It's first and 10, early in the game. It's a beautiful fall day - sunny, moderate temperatures. The Broncos' offense is on the field, ready to start their first drive. The first play is a six-yard run. After an incompletion, there's a completion for a third-down conversion. There, the drive really gets moving - five successful plays in a row, down the field to the 19-yard line.
The drive stalls a bit there - the qb gets a bit aggressive and risks an interception at the goal line, and then the defense tightens. The quarterback shakes his head and runs off the field, and Denver scores a field goal.
Denver's defense looks good and disruptive, and forces a three-and-out. Denver's offense comes out - the opposing team's defense looks aggressive in the secondary. The quarterback forces one throw and rushes another, and the offense has to punt.
Denver's defense is again up to the challenge, and forces another three-and-out.
On the next drive, some strong running gives Denver a couple of first downs. Denver's quarterback tries forcing another pass - it is off-target and almost intercepted. This is the second near-interception, with another pass knocked down by the secondary. On the next play, the quarterback drops back. There's a blitz, but it's picked up. He throws - it's on target to the receiver, but a defender is directly in front of the receiver, and it is intercepted with a long runback. The opposing team is only 23 yards away from the end zone, and picks up five yards to be into the red zone.
The defense holds again, and the opposing offense kicks a short field goal.
The next offensive possession is a tough one - a WR fumbles in the backfield on a run, and the opposition gets the ball in good field position. And yet, the Broncos defense forces yet another three-and-out to bail out the offense. Backed up near their goal line, the Broncos are able to manage a 3rd and 2. The quarterback is sacked on third down, and has to punt to midfield.
The defense has forced four straight three-and-out possessions, and starts to give a bit on this possession. A good throw against good coverage creates one first down, and a reverse (combined with a good block by the opposing team's quarterback) leads to another. And yet, the defense holds again, and forces a field goal.
Denver has possession at the 25-yard-line. Against a five-man blitz, he is very short on his first pass attempt. The running back has some good hard running to get a first down after an incompletion, and a five-yard penalty gives Denver another first. But then another wide receiver fumbles the ball on a screen.
The defense is back on the field just outside of midfield. But after a couple of short first downs, the defense holds yet again and forces another punt. At this point, the score is only 6-3, with Denver down by three.
At 2nd and 7 at the 36-yard line, the quarterback spins back to his left, on his back foot, and lofts a floater. There is no one within five yards of the defender that comes down with the ball - he catches it on the run, and runs it back for a long runback.
The Broncos defense holds the opposing offense to a fourth down, but they go for it and get a touchdown.
On the next possession, Denver's offense looks discombobulated. An overthrow, a bumbling incompletion, and a punt. The opposing team is able to work its way down the field for a 55-yard field goal as the half ends, and leads denver 16-3.
The second half isn't much better. Generally sloppy play, and both offenses have muffed handoffs in their territories, and trade field goals. Then the two teams finally trade long touchdown drives. Then, the exhausted Denver defense gives up another touchdown on a long run.
On the next drive, our quarterback, trying to avoid a sack, sidearms the football in the general direction of a running back. A linebacker is in better position, and runs it back for a touchdown.
Overall, an ugly game in the Broncos' history. The defense had too much pressure put on it, and despite that was able to bail out the offense multiple times. The wide receiver fumbles were tough to deal with, but the quarterback's bad decisions were worse by far. There were rumors the quarterback was dealing with hurt ribs, but most of the bad throws and interceptions were the result of bad decisions, not bad throws. Impatient and reckless - a surprise since the quarterback had looked so solid in preseason, and in game moments where the Broncos were in control.
I was an adamant "start Tebow!" guy last season. It's been interesting for me to realize I feel less adamant about that this season. But it's only because Quinn is starting to look better. I'm as certain as ever that Orton should not be playing this season. You can say the problem was with the defense, but our defense played extremely well until they were just overwhelmed by the offensive mistakes. You can say the problem was with the running game, but Moreno was running well, and most of the mistakes were in favorable down-and-distance scenarios.
Orton's got problems - he doubles down in bad situations, and goes into reckless snits. There's nothing about this preseason that would give us any indication that that has improved - he has only played well in situations where he has historically played well. We're going to regret sticking with Orton. That's my prediction for the year. I'd love to be wrong, but I don't believe I will be.