by Michael Lombardi
May 25, 02010
QUOTE: “The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes, which neglects surface differences. To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Denver trading Kyle Orton?
I’ve spent as much time in Denver the past few months as I’ve spent at my home on the Jersey Shore. With each visit, I’ve been able to watch practice, talk football with the coaches and discuss their players, their schemes and the changes they have planned for the coming season. The common theme -- and perhaps the only theme -- in Denver has always been, “We’re trying to build a competitive team that will be tough in tough times.” They’ve always been firmly behind quarterback Kyle Orton but have been very careful to make sure no one has a free pass on being competitive and earning the job.
The trade talk surrounding Orton before the draft was not real -- nor would have been realistic. Think about it. The Broncos had no idea they would be able to draft Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in March or April, so how could they trade Orton without a viable proven solution on the roster? I realize Brady Quinn was on the roster, but very few believed he was a proven solution. (By the way, I love discussing, or even just mentioning, the former Browns quarterback because I always receive a rude, and I mean extremely rude, email from one of his supporters. I get such pleasure in deleting his email — before reading -- so keep sending.) So why would the Broncos even consider trading Orton this spring? It just doesn’t make sense.
However, what does make sense is to keep the competitive pressure on Orton, make him fight for his job and let his true colors come to the fore. Players often tell you who they really are in terms of competitiveness, yet executives or coaches never want to believe them. We see this more often in the NBA, when some great players disappear at crunch time (insert Vince Carter here), but coaches keep believing they’ll find the magic and break out of their supposed slump. In reality, there is no slump that is just the player. In scouting, you must learn the difference between a player who works hard and a player who competes. Some can work hard in their preparation during the week, but when the lights go on, they disappear. Others won’t work very hard in their preparation, but on Sunday, they compete like no other — they’ll do whatever it takes to win. Some might have both qualities, but the key in scouting is to make sure you can clearly differentiate.
Who is the real Kyle Orton? Is he able to handle the competitive challenges he faces, or is he going to back down? If he can handle the challenge, the Broncos can believe in him -- if he can’t, the Broncos must believe still in him, but at least they’ll have options. Orton must prove to his coaches, his teammates and most of all himself that he wasn’t satisfied with his play last season. He must re-establish himself with a competitive nature that won’t be satisfied until he has led the team deep into the playoffs. He must show that he can work hard and be competitive on game day. Many might view Orton as an overachiever, but in reality, the reason he has never reached the level of contract he greatly desires is more because he’s an underachiever. At times, he falls short in the competitive arena — but now he has the pressure on his back to make sure he keeps competing. By all their moves this offseason, the Broncos are in position to see who’s “the real” Kyle Orton.
To borrow a phrase from the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, I’m giddy. Giddy because my beloved 76ers have hired the right man to coach the team. If you’re a young coach, or want to be a coach, you must watch the Doug Collins press conference as he breaks down the team and talks about the coaching profession. He was humble, prepared, knowledgeable and ready to achieve.
Collins has learned from his past mistakes, and he has used the time off preparing for his next job — not complaining about lost opportunities. It was so refreshing to hear him talk, and whether you’re a 76ers fan or not, a basketball fan or not, you should listen to Collins as he talks about being a coach.
I am giddy squared.
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