Football is the ultimate team game. Quarterbacks get way too much credit when thing go well and too much blame when the wheels come off. Perhaps there is no better example than the past three weeks. Kyle Orton was under the microscope so much this past week that many - including Woody Paige - were asking for Chris Simms to get his shot this weekend against the Redskins. Karma has a funny way of screwing with you.
The Broncos, behind Orton, scored on touchdown passes of 40 and 75 yards to Brandon Marshall. Orton was 11/18 for 193 yards in the first half. Then Kyle got hurt on the final play of the half, a nasty ankle twist that kept him out of the game. In came Simms and, well, most of you know the rest. Simms struggled mightily and the Broncos lost to the Redskins 27-17. The offense failed to score a single point and Simms could muster just 13 yards on 3/13 in the 2nd Half.
That would only tell part of the story. It is not the fault of Simms - not entirely - but it is an easy answer. The defense and special teams had their part in the loss as well.
We'll start with the defense. Right from the start, the Redskins were able to run the ball behind a patchwork offensive line and back-up running back Ladell Betts. Betts finished with 114 yards on 26 carries(4.4 ypc). As a team, the Redskins shredded the Broncos for 174 yards on 40 attempts. It's funny what a solid running game ca do for a quarterback. Behind efficient running running that kept the Redskins 'on schedule' Jason Campbell was able to play mistake-free football - 17/26, 193 yards, 1 TD.
For the Broncos, it was an odd game-plan to say the least, especially after Simms entered the game. After struggling to run the ball last week, the Broncos got the running game going today in a big way - 22 carries, 120 yards(5.5 ypc). Knowshon Moreno SHOULD have his first 100 yard day - playcalling kept him from getting it 0 as he ran 18 times for 97 yards(5.4) ypc. Josh McDaniels seemed to quick to go away from the run, especially with Simms at QB. To me, that was the difference - the Redskins dedicated themselves to running the ball, the Broncos did not. In a game that was close throughout, the Redskins doubled the Broncos run attempts for the game.
Then there is the Special Teams. Perhaps the play that turned the tide of the entire season for the Broncos - a fake FG that was so poorly played(twice) that the Redskins were able to run the play AFTER showing it and calling timeout. The final blame lies with the Head Coach, of course, but the Broncos should definitely be in the market for a Special Teams coach. The Redskins lined up for a 53-yard FG, and right before calling a time out showed their fake formation. After the time out, the 'Skins ran the play, with Hunter Smith throwing a TD pass to Mike Sellers. Smith had the time to roll all the way to his right and the arm strength to throw the ball back across to his left - quite athletic, but embarrassing that the Broncos let it happen. Denver led 14-7 at that point, and seemed in control. Now, with the game tied, the stage was set for what would happen next with Orton going down.
So where does that leave the Broncos? For one, we'll have to watch the scoreboard a bit closer. The Chargers and Eagles are playing as we speak and a San Diego win means the two teams would be tied when San Diego comes calling. The Broncos also need to find out the status of Orton for next Sunday, and fast.
As for karma? There is no time in the NFL for 'I told ya so's. Kyle Orton is the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos for a reason - unfortunately that reason was found out the hard way.
All is not lost, Broncos fans, far from it. The Broncos still control their destiny - whatever that may be,