Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Manning in, Tebow out on the Broncos?

This Slate article sums up the imperfect but ultimately correct decision that John Elway and the Broncos made in signing Peyton Manning to, presumably, replace Tim Tebow as quarterback. It may not come out in my perennial taunting of the Broncos as sitting prey for the more-talented Chargers, but I was once a Broncos fan and still like to see them win. After 1998, though, I lost interest in the Broncos and started following that underachieving nerd, Peyton Manning. Finally, the two situations have met.

Manning is not a great choice at quarterback, due to age and health. Still, it's not a bad choice. Brett Favre was a good-but-not-great choice for the Jets and Vikings, and Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the playoffs even though he wasn't quite the Joe Montana who won four Super Bowls with the 49ers. We will find, maybe in a year or two, maybe even three, that the Broncos still have the same void at quarterback that they've had ever since 1998.

With the choice of having Manning at quarterback, I think we can see how absurd it was to ever have Tebow starting at quarterback. It's not impossible for Manning, due to a variety of reasons, to completely bomb, playing a few awful games before finding his way to the bench or retiring. It's similarly not impossible for Tebow to continue to inexplicably win games. But, of course, it's also not impossible for me to win the lottery on three consecutive days. Odds are that Manning will have a good if unspectacular year while Tebow will either not play, play a different position, or maybe continue to inspire the same unyielding belief that fuels the convictions of UFO enthusiasts.

Lest we forget, Tebow started 13 games last year, including two playoff games. Yes, he won eight of them, including six in a row, but it's really not that hard to find a second-year quarterback on a good team who can go 8-5. Kordell Stewart had similar years, as did Michael Vick and quarterbacks who are far more forgotten for having far less athleticism than Stewart, Vick or Tebow. Tebow is very exciting and fans love to see him play, but he is at best an average quarterback, and likely below-average.

In those 13 games, Tebow lost four of the last five, completed more than 20 passes just once, and completed a total of 25 passes in his last three games, including a stellar 6-of-22 performance at home against the Chiefs with a playoff berth on the line. The only objection there is to signing Manning to replace Tebow is that Manning isn't a long-term answer, which is true, but he's a short-term answer, which is more of an answer than Tebow is.

The Broncos have a very talented team, and have fielded many talented teams over the last decade who were either devoured by Peyton Manning's Colts in the playoffs, or who foundered due to a strong quarterback, sometimes both. This might be their chance to make a deep run into the playoffs and do so with confidence instead of novelty or surprise, as in the past.

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