ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –It will truly be “Gator Day” at Sun Life Stadium in 12 days.
The Dolphins have had that promotion planned for months, much to the consternation of supporters of other universities — and to their co-tenants, the University of Miami football program. Now it will be accentuated by the fourth career start of former UF legend Tim Tebow, who was officially promoted to the top line of the Broncos’ depth chart Tuesday morning.
“We’re in a production-based business, and we’re a 1-4 football team. I’m a 1-4 head coach. We’ve got a 1-4 coaching staff; we’ve got a 1-4 team,” Fox said.
“It’s my job — our job — to make decisions to try to change that. We’ll see if this is one that can do that.”
The last time Tebow played a football game on the Sun Life Stadium field, in January 2009, he led Florida to a national-championship-game win over Oklahoma. The circumstances of the teams will be slightly different; if the Dolphins lose this Sunday while the Broncos have their bye, the teams will be a combined 1-9 heading into the contest.
But the past — and the promotion — have scant impact on Tebow’s present.
“I’m very excited about it, not that it’s Miami or it’s Florida, but it’s the opportunity to start for the Denver Broncos and that truly is an honor and a privilege,” Tebow said.
“I haven’t even thought about (Gator Day). It is extremely nice of them. It’s great memories but on that day I will be focused on being a Denver Bronco and trying to go out there and compete to the best of my ability.”
Fox told the team at a meeting Tuesday morning.
“He just announced it,” tight end Daniel Fells said. “(Fox) let us know, ‘Look, we’re making a switch. It doesn’t mean that it’s just one guy’s fault. We all have to go out there and do our part; otherwise it can be anyone else.’”
Given the quarterback change Tuesday and the mid-game tactical shift of replacing team sack leader Von Miller in the base defense struggling with some run-defense assignments, the message rattling through the locker room is clear: everyone’s on notice.
“Any time you’re in this situation, guys know that if you don’t perform or produce, you’ll be replaced. That’s what Coach Fox said in the meeting,” defensive end Jason Hunter said.
“He (Fox) was like, ‘Nobody in here is un-expendable.’ That means anybody can be replaced. Anybody. Guys should know that — come to work every day, do what you’re supposed to do and execute under pressure.”
“No job is safe,” added linebacker Joe Mays. “You always have to go out and work hard. Prepare to be successful. Either that or prepare to fail. If that happens, you’re going to be on the sidelines.”
Fox didn’t specify any other lineup changes under consideration.
“Again, we’re going to look and do whatever we can to try to win football games,” he said. “We’ll do that from this point forward, and we’ve been doing that up to this point.”
But as Orton takes the fall, his teammates understand it could be any of them who’s next.
“We’re all disappointed for Kyle because it almost implicates him in a way that the reason we’re 1-4 is his fault. It’s not the case. It could’ve been me. It could’ve been anybody on this team,” cornerback Andre’ Goodman said.
“None of us are doing a good enough job to make plays and help us win. As disappointed as you are for Kyle, kind of excited for Tebow because he’s getting a chance. We’re just hoping it translates into some wins.”
If it doesn’t, there could be another change down the road, because above all, it was a lack of wins that sent Orton to the bench.
“One-and-four has a lot to do with it,” Fox said. “We haven’t gotten it done as a football team. It’s not one guy; it’s not all Kyle Orton’s fault, but we do have to make adjustments and we do have to change, and we have to do something to win football games.”