Quarterback Search: Denver Broncos

Most Denver Broncos fans probably won’t want to acknowledge this, but John Elway and his staff are probably going to bring in a quarterback, not just to backup Tim Tebow, but to seriously push him for the starting job.

Regardless of what you think of Tebow, he deserves to be recognized for his clutch performances. At times it seemed like he truly did will the Broncos to victory. In terms of team success, he exceeded all expectations.

But the fact remains that the Broncos scored two or fewer touchdowns in five of their seven victories with Tebow as the starter. And when you win games like that, it is never the quarterback’s doing.

The real MVP in Denver was the defense, which allowed 13 points or fewer in five of Tebow’s 11 starts – four of which resulted in wins that were unfairly credited to the Tebow by the media.

It’s tough to evaluate Tebow given his unorthodox style of play, but by using ESPN’s Total QBR we can reasonably compare him to more traditional pocket passers. Total QBR grades a quarterback’s performance in a given situation, and rewards players who make positive plays in clutch moments – regardless of whether the play is a run or pass.

One might expect this formula to favor Tebow more than the traditional statistics. However, of 34 qualifying quarterbacks, Tebow ranked 32nd – ahead of only Curtis Painter and Blaine Gabbert.

Tebow’s Total QBR of 27.2 is something awful (50 is considered average), but what makes it worse is his inconsistency.

Using each quarterback’s single-game QBRs, compared to their season-ending QBR we can determine who was most consistent – and Tebow ranks among the worst. On average, Tebow’s performance was anywhere for 23.8 points above or below his Total QBR.

One could argue that this shows his ability to perform at a high level, but 23.8 points above his average still only gets him to a Total QBR of 51 – roughly the league average.

A further examination of Tebow’s QBR also shows us that, contrary to popular belief, the Broncos did not live and die by his performance.

When Tebow performed above the 50-point mark, the Broncos were just 2-2 (incuding a 41-23 beat down at the hands of the Patriots). On the flip side, when Tebow performed below league-average, the Broncos were 5-3 (including an 18-15 win over the Bears despite a QBR of 16.5).

In sort, the Broncos won despite Tebow, but because of him.

So where do the Broncos go from here?

It’s tough to know exactly what the Broncos front office will look for in a quarterback, which makes predicting Tebow’s potential successor difficult. GM Brian Xanders technically drafted Tebow, but in reality it was Josh McDaniels calling the shots. Now, it’s safe to assume that John Elway will have the final say over the quarterback situation, with John Fox’s opinion factoring into the mix as well.

If we assume Elway will be attracted to quarterbacks who most closely resemble himself, two guys in this year’s draft class come to mind:

Nick Foles, Arizona – While he probably isn’t the next Elway, Foles does share some physical trails with the Hall of Famer. Like Elway, Foles is an impressive athlete for his size. He’s confident throwing on the run and will occasionally take off down the field. His biggest issue has been consistency, but could be an option in the late 2nd or 3rd round.

Brock Osweiler, Arizona – We’ve never seen a quarterback with Osweiler’s size and athleticism, but he is extremely raw – which just might make him perfect for the Broncos in the 3rd or 4th round. Elway could draft Osweiler and honestly tell the Denver fan base that he is not a threat to Tebow. This would appease the fans for the time being, while the Broncos can take their time grooming Osweiler for the future. If Tebow continues to develop, no problem – trade Osweiler. If Tebow fails, no problem – start Osweiler. It’s a win-win situation.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Broncos Comments Off

About the author

Ryan McCrystal

Ryan launched DraftAce in 2004. His Top 100 board is currently ranked 1st out of 20 publications in The Huddle Report's five-year averages. His mock draft is ranked 10th out of 32 competitors.You can also find Ryan's weekly Heisman Predictor series on ESPN Insider every fall.