The final score of the Denver's 24-10 victory over the woeful-even-by-Broncos-standards Buffalo Bills had no meaning. But what did was the order in which the D-town QBs played: Kyle Orton, then Brady Quinn and, finally, Tim Tebow, inserted into an already-decided contest with mere minutes to go. No, it wasn't fair to Timmy -- but it's an indication that the Broncos' braintrust would rather incur the wrath of Tebow Nation than bet the team's season on him.
Their reticence is understandable. Orton was better this week than during the opening-week match against the Dallas Cowboys, throwing several passes that couldn't have been more precisely paced and dealing with pressure and breakdowns with the confidence that only years being stalked by defensive-line giants can endow.
And while newly anointed second-stringer Brady Quinn had one embarrassing brain fart -- tossing a goal-line-adjacent interception to Terrence McGee with seconds left in the first half rather than throwing the ball away and guaranteeing a field goal -- he generally looked more competent and together than he ever did as a Cleveland Brown (not hard, granted).
And Tebow? He was called on to hand off the ball a few times and fade back to pass once -- which promptly led to a sack when he couldn't make a decision quickly enough. Then, in the next series, his sole highlight occurred when he took off on a designed run and slid to the turf after a decent-size gain rather than taking a direct shot to the solar plexus.
Still, this display of wisdom was hardly enough to leapfrog Quinn on the depth chart. The trade to acquire the services of Beautiful Brady was arguably the single worst in Broncos' history -- which is why Peyton Hills wound up number one on our list of the top 10 sports stars who pissed us off by leaving Colorado. But that doesn't excuse the Broncos for trading up into the first round to acquire Tebow if the Chosen One slides even further down the bench this season. And clearly, that's the direction he's heading.
Call it the revenge of Josh McDaniels. When McDaniels left Denver, we compiled a list of the top twenty Coach McD disasters -- and while it was then too soon to number the Tebow choice among them, it'll deserve to be added in if he never becomes a starting-caliber NFL quarterback.
Earlier this summer, it appeared the Broncos were willing to accede to the fans' wishes and hand Timmy the keys to the offense. But that's clearly not the case now. John Fox, John Elway and company aren't going to sabotage their future as the squad's leaders to what they now appear to see as the previous coach's mistake. And unless something unlikely happens in the next couple of weeks, Tebow may not get a chance to prove them wrong.
Check out highlights from the game below.
More from our Sports archive: "Tim Tebow's catapult throwing motion & other sights from Broncos training camp (PHOTOS)."