The Broncos are the center of attention in the NFL right now.
In the span of two days, they signed a Super Bowl champion and 4-time MVP quarterback and traded a young quarterback whose popularity easily outpaces his productivity.
What a start to the offseason.
There will always be much debate about the Broncos’ decisions to sign Peyton Manning and trade Tim Tebow. Opinion, debate and second-guessing are all part of what makes the NFL so popular.
I love the move to sign Peyton Manning. We’re not talking about any ‘ole quarterback. We’re talking about Peyton Manning, one of the absolute all-time greats, joining the Broncos.
This is no small thing. It is as big as it gets.
I also wish it were possible for Tim Tebow to have stayed with the Broncos. But let’s be realistic: It wasn’t possible. Tebow has it in his heart to be a starting quarterback. Manning’s presence makes that impossible to happen in Denver. Had the Broncos kept Tebow, the sideshow would have been a distraction and detrimental to the entire organization. It simply would have been an unworkable situation.
So here we are, Manning in, Tebow out.
1 – DECISIONS SUCH AS THESE ARE MADE ALL THE TIME IN THE NFL. It’s the nature of the league. John Elway made what he believed to be the best decision for the Denver Broncos organization. That is all he can do.
Given Tebow’s popularity, this could not have been an easy decision. Elway knew what the backlash would be from the ardent Tebow supporters but that could not override what he thought was best for the organization. And it didn’t.
Elway thought that having Peyton Manning be the starting quarterback was the best decision among the options that were available right now. I find it impossible to argue that. We know Manning’s resume. We know Tebow’s resume.
Even Tebow himself didn’t argue that.
“I understand what the Broncos are going through and what they’re dealing with,” Tebow told the New York media on Wednesday. “Not many times do you have (the) opportunity to sign someone like Peyton Manning. What a great quarterback he is. He’s one of the best to ever play the game.”
John Elway decided to go get one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Yes, Manning has had major health issues in the last year. Ultimately none of us know if he will hold up physically and return to his prior form.
Let’s be realistic, though. The Broncos would not have invested the kind of money they did in Manning if there were serious doubts about his long-term health. Could something happen? Of course. To think the Broncos made this decision knowing that something is likely to happen is silly.
In addition, there are no guarantees that had the Broncos stuck with Tebow that he wouldn’t have been hurt at some point. In fact, he was hurt in the playoff game against New England past year. There was real doubt that Tebow would have been able to play the next week had they defeated the Patriots.
2 – PLAYERS COME AND GO IN THE NFL. Roster turnover is part of life in the league. The Broncos want to win NOW. So they based this decision on trying to win NOW. They had the opportunity to upgrade the quarterback position and they seized upon that opportunity.
As a 49ers fan growing up, I remember when San Francisco won the 1981 Super Bowl. Shortly thereafter, GM/head coach Bill Walsh started replacing many of the veterans on the team who helped them win that title. It broke my heart.
It also enabled the 49ers to continue building towards sustained excellence. It wasn’t long after that Super Bowl title that the 49ers emerged as a major power in the league.
John Elway has been consistent in voicing his opinion that regular Super Bowl contenders must have a quarterback who is an excellent pocket passer. Tim Tebow has a lot of strong qualities but right now, he is not an excellent pocket passer. Could he become one? The answer to that question has been the subject of intense debate. Given Tebow’s work ethic and determination, I certainly think it’s possible. But by no means do I think it’s a certainty.
Ultimately, we do not know if Tim Tebow will ever become a great pocket passer. We do know that Peyton Manning is a tremendous pocket passer and has been one for many years. If someone has any doubts about Manning’s ability to throw the football, I won’t waste anyone’s time trying to convince that person otherwise.
Making a change at quarterback simply for the sake of making a change is not what the Broncos did here. The Broncos made a change from a young quarterback who needs to develop in many areas, especially in the most important area (throwing the ball from the pocket with accuracy and effectiveness) to one of the best passers the game has ever seen.
3 – DOES THIS TRADE MAKE THE BRONCOS A BETTER TEAM RIGHT NOW? I know it’s hard, but for a moment let’s take all the emotion out of the trade and ask that key question.
The answer is overwhelmingly obvious: Yes. Peyton Manning makes the Broncos a better team right now.
There is not even a debate here.
People might point to some of Tebow’s stats being better than those of some other great quarterbacks at the same points in their careers. But as my 850KOA colleague Dave Krieger accurately points out the sample size of statistics for a player this early in his career is simply too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Sure, some of Tebow’s stats might compare favorably to some of those of, say, John Elway at an early point in Elway’s career. It does not logically follow, however, that based solely on those statistics Tebow will be as good as a quarterback as Elway was.
Tebow’s strengths as a quarterback lie in an option-oriented attack. There is no evidence that such an offense could have long-term success in the NFL. There are also really good reasons that NFL teams don’t rely on option-based offenses. Again, I’ll simply agree to disagree if someone honestly believes that the offense the Broncos ran under Tebow last year would put them in a position to consistently contend for Super Bowl titles. It simply won’t.
Signing Peyton Manning was a brilliant move by the Broncos. I believe over time it will be the turning point in the Broncos’ return to greatness.
Where do you stand? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Tags: Mike Rice