The Denver Broncos opened up the NFL preseason with a down-to-the-wire finish against the Dallas Cowboys. It was an exciting game, even though the most exciting part was watching the fourth-stringers duke it out to demonstrate whose bottom-of-the-barrel defense was worse.
Unfortunately, the Broncos lost. But hey, it's just the preseason.
What was even more alarming was the red zone ineffectiveness displayed by Kyle Orton on his only possession. The Broncos offense efficiently moved the ball all the way to the goal line, down to the 1-yard line, and then choked.
It looks like offensive coordinator Mike McKoy's same ol' offense is back. There might be a new head coach, but with an unimaginative OC and a quarterback who can't perform when it matters most, the 2011 Denver Broncos looked eerily familiar to the 2010 Denver Broncos who couldn't finish drives and failed to convert in the red zone.
Let's go back over the drive summary where the Broncos were on the 1-yard line with Orton at quarterback:
1st down—Orton passes incomplete to Brandon Lloyd. Mr. Accuracy can't lay up an easy corner to Brandon Lloyd, the human vacuum who comes away with everything in his general vicinity.
2nd down—Broncos are pushed back 5 yards on a penalty, Orton passes the ball to Lloyd again on a corner, though on the right side this time. No dice. Out of the back of the end zone.
3rd down—Orton barely tries this time. He scrambles around, doesn't find anyone and skies the ball through the end zone for the third time.
The field goal unit comes out. Matt Prater puts the Broncos on the board. That was some real inspiring football by Orton. He goes off, smugly thinking of his victorious performance. Ha!
Wait a second, I thought this was why we went out and picked up Willis McGahee, the red zone specialist. Why didn't the Broncos take the ball out of Orton's hands and give it to McGahee?
Even the third-string quarterback for the Cowboys, Stephen McGee, could scramble around and find an open receiver late in the game when it mattered most. He converted the two-point conversion in the closing seconds of the game, with a do-or-die attitude. I respect that.
As for Orton, I don't know if he has ever engineered a game-winning drive in his career—a drive where he methodically took the team down the field and punched it in with a sheer will to win. (I know McGee was going up against Broncos who will probably not make the team or find themselves on the practice squad all season, but still!)
Kyle Orton might be a temporary solution to the Broncos quarterbacking needs, but as a loyal Broncos fan, I want to see improvement not only on defense—which was indeed evident against an explosive Cowboys offense—but also on offense.
Defense is very important. It will keep you in a game and create turnovers that will give you a short field to work with, but it seems like the shorter Orton's field is to work with the worse he becomes.
I expect more out of the Broncos and their new management.
If I see the same kind of sluggish, half-hearted offensive desire to win that Mike McKoy's offense demonstrated last season and in the first NFL preseason game, I might gag! Ugh! This is already a problem and we haven't even started the regular season.
There's got to be something the coaches can do to get the ball in the end zone—I don't care who they put in.