Who's Starting? What WAS Fox Thinking?

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20: Running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos is tripped up by a diving safety Jairus Byrd #31 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

     With the news that John Fox has named Kyle Orton as the Broncos' starter for the opening game in the 2011 season, and the large number of comments I've heard about how people are not surprised but wish that Fox had gone a different direction. I thought I'd look at the rest of the starting offense as it is posted on the Broncos' official website. The offensive starters are as follows:

WR Brandon Lloyd LT Ryan Clady
TE Daniel Fells LG Zane Beadles
WR Eddie Royal C J. D. Walton
QB Kyle Orton RG Chris Kuper
FB Spencer Larsen RT Orlando Franklin
RB Knowshon Moreno



LT Ryan Clady
LG Zane Beadles
C JD Walton
RG Chris Kuper
RT Orlando Franklin


Now I know that there are alot of people who do not believe that Kyle Orton should be starting for Denver in 2011. After looking at this list of starters, I cannot believe that John Fox has named any of these players to be starters.

Take a jump with me.

Let's look at each player's performance in 2010:

Brandon Lloyd (WR) - played in 16 games. Missed 49.6% of the passes thrown his way. His overall average was 18.8, but that average dropped to 11.6 on 3rd downs, to 9.0 in the Red Zone and to 4.0 on passes caught between the opponent's 10-yard line and the goal line. He obviously wasn't getting the job done.

Ryan Clady (LT) - played in 16 games. Cost the offense 40 yards due to penalties. He allowed his quarterback to be sacked 7 times. He has to block better since our quarterback is so immobile. Forcing the offense to cover ground twice is also unacceptable.

Zane Beadles (LG) - played in 16 games. Cost the offense 15 yards due to penalties and gave up 6 sacks. See blocking comment under Clady. Forcing the offense to cover ground twice is also unacceptable.

J. D. Walton (C) - played in 16 games. Cost the offense 66 yards due to penalties. Gave up 3 sacks. See blocking comment under Clady. Forcing the offense to cover ground twice is also unacceptable.

Chris Kuper (RG)  - played in 16 games. Cost the offense 25 yards in penalties. Gave up 5 sacks. See blocking comment under Clady. Forcing the offense to cover ground twice is also unacceptable.

Orlando Franklin (RT) - hasn't played in an NFL game. He's an unproven rookie who will undoubtedly  get pushed around like Beadles and Walton did during their rookie year.

Daniel Fells (TE) - played in 16 games (but for another team). Missed 37% of the passes thrown his way. Had a 9.5 average overall. Was able to look good on 3rd downs by raising his average to 12.1. In the Red Zone, though, his average dropped to a mere 4.0 and between the 10-yard line and the goal line it fell even further to 3.0.

Eddie Royal (WR) - played in 16 games. Missed 43.8% of the balls sent his way. Had a 10.6 average overall. Raised his average on 3rd downs to 12.3, but dropped his production in the Red Zone to a measely 7.0 and even further to a 3.0 average between the 10-yard line and the goal line.

Kyle Orton (QB) - no need to spell this out, it's been printed on reams of paper and hundreds -- if not thousands -- of computer screens already.

Spencer Larsen (FB) - missed over 25% of the games in 2010. His impressive 6.0 average dropped to 0.0 in the Red Zone. The only remotely redeeming thing for him was that he caught 100% of the passes thrown his way.

Knowshon Moreno (RB) - missed 19% of the 2010 games. Had an overall average of 4.3, but saw that average drop to 0.5 on 3rd & 1 or 2 to go. His Red Zone average was an atrocious 2.3 and inside the 10-yard line he struggled to reach an average of 1.4

So why on earth would John Fox name any of these guys starters?

     I would hope by this point, you will have realized that this article was not intended in any way, shape or form to be a serious look at our starting offense.

     What I do hope it has done is highlight the inherent flaw in lifting up 1 or 2 specific statistics out of a single player's entire body of work over the course of a given season and evaluating him on it. Not only that, but, I hope it reminds of the problems in trying to evaluate any single player in total isolation from what was going on with the other 10 players on the field on any given play. In other words, if we look hard enough, we can find a reason to argue against starting anyone.

     It has been said that football is the ultimate team sport (attributed to a variety of sources). Whether or not you believe that, there is an important kernel of truth in it: for any given play to succeed, all eleven offensive players have to do their jobs better than the eleven defenders they are facing.

     Sometimes, the failure of a play is due to a mistake made by a single player. Over the course of a single season, wherein an offense will run approximately 1000 plays, however, the overall success of an offense is rarely that simple.

     Just something to think about as we ready ourselves to cheer the Broncos on to victories in 2011.

Go Broncos!!!!!

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