Coach, teammates back Orton as starter
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP)
The fans may be chanting ''Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!''
Inside Broncos headquarters, the deafening roar is more like, ''Orton! Orton! Orton!''
''Kyle's our guy. That's who we're rolling with,'' running back Willis McGahee said Monday. ''Whoever doesn't like it, it is what it is. He's leading the Denver Broncos. He's running the show. So, I mean, I think everybody just needs to get over it.''
Which is what coach John Fox said minutes earlier, albeit a bit more diplomatically.
Fox reiterated that Kyle Orton is his starter even though the Broncos are 1-3 and coming off a disheartening performance at Green Bay that included three interceptions and pushed Orton's turnover total to eight.
''I think first of all, we opened it up for competition. It's not something where we took a fan poll or we took a vote,'' Fox said. ''We watched practice, watched the competition and we're four games into that. And so I don't know that we're in any place different than we've been all along.''
Despite Tebow's terrible training camp performance, his legions of fans have been clamoring for him all season, pointing out Orton's six interceptions, two fumbles and 6-20 record since winning his first six starts in Denver.
Packers fans even started the Tebow chant in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 49-23 rout Sunday, and the calls for the former Florida star are sure to intensify if the Broncos continue to struggle.
Linebacker Joe Mays said he appreciates the fans' passion, but ''I think we need more support for Orton as well.''
''I'm pretty sure he feels like no one wants him out there,'' Mays said. ''But us in this locker room, we know what he's capable of doing. We know that he can lead this team, and we'd much rather have the fans show him more support than calling for Tebow to come into the game.''
Mays said he can't imagine being in Orton's cleats right now and not feeling the love from the fans, but he said his teammates ''support him 100 percent'' and ''we just need the fans to support all of our players.''
None of the Broncos quarterbacks were available for comment Monday, having left the facility during Fox's 26-minute news conference that followed a full-team, four-hour film session.
Tebow actually did play at Green Bay, but only for one snap. He lost a yard on a run up the middle in the first quarter, then watched the rest of the game from the sideline. Fox said he had a bigger ''Tebow package'' he had hoped to use to take advantage of his running skills, but the flow of the game dictated he stick with Orton fulltime after that one carry.
Fox said he didn't throw Tebow into the game just to prove a point but that the run was designed as part of his first 15-play script.
''The hard part of the National Football League is it's hard to master one offense, and when you spend too much (time) trying to master another one, there is not enough time that goes around, particularly with a new staff, a new offense, a new defense, really a new special teams coach as far as coordinators,'' Fox said. ''So, we did have - and we do have - other plays designed for Tim, but we had some other things that were actually working pretty well.''
Fox elected not to put Tebow in just to gain experience when the game got out of hand.
''We need our STARTING quarterback to get experience, for us to improve,'' Fox explained. ''That's the idea behind that. He needs to get better in our system. I know he gets judged on the past couple of years. But we are trying to get him better in our system and use that experience to get better.''
Fox isn't ruling out a change in quarterback at some point, but added: ''I don't want to get into what-ifs. Anything is possible, but there's no what-ifs at this point and Kyle Orton is our starting quarterback.''
Unlike the old regime that gave almost all the snaps to Orton during the week, Fox said his backup quarterbacks do get some snaps at practice.
''We give reps to both Brady (Quinn) and Tim because you are one play away from being in,'' Fox said. ''But when the regular season starts, unlike training camp and the preseason where it's more shared ... your starters, I don't care what position, quarterback or cornerback, they get the majority of the reps.''
Still, it's incumbent upon Tebow to show something at practice to earn more playing time.
''We're constantly evaluating, whether it be in games, whether it be in practice,'' Fox said.
The thing is, there's no guarantee that if Orton were to get hurt or benched that Tebow would be the next man up. Quinn outperformed him at camp and in the preseason.
''What I can say is it's all possible,'' Fox said. ''I can't predict what will happen other than I can tell you this week as we prepare, Kyle Orton is our quarterback.''