Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Oct 2011

Tim Tebow Named Starting Quarterback in Denver

The Denver Post reports that players were told at an 8 a.m. meeting that Kyle Orton has lost the starting job to Tim Tebow. Perhaps the Dolphins and Broncos can work something out for Orton before the trade deadline?

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 11 Oct 2011

44 comments, Last at 20 Oct 2011, 4:12pm by JIPanick


by andrew :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:19pm

Let it be known that October 11th, 2011 will henceforth be known as Emergence Day.

FO has until now been tracking the "DVOA era", loosely coinciding with what is identified as the moneyball era in football. That changes today. From now forward we are in the Tebow Era.

Quarterbacks shall be ranked only by their similarity scores to Tebow.

by Sophandros :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:29pm

It's posts like this one which remind me of why all sites need a "like" button.

Of course, if this site were to get one, all of RaiderJoe's posts would have about a billion likes.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 1:15am

speaking of Raiderjoe, has anybody seen him since Al Davis passed away? It's been asked before, but was Raiderjow actually Al Davis?

by some guy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 6:25pm

Dawn of time to Oct. 11th, B.T

Oct. 11th to Dec. 12 2012 (When Broncos starting QB is injured in a game against the forces of hell, AKA Ragnarok), A.D. (In the year of our Douchebag).

by Independent George :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 12:32pm

What if they make Tebow... a PUNTER?

I just blew all y'all's minds right there, didn't I?

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:22pm

Movietitle: Tebow vs. ROBOPUNTER final showdown.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:41pm

Robopunter wins over Tebow even if he spots him an acl.

by Theo :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:04pm

In a world where Mega Shark took on a Crocosaurus and Giant Octopus, this in Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus respectively - I wouldn't be surprised.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:21pm

Tim Tebow was not named starter; Tim Tebow ascended to starter. Yeah, he shalt be sacked many times, but three days later, he will leadeth the winning drive over evil.

by Joe T. :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:32pm

I don't see Miami gaining anything by trading for Orton at this point. They'd still have to start Moore for a week or two while Orton learns the playbook - by the time he could reasonably be expected to contribute, Miami is likely to be 1-5 or 0-6. They have a brutal schedule with 5 more division games + they take on the entire NFC East. They'd have to pick up Orton's salary for the benefit of a QB who is about as efficient as the one they lost and still went 0-4 with.

by Alexander :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:41pm

Plus it would get in the way of their "Suck for Luck" strategy.

by ebongreen :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:46pm

I look forward to the day when the Cult of Tebow is regarded largely with the same disdain that most folks afford Scientology.

He's a football player, not the Second Coming. Get a grip, folks.

by Theo :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 5:04pm

I don't see a reason why not.
As long as you call it religion, there's good money to be made in scams.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:46pm

1. Tim Tebow must have done less than any other quarterback handed a starting job in the history of the league to prove he can be a successful quarterback before being handed the keys. Sub-50% completion percentage and all.

2. Miami would be buying a tryout of Orton for next year. Chad Henne's contract is up, and he is probably gone after this (IRed) year. Miami needs to either take on Orton or another veteran (Quinn? Clausen? DelHomme? See the problem?) or draft Luck/Landry/Barkley. In that connection, it makes sense. Matt Moore is not the answer, Kyle Orton might be. Orton was successful last season, and Brandon Marshall would benefit from an Orton type intermediate passer.

3. Denver appears to be in full Suck-for-Luck mode, what with the Tebow decision (despite Brady Quinn being the apparent second stringer). But I don't think they can possibly compete with the Curtis Painter Experience.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 2:43pm

Is Orton really that much of an upgrade over Henne? From what I've seen (admittedly little), they seem to be the same player.

by Jeremy Billones :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 2:50pm

2010 stats from this very site

Player T.Tebow
Team DEN
DYAR 168
YAR 177
DVOA 19.90%
VOA 21.50%
Passes 89
Yards 660
EYds 665
TD 5
FK 1
FL 0
C% 51.30%

He had three starts, plus a bunch of trick plays, call it 50 DYAR a game. Basically average. Orton was good for about 60 DYAR/g with a lower DVOA last year. Call it a wash.

Orton has been much worse this year. Worth starting Tebow just to see if he plays just as badly.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:17pm

The knee-jerk Tebow hate is getting really old. Number 1 is just stupid; how many quarterbacks have been handed starting jobs by doing absolutely nothing beforehand?

