The Broncos' 24-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday was frustrating to watch, and not only because of the final score. Denver kept showing flashes of promise on both sides of the ball throughout the contest, but not enough -- and not often enough.
The results will leave fans with more fears of continued mediocrity than optimism that some kind of corner has been turned.
At times (especially during those plays when he wasn't under siege), quarterback Kyle Orton looked sharp. Most of the balls he threw were crisper than usual, and he utilized Eddie Royal in ways that recalled the receiver's productive rookie season, as opposed to his after-thought sophomore campaign. But when Orton really needed to come through as the fourth-quarter clock wound down, he flopped in ugly fashion, tossing the pick that sealed the Broncos' doom.
Likewise, Knowshon Moreno had his moments, but the Broncos didn't really commit to the run in a way that would have kept Jacksonville's defense off-balance. And Coach Josh McDaniels's insertions of Tim Tebow were totally perfunctory. Having him pile into the line a couple of times for minimal gain and then abandoning the experiment was worse than leaving him on the bench the entire game. He should have been given the option to throw rather than treating him like a glorified running back.
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Defensively, the Broncos didn't allow Maurice Jones-Drew to run wild, but neither did the squad smother him. He wound up the day just shy of 100 yards, and he likely would have hit triple digits if the Jags had deployed him more frequently. And while QB David Garrard wasn't able to complete passes at will, but thanks to a spotty pass rush, he was able to do so often enough that the Broncos were fortunate to be within seven points in the fourth quarter. And given that Garrard's ticket for the Hall of Fame is unlikely to be stamped now or at any point in the future, that bodes ill for the squad when facing off against a truly elite signal caller.
If the Broncos are to exceed expectations, they need to win games like yesterday's. Instead, they exhibited no real personality on offense or defense, let alone special teams. The ship seems rudderless, and if McDaniels has a broader vision for changing that situation, it wasn't in evidence on Sunday.
At this point, those observers expecting small things from this edition of the Broncos have more evidence to bolster their theories. Damn it...