Before you can understand just how bizarre the QB situation in Denver is right now, you must first go back through recent events to understand how we got to this point.
Way back in 2008, the Broncos were among the more stable franchises in the NFL. They had Mike Shanahan as their coach for life. They had Jay Cutler as their developing QB of the future. Everything seemed okay. Not great, mind you. The 2008 season ended in utter disaster. And Cutler was already well on his way to becoming the sulkiest sulker that ever sulked. But he was talented, to be certain, talented enough to keep in the fold for ten more years.
But then Pat Bowlen fired Shanahan and brought in Josh McDaniels, that fiery young whippersnapper who instantly clashed with Cutler and shipped him off to Chicago in exchange for Kyle Orton, a less talented QB but a QB McDaniels preferred because he felt Orton could be more easily controlled. So that was the catalyst for everything: an egotistical young coach trying to prove that the franchise QB wasn't going to show him up.
In a way, Josh McDaniels is to blame for everything that has come since.
And what has come since is this: Orton performing admirably (but not spectacularly) in McDaniels' first season. a season that started off well only to end in a tailspin, McDaniels drafting Tim Tebow as the franchise's Gritmaster in Chief, Orton staving off Tebow by balling out of his mind for the first dozen games of 2010, only to tail off late and finally open the door for Tebow, who played impressively at times in the Broncos' final three regular season games.
That brief flash of potential is the last that Broncos fans have seen of Tebow. Since then, the Broncos have brought in John Elway to manage the team, and Elway found McDaniels' replacement in John Fox. Neither man was responsible for drafting Tebow, and therefore neither man feels obligated to give him a chance. This happens all the time with football coaches and GMs. For some reason, if you were drafted by the last administration, you can't possibly be part of the team's new future. And so Tebow was buried on the depth chart and Orton remained the starter after almost being traded to the Dolphins.
This situation hurts everyone involved. It hurts Orton because Orton is a perfectly capable QB who's been jerked around by his front office. It hurts Tebow, because Tebow played decently only to feel that he was buried for political reasons (it didn't help that someone with the team blabbed to Michael Silver that Tebow was the fourth best QB on the team). It hurts the rest of the Broncos roster, because no one on the team really knows how the situation will play out. It hurts Fox and Elway, because both men don't seem to have a clear vision for who they want back there after nearly discarding of Tebow and Orton. It hurts Brady Quinn because Brady Quinn still exists. And it hurts Broncos fans, because they were told Tebow was their new franchise QB, saw Tebow play well, and then never saw him again, and the only explanation as to why has come from a coach and GM they don't trust.
That's why you have fans going out and buying space on billboards demanding that Tebow start. They like Orton, but they know he's not the final answer, and they think Tebow deserves a fair shot to show he's the one. If Broncos fans were given the choice to do it all over again, don't you think they'd choose to rewind to 2008 and keep things exactly as they were, especially with Cutler's recent success in Chicago? I know I wouldn't if I were a Denver fan.
This has been a swift fall for what had been one of the more well-regarded franchises in football. This whole QB situation has made the team dysfunctional (indeed, Fox was hired only after a zillion other coaches turned the gig down), perhaps permanently so. They should have traded Orton and let Tebow sink or swim this year. That would have been the decisive move, the move that would have given this franchise an idea of where it's going. Instead, they kept both men, showed little loyalty to either, and are paying the price. Don't be surprised if this team is starting from scratch again two years from now.