Surely Tebow's college career ALONE is a stronger resume than that of a LOT of guys given starting jobs in this league, and that's completely ignoring 289 career DYAR in four games. Come on.

Frankly, number three is ridiculous too. Tebow gives Denver a better chance to win than Orton does - I think the defense going from "no punts" mode in the first half to "no points" mode in the second is a pretty clear sign that reports of the locker room being behind Orton were greatly exaggerated.

Additionally, given FO's research w.r.t. to Michael Vick and his effect on running backs it isn't unreasonable to expect Tebow's rushing ability and improvement in McGahee's production to offset the dropoff from Kyle Orton to Tebow in terms of passing accuracy - it isn't that much to make up, Orton has been mediocre to miserable since McDaniels left.

by BearJew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 5:21pm


Every time Tebow gets mentioned on this site he is trashed, despite his record. Looking at completion %? That's a horrible measure of efficiency. Tebow has a career YPA of 8.0 and 13 TDs in very limited playing time.

by Moderate Mouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:51pm

The best H-back is now the QB. Sweet!

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:59pm

If they really want to suck for Luck, they'll move Brady Quinn to H-Back.

by JetFanMike :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 2:04pm


by andrew :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 2:05pm

Tebow abilities:

- Able to distribute one football to a multitude of receivers
- when he raises his hands, the line parts in front of him.
- able to walk over snow or even puddles on the field
- able to ressurect the career of John Fox
- able to calm the storm of controversy over the broncos QB position
- able to get money from fish (dolphins) to pay for halftime ceremony

by Bots Meat Commission (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 2:24pm


by tunesmith :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:22pm

So far this comment thread is about as intelligent as the comment threads at the Denver Post.

I'm very interested to see what happens with the move. Despite Orton's meeting room brilliance, there was a very clear way to beat him, and defenses had pretty much figured it out.

Tebow has midrange accuracy problems but he's got a good deep ball, he's very good at selling screens, and then there's the rushing. I *think* the way to play him is to play a disciplined contain defense with a spy, and it'll be interesting to see how he can beat that - I think Denver's return to a zone-blocking run game could be an effective counter to that.

I think the judgment point for Tebow is on which side of four additional wins he gets the Broncos. If Denver finishes 6-10 or better, there's reason for optimism.

by TimK :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:36pm

Tebow's ability to sell screens could prove very useful, Orton must have some tell or something because defenses have been stuffing his screens a lot.

I don't think Tebow is as good a passer, but he does tend to make things happen and for a team that was never going anywhere much this year then to be interesting is better than dull. Plus if Tebow does settle down and start passing even adequately then he probably gives the team more chance to win and if he is ever going to develop enough as a passer then the coaching staff and front office need to find out what they have to work with in action before the next draft.

It has been very interesting as a long time Denver fan who doesn't follow college football at all from the UK to watch the mad fandom/hatedom on both sides of this. At least playing him for most of a season will give some evidence rather than everyone just going on faith.

Also from a long range point of view I've been impressed with how Tebow has handled himself through this. I've no college (or religious reason) to root for the guy, but he seems to be a hard worker and fairly grounded person - if he makes it he'll have deserved it, if not then he's another guy who reached peak in college and couldn't make the jump to the different level and style of the pro game. Either way I'll find him easier than some personalities to root for as everyone finds out.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 4:32pm

"At least playing him for most of a season will give some evidence rather than everyone just going on faith."

Nice turn of phrase.

And also true. Bottom line is, he's a 1st round pick. You're pretty much locked in to playing him at some point, if only to find out if he can do it. The team was losing with Orton anyway, so now's as good a time as any.

The real question is, what do you do if he doesn't play that great? I see people saying Denver's in Suck for Luck mode, but that doesn't make any sense to me. How can you give up on a 1st round QB after less than 1 season as a starter, even if he plays bad? JaMarcus Russell got 3.

by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:21am

So if you're Denver with the first overall pick in 2012, you would pass on Luck? Hmm, forgive me if I don't nominate you as GM material. Tebow is a SUNK cost, move on.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:55am

In the name of Tebow, you are forgiven, my son.

In all seriousness, my post was meant more to suggest that it would be incredibly unusual to punt on a first round QB after <1 season of playing. The closest comp I can think of would be Cade McNown. I don't think Tebow will amount to much as a starter, but he deserves better than Cade McNown.

