Kyle Orton Remains Starter For Broncos
As the Denver Broncos prepare to recover from the Monday night drubbing they took from the Oakland Raiders, the team finds itself mired in a (predominantly fan-spawned) quarterback controversy.
Despite the lackluster performance turned in by quarterback Kyle Orton, Denver Head Coach John Fox remains unequivocal on Orton’s position at number one on the depth chart.
Furthermore, Fox refuses, unlike many fans, to place all or even most of the blame on Orton for Monday night’s loss saying, “I think we came up a little bit short, there were plenty of reasons why and it wasn't just the quarterback."
Got it, Broncos fans? Barring injury, Orton is your starter for the foreseeable future. No amount of boos, jeers, chants or billboards is going to change that.
While we’re on it, can we all agree that the pro-Tim Tebow billboard(s) that a group of fans – led by Jesse Oaks of Independence, Kentucky – plan to purchase (for roughly $10,000 each) is a waste of time, money and makes Broncos fans the world over look petty, pathetic and poorly-informed?
"I've seen a lot of billboards and I can't remember one that really influenced me,” Fox said to a chorus of laughter at his post-practice press gaggle on Thursday.
Tebow, always the class act, said that the fans should take those tens of thousands of dollars and donate it to the Tim Tebow Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps under-privileged children around the world.
Orton, for what it’s worth, does not appear deterred saying, “I'm not going to sit here and waste my time answering questions about (Tebow) until Coach Fox comes to me; he's the only one I'm going to listen to.”
Lost in the scuttlebutt about the quarterbacks is the fact that the Broncos have a game on Sunday afternoon and, as such, a chance to notch their first victory of the season.
Denver faces a couple of hurdles going into Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.
The first such hurdle is that several key players suffered injuries in Monday night’s loss and could potentially be unavailable come game time on Sunday. Cornerback Champ Bailey, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd – Pro Bowl players all – have missed practice this week and will be game-time decisions.
Running back Knowshon Moreno, who accumulated a grand total of 22 rushing yards in week one, could also be on the shelf with a strained hamstring.
Fox recognizes injuries are a fact of life in the NFL and says, “It's no excuses, no explanations, just find solutions and our solution is next man up.” Fox said that he is generally reluctant to start a player who has not practiced all week but hedged by saying that every situation is different and the players will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. That is coach speak at its finest.
The second hurdle Denver will have to overcome is their poor play in the trenches.
Much like the Raiders, the Bengals have a big, strong and athletic defensive line. In their week one game against Cleveland, the Bengals tallied four sacks and their two primary pass rushers, ends Carlos Dunlap and Robert Geathers, combined for five pressures and four hits on mobile Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy.
The Bengals’ defense was able to hold Browns running back Peyton Hillis (remember him?) to just 57 rushing yards on 17 carries, only good enough for a Moreno-like 3.4 yards per carry.
Denver’s offensive line was eaten alive in both run blocking and pass protection against Oakland. Fox said he believes the current o-line can be successful and that the problems Monday night were a result of “poor execution.”
Also much like Oakland, Cincinnati brings a stout running game led by Cedric Benson.
Benson accumulated 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in Cincinnati’s week one win. Against Oakland, the Broncos surrendered 190 rushing yards but a sizeable chunk, 87 yards to be exact, came on just three plays. The Broncos need to put forth a consistent effort and not play feast-or-famine run defense.
Cincinnati will be starting rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Broncos’ defensive coordinator Dennis Allen says that while he will throw some different looks at young signal-caller, “It's all going to come down to us being able to stop the run … until we do that it really doesn't matter how much we confuse the quarterback when he's turning around and handing the ball to Cedric Benson.”
The contest with Cincinnati is a winnable game for the Broncos. The entire team, coaches and players, believe the team’s mistakes in week one are correctable.
As defensive end Jason Hunter said when asked about the defensive front’s struggles against the run, "we’ve definitely got guys who can anchor the middle, it's just maybe a step here or a knock back here ... things that are all correctable."
Even though the focus in Denver this week has been on the quarterbacks, the game on Sunday will come down to how well the Broncos can run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. Cincinnati should have a game plan very similar to Oakland’s; can Denver learn from and correct their mistakes? If not, it is going to be a very, very long season in the Mile High City.