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For Denver’s most beloved back-up, 2011 has been a wild ride. Early in the year, it looked as though the starting quarterback position was his to lose, with the Broncos going so far as to make travel arrangements to South Beach for incumbent starter Kyle Orton, in a trade that would get nixed by the Dolphins at the very last moment.
Coach John Fox then named Orton the starter before the season, leaving Tebow in a quarterback limbo that only grew more precarious as third-string quarterback Brady Quinn outperformed Tebow during a few games in the preseason. Orton’s performance in the regular season has, to this point, been wildly inconsistent, leading many Broncos fans to wonder when Tebow, one of the greatest college players ever, would get his shot in the NFL.
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Now, with the Broncos exiting the Bye Week at a lackluster 1-4, and a fan base that’s growing weary of the team’s third year at the bottom of the AFC West, the Broncos are hoping Tebow can give the team enough of a spark to catapult them to the top of the division, or the bottom of the draft.
Andrew Luck, who could very well be the best quarterback prospect since John Elway, is widely assumed to be the top pick in next year’s NFL draft. There’s a bit of a conspiracy theory going around the league that a few teams without playoff hopes in 2011, may pull the plug on the season in the hopes of gaining the top overall position in the draft. Would the Broncos be so devious to pull a move like this off?
The answer may be in their actions. While changing quarterbacks mid-season is not a completely unique circumstance, trading the NFL’s leading receiver from the prior year, Brandon Lloyd, for next to nothing is fairly uncommon. As were the trade rumors swirling around WR Eddie Royal, LB DJ Williams and S Brian Dawkins.
But for the Broncos, the moves seem like smart ones. Dawkins and Williams are all on the decline of their careers, so it makes sense to start looking elsewhere. Lloyd and the Broncos were too far apart in contract extension talks, so the Broncos got some (okay, very little) value out of him before letting him test the free agent waters, where he most certainly would have left Denver.
As for Tebow? The Broncos front office is taking a calculated risk here. If Tebow ends up playing well, the team may have found their franchise quarterback for the next decade. If Tebow can’t find success, then at least the Broncos can pacify their fans for the rest of the season while still remaining in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, a “Win, Win” for the team.
Or, perhaps more aptly, a “Win, Luck.”