The team I follow carried Bob Sanders on IR for about 3 years before finally cutting him loose, so I understand completely where you're coming from. And yes, I agree that Tebow is a sunk cost, but as with any investment, you have to give it time to pay off. It's one thing to cut loose of a declining overpaid veteran, but it's different with a young player, and even moreso when it's a first round pick.

by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 3:26am

That logic still doesn't hold though. If Luck really is the next coming of Peyton Manning, it would be ridiculous to pass on him in order to give time Tebow to mature. Even you agree that Tebow is not likely to be a great starter, but you want to be polite to him while the best QB prospect in 15 years is sitting there? A GM's responsibility to putting the BEST players on the field to maximize your chances at winning. Fans & sponsors may care a little about how you treat your players, but they care A LOT about how often you win.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 9:53am

But you just used the key word -- if. What you're saying makes perfect sense, IF you know that Luck is a surefire star. "The next coming of Peyton Manning" is an interesting choice of words, because if you recall the 98 draft, opinions were split on whether Manning would be better than Ryan Leaf, and I don't remember anyone saying he'd be one of the best QBs ever. Projecting college QBs into the NFL is about as exact a science as telling the future from goat entrails.

Point is, it's just as ridiculous to assume that Luck is a surefire hall-of-famer while he's in his junior season in college. Plenty of surefire QB prospects have turned out to be just OK (Eli), or total busts (Tim Couch). If you're going to give up on Tebow, Andrew Luck shouldn't be the reason.

Oh, and for the record, I don't even expect Denver to land the #1 overall pick. This whole discussion is kind of predicated on that, but I really don't think it'll happen, whether it's Tebow or Orton, or even Quinn, playing. Just off the top of my head, Colts, Dolphins and Jaguars all have a better shot at the #1 pick than the Broncos.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 10:01am

I forgot to also mention that it has nothing to do with being polite to Tebow. As I said, it's about giving your investment (or sunk cost, if you prefer) time to pay some kind of dividend. You're right, I don't believe Tebow will be good. I wouldn't have picked him, or at least not in the 1st round. But I think it's foolish to say that we KNOW he won't be good with enough certainty to justify dumping him so soon.

by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2011 - 12:49am

I concur that with ANY draft pick the word "IF" is always applied. Luck could be the next John Elway....or Akili Smith. Point is, Tebow hasn't demonstrated anything to imply that he will be a front-line starting QB in the NFL. Plenty of talking heads seem to think he won't even make it as a reserve QB in the NFL. He didn't even leave training camp as the #2 starter! So where he was drafted was irrelevent. Sure it would be nice to recover value for the investment in Tebow, but I don't see any teams giving up a first round pick for Tebow. So, since QB is by far the most important position, if your scouts & drafting evaluation have Luck as a "once in a generation" pick, take him. What's the alternative? Draft for depth on the line or help in the secondary? You would still have a gaping hole at QB to address.

You are probably correct that Denver will not have the #1 pick in the draft. But they'll be top five. I have never seen someone ruin a franchise faster & more completely than McDaniels. I hope he's smart enough to never show his face in town again.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 4:12pm

"Plenty of talking heads seem to think he won't even make it as a reserve QB in the NFL."

Wait, I thought you were arguing AGAINST Tebow?

by NotAredskinFanButWow (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:42pm

I don't enjoy the cult of Tebow and I'm not a fan of Tim himself but I also don't see why the Broncos shouldn't give him a chance. Tebow has actually kind of impressed me when he has played, given all the bashing he takes as a supposedly unacceptable QB. He's shown more than a lot of overmatched young QBs who have continued to get chances have. Hell, the previous Urban Meyer protege is finally looking good in his 7th year in the league, after 50 previous starts.

The major problem with starting Tebow is that, because of his cult of personality, it will be very difficult to ever bench him unless he performs absolutely abysmally. So, Broncos management has to hope for him to be either very good or very bad. If he's decent or normally bad, fans will be looking for a way to blame everybody else associated with the team for the team's struggles. That could lead to a lot of dissension in the front office and on the team.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:48pm

I'm also curious to see how this works out. What I'm more worried about is if he fails (quite possible given the typical fail rate of NFL draft picks), will Tebow fans be willing to accept it or blame it on the rest of the players and/or coaches? If he is successful, the question is irrelevant. If he's as mediocre as Steve DeBerg or Orton, the question then becomes very interesting.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:51pm

Anyone else find the current Recent Extra Points list interesting?

