Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Orton has the stats to win job in Denver
John Fox is just beginning his tenure with the Denver Broncos, but he may have already dodged his first controversy for now in choosing Kyle Orton to be his starting quarterback over Tim Tebow.
During the offseason, Orton was the subject of numerous trade rumors, and many observers expected Tebow to become the Broncos starter.
But after the first week of training camp, it appears Tebow's stock has plummeted even further and his path to the starting job remains blocked.
Tebow started the final three games of the 2010 season when Orton was sidelined with a rib injury. In those games, Tebow threw four touchdowns and three interceptions and completed only 49 percent of his passes. Tebow did have a highlight in leading the Broncos to a comeback win against Houston in Week 16.
Was that enough to warrant the starting job over Orton?
Fears about Tebow’s arm strength and unconventional throwing motion may have been realized if you examine how he handled more difficult throwing situations last season.
Tebow threw a pick every 26.5 attempts toward the sideline last season (two out of 53 attempts), the sixth-worst ratio in the NFL among those quarterbacks with at least 50 such attempts.
Orton's rate was twice as good as he threw an interception every 55.5 passes towards the sideline (four in 222 attempts).
Orton also clearly outplayed Tebow when rushed by five or more pass rushers last season.
Both of Tebow’s interceptions against five or more pass rushers occurred in the Broncos’ season-ending loss to the Chargers.
The second of the two occurred in the third quarter and led to a Ryan Mathews touchdown run that was ultimately the difference in the game (Broncos lost by five, 33-28).
Tebow supporters will tout his unique skill set, which was most apparent in the red zone last season. His penchant for frequently keeping the ball to himself near the end zone resulted in a very efficient conversion percentage. During 10 trips to the red zone, Tebow threw for three touchdowns and rushed for five while throwing just one interception.
Orton proved more adept at passing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, throwing for 13 touchdowns in 69 red-zone trips, but wasn't able to match Tebow's 80 percent touchdown percentage.
-- Jason Starrett contributed to this report.