What’s happening, Broncos fans?
I am going to start a series entitled “The Way I See It.” This will be my reflections and opinions on how the Broncos are looking in each category, some changes I would like to see for the 2010 season, and some potential possibilities via trade, the draft, or free agency.
I would love to get your feedback on my opinions. Do you agree? Do you think I am full of crap? What do you think would work? So on and so forth.
Category No. 1: The Hallowed Quarterback Position
Quarterbacks have a lot to live up to in Denver, and it is not because of Jay Cutler. It is all because of John Elway, the undisputed face of Denver Broncos history. QBs have been highly scrutinized since the legendary number seven retired, flying high off of back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, and Kyle Orton all had something in common: they all had talent, but, in the eyes of many fans, they could never live up to the greatness of John Elway.
Look, I have a ridiculous amount of respect for John Elway as a football player and fully appreciate what he did for Denver Broncos football. However, I am not going to sit and lament in Rick Pittino-like fashion that “Shannon Sharpe is not walking through that door. Steve Atwater is not walking through that door. John Elway is not walking through that door.”
Yes, it is true that those three players aren’t coming back, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the new players that are here now.
Kyle Orton was a decent quarterback this season. His last game was atrocious, sure. Nevertheless, he showed me that he can manage a game and demonstrate considerable poise. I have listened to so many people blast him for not being a good quarterback: “He can’t throw the deep ball…He can’t scramble…He relies too much on Brandon Marshall…” Orton is not perfect, but neither were Jay Cutler or John Elway (Oops, I can’t believe I said that!) for that matter.
I believe that Kyle Orton is the right quarterback for 2010. I will not accuse anyone of being a hater of the Denver Broncos if he or she disagrees. I definitely don’t think that Chris Simms has anything left after what he showed us in Washington and against San Diego, and Tom Brandstater is just not ready to be a starter. I think Josh McDaniels could focus on making Brandstater into the second string quarterback in 2010 and give him more preseason experience.
Orton has the experience as a starter in the NFL, and more importantly, he started 15 games for the Josh McDaniels-led Broncos. Trading for another starting quarterback, though not completely out of the realm of possibility, would deplete any chemistry that developed this season. Also, as far as I’m concerned, using a first or second round pick on a quarterback would be very wasteful.
With Kyle Orton as the Denver Broncos quarterback in 2010, there are a few things that I would like to see happen:
- Red zone conversions: The amount of touchdowns did not match up with the way that the Broncos moved the ball with Kyle Orton at the helm. It may not be Orton’s fault completely, especially on those third and short plays (more indicative of a weak running attack), but the quarterback has to find ways to get his team into the end zone. Four field goals against Oakland is just not getting the job done.
- Avoiding sacks: While I appreciate that, for the most part, Orton didn’t try to force a lot of throws, I did not appreciate all of those sacks he gave up (159 yards lost in sacks) on third down or to take the Broncos out of field goal range. Orton has shown from time to time that he has the ability to scramble. What a help it would be if we could rely on our quarterback to create a couple of yards with his feet on those third and short plays. He may never be as good as Plummer and Cutler were with the bootlegs and rollouts, but isn’t it the quarterback’s job to be able to improvise with his feet?
- Better distribution: There is a point to the argument that Orton relied too heavily on Brandon Marshall, but I don’t think it is fair to say that he doesn’t spread the ball around. The way that Marshall played this season, what quarterback wouldn’t throw the ball his way? What I mean by “better distribution” is establishing a type of passing game where any receiver can have a big game. Gaffney, Royal, and even Brandon Lloyd have the potential to do a lot of damage on offense, especially Gaffney who had 21 receptions in his last two games. Going into week 17, Marshall had 61 more receptions than any other Broncos player. There are other options, and in 2010, I am guessing that Brandon Marshall is not even going to be an option.
- Consistency: Orton at times seemed like a sleeping giant this season after the Broncos fell behind (Indianapolis and Philadelphia ), but it would turn out to be too little too late. This relates to the the whole red zone conversion woes. Orton will not win over his harshest critics if he doesn’t show that he can move the ball at will at any time.
- Give him what he needs: There are some things that need to happen for Orton to play to his potential: (1) The offensive line needs to give him better time and protect the pocket. (2) The offensive line needs to produce good gaps for the run; no running game equates to difficulty in the passing game. (3) The running game needs to explode so that Orton can start relying on the play fake. Right now, the running game isn’t all that respected, so a play fake doesn’t really fake any defenses out.
As you can see, there are a lot of other pieces that I mentioned that need to come together for Kyle Orton to play at his best. Those pieces will be addressed in the coming days and weeks.