Kyle Orton: It's Time for Denver Broncos Fans to Appreciate the QB

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2011

DENVER - NOVEMBER 14:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos greets his teammates as they enter the field to face the Kansas City Chiefs at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 49-29.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos had plenty of opportunities to select a quarterback in this year's draft, and again, they squandered them.

Instead of treating fans to Blaine Gabbert, owner Pat Bowlen spent the team's first-round pick on a linebacker.

He then went ahead and mimicked himself by targeting the same position in the third and sixth rounds, as if he finally seems intent on shaping the Broncos interior defense.

A week ago, I guess those selections seemed pretty useful. How could one argue with Von Miller? A guy who now takes on the impossible role of securing the Broncos pass rush after it ranked 25th in yards last season.

But then something came to mind: Denver’s quarterback situation has been left to curdle.

The entire Broncos organization seems to be encapsulated in a game of round the twist. All of Mile High chanted for Tim Tebow last season—that fell on deaf ears—and now Kyle Orton is left to play miracle man, although the game of golf seems to have his attention this offseason.

Speaking of attention, Orton doesn’t seem too concerned with the quarterback role right now.

He is one of many quarterbacks who appears to suffer from attention deficit disorder, even though the  lockout has every player engaged in a tense game of “Simon Says” while Roger Goodell sorts through the mess.

But before Orton joined the Broncos, all of Mile High was never expecting this lack of commitment. Ridding the city of Jay Cutler was worthy of a medal in 2008, and the Broncos looked forward to a future of Orton to Brandon Lloyd combination’s which would perhaps earn a playoff berth.

That didn’t happen.

What made Orton special, though, (and still does) was his potential. We saw a pinch of it this past season, when he threw for 3,653 yards, 22 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

These would be considered MVP statistics to some, but then voters remembered he plays for the 4-12 Denver Broncos - that’s when they put their pens away and dialed the number for Tom Brady.

So how does head coach John Fox solve a problem like Orton?

You can ignore it. That was the Josh McDaniels philosophy.

Or Fox can simply solve it himself. By instilling faith back into the fans.

For the most part, the Broncos aren’t stupid. Sometimes it looks as if a well trained schnauzer could challenge the coaching staff in a battle of wits, but that’s not the point.

Denver isn’t simply a bad team caught up in an unlucky streak, either. They are quite the opposite: a talented team, still looking for some chemistry and enthusiasm.

At quarterback, Fox recognizes that he has a guy named Tim Tebow ready to start.

Tebow answers many of Denver’s red zone problems that plagued the team last year, but the downfall here is the experience problems, the accuracy concerns and the long term plan if he were to start and fail this season.

Fox is also well aware that Brady Quinn is present. It’s quickly become a case of three's company, yet it’s a problem teams like Cincinnati, Seattle and Washington would love to have as they all squabble over Kevin Kolb and Vince Young.

Certainly, though, there are questions Orton faces too. He struggles when the Broncos are down by eight points or less.

He also needs to work on his mobility a little outside of the pocket. And for all of his rainbow passes to Brandon Lloyd, his run game was good for just 98 yards and four lost fumbles in 2010.

Understand why the Broncos were 4-12?

But the blame isn’t just on Orton. The Broncos offensive line doesn’t know the meaning of the term “trenches”, nor have they ever really been in a war with an opposing team.

Therefore, if you were annoyed about the Broncos passing on cornerbacks, you’re probably just as frustrated by Pat Bowlen selecting just one offensive lineman in Orlando Franklin.

Yep, don’t be surprised if Orton spends half of the season on his back this year.

The run game is just as misleading. Knowshon Moreno loves teasing Bronco fans each year with a few memorable games, but for all of his flirting, he still isn’t a top running back in the league.

Denver’s run game ranked 26th in rush yards last season, and if Fox is intent on turning this team around, he’ll have to get used to paying specific attention to the ground game.

Simply put, there’s no DeAngelo Williams to rely on like there was in Carolina.

Of course, the brilliance of Brandon Lloyd can’t be relied upon either. He’s taken seven years to post an above 1,000 yard season, and he isn’t getting any younger either at age 30. Denver failed to draft a wide receiver this year, so now you know why Orton is playing golf to relieve the stress.

With it all said, Broncos fans need to rally behind Orton. He’s rarely acknowledged as a successful quarterback, and when Tebow comes a’ knockin’, Orton is left in the dark.

Perhaps the best thing for the Broncos right now is to come together as a team and work. Larry Fitzgerald organized workouts in Arizona, and the New Orleans Saints aren’t too cool for an offseason practice in the Big Easy. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard organized the same thing last season, and aside from a few issues, the Jags nearly made the playoffs.

But in Denver’s case, we haven’t heard as much as a peep.

Here’s a thought Mile High: forget Tebow, forget Quinn—appreciate Orton.

You don’t throw away a 3,000+ yard passer because you simply don’t like him.

Denver, are you listening?

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