Three years ago, Pat Bowlen, the owner of our beloved Denver Broncos, fired former Head Coach Mike Shanahan to jump start the franchise in another direction. The club has certainly headed in another direction: straight down.
Since Josh McDaniels — another now former head coach — started out 6-0 in 2009, the Broncos have gone 6-20, fielded one of the worst defenses in the league and have had no rushing attack. All hope is not lost, however. Per Patrick Smyth:
A Week one loss doesn’t define a year; Fox’s Panthers also lost 23-20 in 2005 at home vs. a division rival and went on to go 11-5 and played for the NFC title.
Fox and the Broncos believe they can still salvage this season. It’s high time they started walking the talk.
“I think it’s all B.S.,” said receiver Brandon Lloyd on Tuesday. “I think everybody is just waiting for an opportunity to move (Orton) out and play anybody other than him. He didn’t perform maybe as well as people expected him to. Whatever. He’s our quarterback, and we’re going to eventually win games.”
If there’s no question that Kyle Orton is the starter, shouldn’t he start playing like one? In his past three starts, Orton has gone 52-of-115 for 587 yards (304 of which came last night) and 1 touchdown against 4 interceptions and 3 fumbles. In those same three games, Orton posted quarterback ratings of 46.3, 27.1 and 71.3 respectively.
Oh, and by the way, the last time Denver won a game, Tim Tebow was the starting quarterback.
If Orton and Lloyd want the “Tebow thing” to disappear, they can make it happen. By winning. Orton can make fans forget about Tebow by winning games and leading the Broncos offense to victories and making big plays. Just do it, Kyle.
Then there’s the rushing attack. The offensive line has taken a lot of blame, rightfully so, but Denver’s backs have got to start making something happen. The Broncos brought in Willis McGahee from Baltimore in the offseason to add some punch to the rushing attack. Last night, Orton outrushed McGahee (1 carry for 13 yards to McGahee’s 4 carries for 3 yards) and Denver had no power on the ground.
McGahee and the offensive line may have fared better if third year running back Knowshon Moreno had been able to do something, anything on the ground. This is the season Moreno was supposed to break out, prove us right, Knowshon!
On the defensive side of the ball, things actually did looked improved from last season. Shoutout to safety Brian Dawkins (9 tackles) who was flying all over the field making plays. Dawkins wasn’t able to make every play however, and the unit obviously was missing linebacker D.J. Williams (who is out for another two games with an elbow injury).
The performances of the linebackers on Monday night were underwhelming; veteran middle linebacker Joe Mays and Williams’ replacement Wesley Woodyard over pursued on many plays and Mays took terrible angles on running plays all night long. Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Von Miller was practically non-existent because he got so far up field on every play that he took himself out of every play.
The good news is Williams will be back and the Broncos have other options at MLB if Mays doesn’t step up. Veteran linebacker Mario Haggan relieved Mays several times on Monday night and rookie linebacker Nate Irving is waiting for a chance to prove himself. As for Miller, he is a rookie and will learn with more playing experience.
When defensive end Elvis Dumervil is 100% healthy again, Miller and Dumervil should be making more plays on passing downs. Both players must play better against the run however if Denver’s defense is going to improve.
Back to the main topic, Orton.
“Kyle’s our starting quarterback,” Fox said Tuesday. “I don’t think too many guys are firing their whole teams after one game because they happen to be in the half the teams in the league that lost in Week One.”
Fox raises a good point, the team has only played one game so we need to be aware of knee-jerk overreactions. But fans just want to see the Broncos win. It’s time the Broncos stop making excuses and just execute. It could be a long, long season in Denver.
But it doesn’t have to be. Make adjustments, regroup, make needed changes that need to be made and start walking the talk. Just win.