overall, while dealing with a declining running game and a faltering defense.  Not only that, but the team lost Brandon Marshall, by far its best receiver during this time, and replaced him with the once afterthought Brandon Lloyd.  With Orton under center, Lloyd led all NFL receivers in yards in 2011. 

Let's repeat that.  He led ALL NFL RECEIVERS in yardage last year: more than Roddy White, more than Greg Jennings, more than Reggie Wayne.  And those guys had the likes of Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning throwing the rock to them.

With all of this going on, the Denver faithful have promptly taken the stance that Kyle Orton is the reason the Broncos continue to play average to bad football, and the solution to their woes comes in the form of the kindly, hard-working Tim Tebow.  Is the fan base actually so sure of Tebow bringing redemption that they're willing to spit in the face of all the training camp preparations, all the scouting reports and their new coach John Fox to get what might be a more entertaining, though vastly unprepared Tim Tebow under center? 

Tim Tebow deserves a chance to earn his shot at the starting job, but only once he can genuinely lead this team as a quarterback.  By all accounts, he has the leadership skills but he's just not there yet in football skills, and it would behoove the Denver fans to realize this, support his growth, and stand behind the one guy who is giving it his all for them now. 

And that quarterback is Kyle Orton.  He's earned it.