It wasn't Kyle Orton's fault that the Broncos lost that game on Monday, despite what the Tebow Chanters may lead you to believe. It's also perfectly fine to be a fan of Tim Tebow -- just getting that out of the way -- but you also have to be a fair minded fan.
There were several plays that changed the outcome of the game, in no particular order:
- Orton's interception - The Broncos were driving before half time and were primed to get at least a field goal.
- 15-yard face mask - After the interception, there was less than a minute on the clock and the Raiders were going to run the clock out. A 15-yard face mask penalty by Vickerson gave the Radiers the opportunity to move the ball a little bit and get in position for a field goal. Janikowski looked like he could have nailed a 65 yard field goal.
- Moreno fumble - Moreno fumbles immediately after getting the ball back.
- Can't stop the four-minute offense - After Orton leads Denver to a touchdown, all the Broncos need is a stop on defense and they'll get the ball back with plenty of time left. There was 3:43 on the clock and the Broncos had two time outs plus the two-minute warning. Everyone and their mom knew Oakland was going to run the ball, and they give up a 10 yard rush right off the bat.
The biggest play, though, is certainly the Orton fumble. I'm an Orton fan. I'm not going to make up an excuse for it, but it does happen. It happens to the best of them. On opening night in the 1994 season, on Sunday Night Football no less, Denver loses to the Chargers 34-37 on an eerily similar play:
"Finally, with Denver threatening at the Chargers' three-yard line, Elway rolled to his right and attempted to pass. But the ball slipped out his grip and [Junior] Seau plucked the fumble out of the air at the eight with 35 seconds to play."
To say that one play, or one game, should qualify Orton to the bench is a complete fallacy. Nothing suggests that the backup quarterback, Brady Quinn, or the third stringer the crowd was calling for would be able to play well in that game given the same circumstances Orton was dealt with.
I find it incredibly shocking that nobody has really been talking about the hideous offensive line play. Every O-lineman was called for a holding call in the game. The only exception was Beadles, but he was never called for a hold because Richard Seymour was blowing him off the ball on every play. Oakland was able to render Denver's run game useless with just the front four, and was able to put loads of pressure with five rushers. It's embarrassing as a fan that all these so-called Bronco fans are calling for a new quarterback when the offensive line was the biggest weakness in the Raiders game. How many times was Orton under great pressure within seconds? The only quarterback that can manage that is Aaron Rodgers... the hottest QB in the NFL right now.
If Orton continues to play poorly, a change should -- and probably will -- be made. But in that Raiders game, the QB had no help at all. Football games are won and lost in the trenches.
And while we're at it, I want to debunk the whole "Orton is 5-19 in his last whatever starts." The Broncos were 4-12 last year. QB record is a lazy and irresponsible way to evaluate and NFL quarterback. QB is a dependent position -- most QBs in the NFL, other than the five best (which are some of the greatest to ever play, mind) -- are only as good as the offensive line and running game. QBs have plenty of influence in each game played, but to assign the won/loss record to the QB is a slap in the face to every other player on that team.
Won/loss record isn't even a good evaluator of an MLB pitcher. To draw a comparison: The Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez was 4-8 in the second half last year after starting 15-1, and everyone describes Ubaldo as being terrible. In truth, he was quite good -- he compiled an ERA of below 3.50, which is far better than what an ERA for a quality start is. But enough baseball.
So this is my challenge, MHR. I've lurked on the site for years, but lately the quality of posts and craziness of comments has become unnerving (blaming the MSM for bashing Tebow, and when they're all of a sudden pro Tebow after the chants... it's okay to like the MSM?). It's okay to dislike Orton and be a fan of Tebow, but at least be fair and bring tangible facts to arguments.