» Tim Tebow Named Starting Quarterback in Denver
» The Best Passing Quarterback Ever

by Theo :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 5:08pm

Seriously now.
If the starting QB is struggling, there's a good reason to try it with your first round pick.
There's a good reason to test the guy a few games and see what you've got.
At this point, there's no upside in keeping Orton over Tebow I think.

by rots (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 8:25am

Speaking as someone who wishes Tebow was a 6th round h-back pick rather than a 1st rounder that we traded a 2,3, & 4th round picks for i can say this is obviously the only rational move.

1. the broncos are god awful regardless of which QB on the roster plays
2. Orton and quinn are not signed next year, tebow is
3. the fans are more apathetic than i have ever seen and the first season i recall clearly was '77
4. Pat Bowlen likes money, tebow will make him more

Personally, i am hoping for a 2-14 season and a chance to draft Luck.

by Illmatic74 :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 9:05am

This will be great. Tebow is already one of the most interesting QBs to watch. That is because he doesn't look like an NFL QB at all. He has poor accuracy, an extremly slow relase, poor footwork, he doesn't seem to anticipate, He doesn't play with a particular rhythm,etc. He just seems to run around and wait for his guys to get open. And even with all the flaws I have mentioned he hasn't been bad in his few games at QB. With all the problems I mentioned I expected him to be much worse. Yes I will continually be annoyed by everyone giving far more credit than he deserves but, it will still be an interesting show.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:47pm

Everything you say is correct and that is why I believe Fox--along with basically every other coach except for McDaniels (who oddly never started him, but that's a story for a different day)--doesn't like him. I still doubt if he'll ever be great due to all his faulty mechanics...but he has thus far refused to fall flat on his face. In fact, things tend to go better for the Broncos when he's in the game.

There are two camps of weirdos out there and each is equally annoying: 1) The Tebowmaniacs who never see anything wrong with him and 2) The Tebow haters who never see anything right.

But given the Broncos used a first round pick on him, that Orton has played pretty lousy this season, and that the team isn't going anywhere regardless who they play at QB, it makes perfect sense to see what Tebow can do.

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 8:26pm

Its not a different day, but McDaniels did, in fact, consummate his weird man-love for Tebow by starting him the final three games of last year. Tebow played as expected: tremendous strength and athleticism, very good running, outrageously inaccurate passing. See? It is not terribly difficult to rationally assess his strengths and weaknesses. That isn't to say there are not two camps of weirdos, but not everyone with a strong opinion about Tebow lives among the lunatic fringe. Well, everyone with a strong positive opinion about Tebow (as a football player) knows the zip code, but doesn't necessarily live in Crazyville.

This is, perversely, good news for Broncos fans as the Luck odds just increased exponentially.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 11:02am

Check again, because McD was no longer the coach of the Broncos when Tebow started. He didn't start until after McDaniels was let go. I've always found that truly odd, but lots of things about the McDaniels era were truly odd.

by tunesmith :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 5:21pm

Tebow throws some ducks now and again, but he hit 50% of his pass attempts with a very long "net yards per attempt" - this doesn't strike me as particularly inaccurate. Ugly at times, yes, but not ineffective.

This is why I am so looking forward to the next few weeks. I dip my toes in the debate waters sometimes, but I largely try to stay out because I seriously cannot see the points of people who think he's going to fall on his face. I mean, yeah, you could have a quarterback that glides effortlessly in the pocket and fires an accurate laser beam into a tight window for a 12-yard-gain, but what's so bad about a quarterback who scrambles a bit, and then throws a 20-yarder a bit late without it mattering since the scrambling enabled the receiver to create more separation? Or, the quarterback who runs out of bounds for eight yards rather than throwing a pretty outlet to an RB for six? I just believe that the choices Tebow makes basically incrementally pile up added likelihood of winning the game, over the course of the game. It may be ugly-looking, but this isn't a ballet! And for what it's worth (and I hate that I feel like I have to say this), I've never seen a Gators game and I'm not religious.

by towishimp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:25am

+1 to BroncosGuyAgain. I admit that I'm put off by the right-wing christian thing, but I can still rationally assess Tebow. I do find it a bit odd that people are so high on a QB that has suck poor passing mechanics and accuracy, which are usually two of the main things that quarterbacks are judged on. I remember people banging on Mike Vick back when he first started, saying things like "yeah, he's a great playmaker, but he's such a poor passer and will never be a great QB." And when Vick re-entered the league, the biggest praise ("reform" schmooze aside) was usually "wow, he can run AND pass now." But with Tebow, those who push for him seem to say "yeah, he can't pass, but he's a playmaker!". I mean, is him selling screens such a huge deal that we're bringing that up as a strength?