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San Francisco 49ers 17 - Denver Broncos 16 - Kyle Orton struggles in preseason debut

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Category Broncos 49ers
Score 16 17
Rushing Yards
110 136
Passing Yards
231 142
Total Yards 341 278
T.O.P 31:42


This one is surely going to generate conversation in Broncos Country.  The Broncos came into their first pre-season game of the Josh McDaniels era with tons of questions.  After the game, a 17-16 loss to the 49'ers, some of those questions have been answered, and new questions have sprung up.  Let's talk about it, shall we?

Let's start where everyone will with the game - Kyle Orton.  Obviously Orton did not play well.  He showed glimpses at times and seemed to move the ball well against the 49ers first-team defense.  Crucial mistakes, however, cost him, and the team.  Orton threw three interceptions, one in the end zone, and seemed to let the game get away from him a bit.  After starting the game 5/5, Orton finished the half 4/11 with those 3 picks.  It will obviously do nothing to stop the backlash towards Josh McDaniels, both inside and outside the fanbase.  That's unfortunate, but it comes with the territory.

I said prior to the game that I was going to watch the quarterbacks to see if their footwork was right.  To see if there were reacting, making quick decisions.  Kyle Orton did none of these things.  He had happy feet all night.  He looked like a player that was thinking instead of playing and reacting.  Part of that could be fact that Orton is still learning the offense.  Part of it was Kyle Orton making poor decisions and poor throws.  I got the feeling Josh McDaniels threw a little bit of everything at Kyle Orton to get a sense, both physically and mentally, of where he is with the playbook.  Test failed.  It was a night to forget for Orton, but luckily, and please keep this in mind, we are still 29 days from the opener.  There is plenty of time to fix what went wrong.

Chris Simms played well, even though the offense didn't seem as complicated(formations and play-calls).  You wouldn't expect the Broncos to throw their whole playbook at the 2nd team players.  You can't ignore, however, how Simms played.  If tonight's QB performances did re-open the QB battle then Chris Simms needs to get time with the first unit.  He needs to get time against an opponent's 1st team defense.  If that happens next week that will tell the tale.

The other huge concern for the Broncos is Knowshon Moreno who left the game in the 2nd quarter with a knee sprain.  He will reportedly have  MRI tomorrow.  The Broncos do have depth at running back, but losing Moreno for any length of time would be a crushing blow.

On the bright side, Peyton Hillis is proving his worth to the new coaching staff.  Hills ran 10 times for 49 yards, and added 19 more in receptions.  That is Hillis' game and the Broncos will find a way to get him on the field this season.

Eddie Royal is a super star.  This year Brandon Marshall wants big-time money.  It won't be long until Eddie comes calling as well.

One thing is for sure after watching the Broncos for 60 minutes.  Mike Nolan's defense will be better, no doubt about it.  Yes there were some let-downs and the team still needs to work on getting off the field on 3rd down.  What I was looking for, however, was an aggressive style, with guys flying around.  I saw that the entire game.  I also liked, for the most part, what I saw from the inner triangle against the run.  There were times, which are to be expected right now, that the linebackers looked a bit confused, but for the most part this group is coming along nicely.  Four Broncos' sacks prove that.

Brian Dawkins will help the defense a lot when he is on the field.  I am definitely excited to watch this unit gorw throughout the season.

This is what the pre-season is for.  There was some good, there was some bad.  Acknowledge it, learn from it, and get better.  That is the idea, and that is what Josh McDaniels and the Broncos are goig to do.