Much has been made about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s chances of succeeding—or falling flat on his face—at the NFL level. In an article earlier this month, I argued that Denver’s management unveiled a specific plan for championship rebuilding in April’s draft, a plan that includes QB nightmares Von Miller and Champ Bailey but ultimately starts with an elite signal caller under center. Whether your money is on Tebow failing or prevailing in an effort to be that guy, there is one undeniable fact about the second-year quarterback: the kid is a winner.
Now, winning is by no means a selling point unique to Tebow. In fact, Broncos fans might recall another potential face of the franchise to grace Dove Valley in recent years, carrying with him a playbook and a proverbial sign hung around his neck reading, “Has won at every level.” The mere thought of him makes you cringe, doesn’t it?
Actually, trick question. The face of the franchise/ supposed winner depiction could apply to either Tebow’s competition for starting quarterback or to the man who drafted Tebow. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, the results have been debatable with Kyle Orton and disastrous with Josh McDaniels, two figures with serious questions coming in yet heralded by some analysts nonetheless for their tendency to “just win.”
Let’s start with Orton. You know, in some ways I feel bad for the guy. He was benched in favor of Rex Grossman amidst Chicago’s 2006 Super Bowl run, then had his legacy forever tied to Jay Cutler as a throw-in with McDaniels’s blockbuster trade prior to the 2009 season. Despite enjoying the best statistical seasons of his career in Denver (3,652 passing yards and 21 touchdowns in thirteen starts in 2010) and ridding himself of labels like “career backup” and “game manager,” Orton has drawn plenty of other criticisms along the way: failing in the redzone, in the fourth quarter, and on third down; arm strength; durability issues; immobility in the pocket.
Above all, his reputation as a “winner” has been cast in doubt. Orton went from holding a solid 21-12 win-loss record in Chicago to going an abysmal 11-18 in Denver – a curious drop off that is even more perplexing when you consider how much Orton seemingly improved under McDaniels…perplexing, that is, if you buy into the myth of the winner. Somehow all that winning experience in Chicago just didn’t translate.