Eric Mergens is one of Predominantly Orange’s newest staff writers. He brings enthusiasm, a great knowledge base, and unwavering fandom to the PO team. Below is his sample piece. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think. Welcome to PO, Eric!
Since calling it a career after winning Super Bowl XXXIII following the 1998 season, John Elway has left a quarterback shaped hole in the collective hearts of Denver Broncos fans. Every few years, a new player would be drafted, brought in through free agency, or traded for, and every few years Broncos fans would loudly clamor, “Is this guy the next John Elway?!?”
Is Brian Griese the next John Elway? He just couldn’t stay healthy for long enough.
Jake Plummer? His flashes of brilliance were dulled by erratic decision making and a middle finger that didn’t exactly woo the Mile High faithful.
Jay Cutler? He couldn’t leave Denver quickly enough after demanding a trade.
Kyle Orton? Serviceable, but crumbled under the pressure of having entire stadiums chant the name of a polarizing first-round draft pick sitting on the Broncos sideline.
That brings us to that 25th-overall pick in the 2010 draft, Tim Tebow.
After captivating the entire country with his penchant for leading the Broncos to the most improbable of comebacks, Tebow finished the 2011 following a divisional-round playoff loss to the New England Patriots not knowing his status as the Broncos starter moving forward. Current Executive Vice President of Football Operations and aforementioned John Elway ended that speculation quickly during the Broncos’ end of season press conference.
“I think Tim has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year,” Elway said. “Anytime you can get a franchise guy and a quarterback that can be your guy for ten to twelve years, that’s what you want as an organization. We’re hopeful that Tim’s that guy.”
Critics of this decision will continue to point with indictment to Tebow’s accuracy as a passer as though that was the only mark of a successful quarterback. Denver Broncos fans hold Elway in the highest regard as a quarterback, but forget that his accuracy was never anywhere close to the elite level that we see today in the likes of Drew Brees (65.9% completion rate), Aaron Rodgers (65.4%), and Tom Brady (63.8%). Elway’s career completion rate? 56.9%! It was always easy to overlook the fact that Elway’s accuracy is more on par with Plummer (57.1%) because he excelled in the most important category by which fans measure: wins.For a better understanding of how Tebow and Elway compare, let’s breakdown the first sixteen games of both players’ professional careers:
Elway: 158 completions in 325 attempts (48.6%) for 2,094 yards with 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Tebow: 181 completions in 389 attempts (46.5%) for 2,753 yards with 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Beyond pure statistics, analysts love to talk about quarterback intangibles. What made Elway so special was his intangibles and the knack for finding a way to win. Elway led 47 fourth quarter/ overtime game-winning game-tying drives in his career. He won games. That is what endeared him to Denver Broncos fans forever. Tebow has engineered 7 in just one season of playing time and that has been the catalyst for the national excitement he has generated with his quarterback play. His ability to sniff out victory will be what defines Tebow’s career with the Broncos, not his accuracy as a passer.
As one of the most memorable seasons for Broncos fans came to a close, we were left to wonder yet again, “is this guy the next John Elway?” We shouldn’t overlook that the answer came straight from the horse’s mouth.
By Eric Mergens