This whole Tebow chanting thing and QB controversy is seriously getting in the way of our ability to enjoy the game and to enjoy Mile High Report. This is something that has grown to the proportions that it has reached the team, and has the potential to cause damage to our team. The idea for this post was born in the response section of Trinity’s "Ya its an Orton Thing" post. Unfortunately, I got my dander up in response to what I considered to be irrational condemnation of every thing Kyle Orton and offense did on Monday night. I took off my fans hat and put on that old comfortable debaters cap and proceeded to unload on Trinity15, Core Grind, Asinsoin and Tunesmith. To each of you I apologize, that behavior is not appropriate on a sports blog.
By now I have become known as a total Orton Homer and Tebow hater. Not that anyone is going to believe, or that it really matters, but I am neither. I am of the camp that Kyle Orton is the best quarterback on our roster and that Tim Tebow is not ready to be an NFL starter - those are areas for discussion in a different post.
The real point of this post is to disspell the myth that the sky is falling and our season is already over. We lost by 3 points on Monday Night Football, in our own house, to the ever hated Raiders. That is never easy to take. Throw in a little context and a silver lining stars to break through. We were the second worse team in the league last year, Raiders were middle of the pack. We have a new coaching staff and plenty of new members. We started 4 rookies. There was virtually no off season to put all this together in.
Here is where the intellectual honesty thing comes in. If you approach the game looking to prove a particular point, you will find or invent the evidence to support your point. If you are a Tebow fan looking to have your guy start, you will likely find fault with Kyle Orton and minimize (if not ignor) the good things he does. Beat up on Orton all you want, but there are 10 other guys on that field that deserve your support for the things they do right.
Ok - intellectually honest shocker number 1. This offense performed very well in the second half of the game. Take away the wet ball fumble and this team scores 24 unanswered points on three out of the four drives it is given. I’ve heard it said often that a team was just one play away from winning. In this case it happens to be true.
The Bronco’s did not get the ball until 6:51 left in the third due to Decker’s amazing punt return. They start this drive at their own 11. On 2-10 Orton hooks up with Royal for 18 yards. 1st and 10 from the 29, Moreno runs for 9 yards. McGahee picks up the first with a two yard run, but the Raiders gift us with a 15 yard penalty (of course we take it!). Three incomplete passes in a row, but we are under the Raiders skin and get a double penalty call to keep the drive alive. 1st and 10 from the 30 and Moreno is stuck at the line. 2nd and 10 - Orton to Moreno for a beautiful 24 yard catch and run. Back to the run, McGahee picks up one. An incomplete followed by a sack and we settle for 3 points. 12 plays, 4:56, 84 total yards before the sack.
If you are looking for the negatives - Once again Kyle Orton does not finish off a red zone drive. Orton was only 2 of 5 and 1 sack. The drive was kept alive by a penalty. There is good news here also. Contrary to what is written elsewhere, we did not abandon the run. 3 attempts for 10 yards. One successful rushing first down - given up for the major penalty. Most importantly we are kicking the Raiders while they are down. We had scored the special teams touch down and then stopped the raiders at mid field. This drive kept Mighty Mo alive.
The Defense feeds off of this MO and forces a 3 and out. We get the ball with great field position.
Two quick passes covering 33 yards and we are on a roll! THEN - it happens. Orton fumbles. Mo is gone. The boo birds are out chanting TEBOW. With 15 and 1/4 games left to play, our season is already lost! It matters not that we are only down by 3, or that the Raiders are still pinned back in their territory and the Defense is playing pretty mean ... nope ... none of that matters. Mighty MO is gone!
The defense is playing pretty lights out to this point in the second half. A 4 play drive to open the half. A nine play drive netting only 26 yards. A HUGE three and out netting -2 yards. The Defense puts together one more critical 3 and out before the game is over - so what happens next is without explanation. The mighty defense gives up 65 yards on two plays, the Raiders punch it in from a half yard out.
In the second quarter, following Moreno’s fumble, the Defense rose to the occasion and forced a field goal stuffing two McFadden runs for negative yards and no gain. After the INT they stuff Bush for a two yard loss and then a no gain. This defense DOES have Oakland’s number.
So why the melt down? A fumble is a momentum changer. But the previous two turn overs did not result in a melt down and the game was still very close. My turn to be a little intellectually dishonest: the fumble was disappointing, but the Tebow chants were humiliating, an overt sign from the fans that they had no faith in the Denver Broncos. Disappointment combined with humiliation equals dispare. Oakland, that just scored a major turnover, had their victory amplified by the humiliation the Bronco’s were subjected to (very chippy and personal football game). BANG - the only major failure of the defense the whole night.
Back to the offense. Mo is gone. Humiliation has been compounded by the unopposed score. Time to quit and just get out of this game ...right? First and 10 from the 20, Kyle Orton is sacked for -4 yards. Out come the chants. Orton to McGahee for 12, another fumble but McGahee recovers. Still, the chants. Still time to quit. Third and two, Orton to Lloyd for 20 and a first down - but yet another fumble. Somehow that wet football squirted out of the hands of two defenders and right back into Lloyd. Next play, 4 yard pass to Moreno called back on a Franklin holding. This is looking bad folks. Raiders give back the penalty the next play on a PI. Denver is in Oakland territory. Then, SACK - nine yards back to the 50. Drive is over. But the offense managed to change the field position and leave the Defense in a favorable situation, and gave them enough time to regroup on the sidelines.
THANK YOU COACH ALLEN!!! First and 10, McFadden for only one yard. Second down - incomplete. Third down, McFadden for two yards - punt!
After and exchange of penalties, Denver starts first and 15 at the 15. In the next 3 minutes and 43 seconds the offense will convert a third and 6, a third and 10, and then a third and goal from the 9 for a touch down. Contrary to the popular conception here, none of these conversions were by penalty. Also contrary to popular conception - the net yardage awarded to the Bronco’s by penalty was ZERO. I don’t care what Trent Dilfer said, this offense covered 85 yards in three and a half minutes using no time outs. They may not have shown it, but this offense was playing with urgency. More importantly, they were playing with intensity, discipline, and efficiency. They entered the drive knowing they needed a touch down and a field goal to tie. They got the touchdown and left more than enough time to get back on the field and get in position for the field goal. THIS is the definition of clutch play. Every member of the offense, including Kyle Orton, deserves a lot of credit for that drive - Tebow chanters rationalize this one all you want, the offense performed perfectly in a clutch situation.
Alas, the comeback was not to be. The Defense had lost Champ and a few others - they were unable to get the ball back into the offense’s hands.
What are the honest things we take away from this second half? First and foremost - this team has a lot of fight in it. This team recovered from extreme adversity and kept the game competitive until the final minute. This Defense is GOOD! The young offensive line has work to do, but they too have a lot of promise. Kyle Orton did not quit, he picked his offense up after his mistake and helped his defense. We can convert difficult third downs when we need to. We can put together clutch drives - at least this once. We can stand tow to tow in a slugfest with a very physical team. We will win games that no one expects us to win.
We know that turn overs hurt - that is not a big secret. After this little rant maybe we understand that there is a possibility that the fans do make a difference. We know we can make it hard on the other team with our Rocky Mountain Thunder - maybe now we know we can likewise make it hard on our own team with the unwarranted Tebow chants. Giving aide and comfort to the enemy during battle is traitorous.
Intellectual honesty? Be honest with yourself. The bad thing were obvious enough - three turn overs. The good things are there in abundance if you only care to look for them. Do you want to see the good things, the improvement, the accomplishments? Or do you just want to see #15 start?