Kyle Orton has been praised up one side and down the other for his play in this weekend's loss to the Detroit Lions. Why? Presumably because Broncos fans, and journalists covering the team, are so desperate to find something positive to write about a team seemingly on the fast track to mediocrity that they're treating KO like the second coming of John Elway for playing a slightly above average but thoroughly unspectacular half of football.
Yes, Orton had a decent completion percentage: 16 out of 22. Yes, he threw a couple of touchdown passes. But he also tossed an interception -- to former Bronco Dre' Bly -- that set up a Detroit TD. In addition, he couldn't get the Broncos into the end zone in the first quarter -- and by the time he did, in the second period, his squad trailed 13-0. Moreover, his end-of-the-half strike to Marquez Branson still left the Broncos in a 16-14 hole.
To the Lions -- a team that may be better than it's been the past couple of seasons but is hardly a powerhouse by any objective measure.
The hyperbole isn't Orton's fault. After all, Tim Tebow didn't play, in order to give additional time under center to Brady Quinn, who proved once again that he's not nearly as good at quarterbacking as he is at looking hunky. And the backups at running back blew like a $3 hooker -- a fact that's worrisome even though high-profile load-carriers like Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and LenDale White are injured, since it implies weaknesses on the offensive line. (Oh, yeah: O-line star Ryan Clady has been hurt, too.)
Even so, it's important to keep all the Orton complements in perspective. By comparison with the rest of the lineup, he's been a genuine bright spot in the first two preseason matchups -- both losses, as you'll recall. But that's the equivalent of being the best singer on a program devoted to delusional American Idol contestants who only earn airtime when they wreck ears in an amusing way.
Simply put, Orton is the type of QB who excels when he's got sturdy pieces around him -- a strong running attack, excellent receivers, a stout defense. And does anyone out there think that's the case? Anyone?
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