(Englewood,CO) Technically it’s still spring but preparation for the fall was well underway for the Denver Broncos last weekend. The Broncos concluded their final mini-camp of the off-season on Sunday, the last team practice before training camp in July. Since the disappointing ending to the 2009 season the Broncos have created a situation that has drawn the attention of football enthusiast across the nation. Although many on the outside would view it as a problem all would consider it a good problem.
After the controversial trade that sent quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago for Kyle Orton, the Broncos have added two more quarterbacks to the mix since the end of last season. The problem is that Orton’s performance far surpassed that of Jay Cutler in Chicago and Orton has a relatively stellar record. The two new quarterbacks, Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow, are both first round draft picks which is indicative of the caliber of a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Orton has never drawn the respect reflective of the numbers he has put up. Tebow, who has the number one selling jersey in the nation, is the fan popular pick despite the critics slamming of his abilities. Quinn spent his formative years in Cleveland which was not exactly a breeding ground for quarterback development. So the choice is a no-brainer for second year Head Coach Josh McDaniels, but one cannot help but wonder how short the leash will be for Orton, who, by the way, spent his formative years in the NFL on a short leash.
“Kyle Orton is the starter. There’s no doubt,” said McDaniels said. “There’s nothing to be resolved, really. We’ve got a guy who’s going to go into camp as the starter, no question about it. He deserves it and if somebody comes in there and plays better than he does, then that player will play.”
Last season the Broncos got off to a phenomenal start, given the complexity of their situation, winning the first six games on the schedule going into their bye week. They lost their next four games after the bye and the final four games of the season. Late season breakdowns have become the trademark for the Broncos over the last few seasons, and is the issue that must be fixed for the Broncos to return to the playoffs.
With three highly competitive quarterbacks and two athletic backups in Quinn and Tebow, McDaniels may figure a way to incorporate the talent of all three QB’s.
“If we felt like that was something that we could do well, if it was something that our guys could actually function in and it’d help us win games, we might try it,” McDaniels said. “We doodled around with it a little bit here. There are no guarantees or no plans to play multiple people unless it’s the right thing to do. At this point, until we get in pads and see how that all sorts out, I don’t think you can really (do that).”
In the meantime the trio had a productive mini-camp and shared the practice field harmoniously over the weekend. “Those are two great guys, two great players,” said Tim Tebow of Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. “They do a great job everyday coming out running the offense, helping me and teaching me. We’ve got a great relationship. We push each other and those guys teach me as well.”
The projected depth chart at the quarterback is expected to be Kyle Orton starting, Brady Quinn the backup and Tim Tebow third string barring any collapse during training camp and the preseason games. Orton however did not have a great preseason with the Broncos in his first season, throwing three interceptions in his first outing and drawing boo’s from the Invesco crowd in his first appearance there. But when it counted Orton came out guns blazing to post the Broncos outstanding 6-0 start. The question then becomes at what point when the Broncos start to lose do you make a switch at quarterback. And if a switch is made will it be Quinn or Tebow.
“I think I’m consistently improving,” said Tebow after practice. “I still got a long way to go. I’ve got a lot of mistakes to correct; just the audibles, the reads, the protections. Everyday it gets a little easier. It just takes time.”
The Broncos will get a three week summer break and will continue conditioning throughout the off-season. Training camp is set to start the final week of July with the first preseason game in Cincinnati on August 15th.