Kyle Orton looking like Brian Griese 2.0

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton received mostly positive reviews for his performance in Saturday's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks -- so much so that most of the local media, in particular, seemed to ignore the fact that the Denver crew lost 27-13. But while Orton's stats were certainly an improvement on his Broncos debut against the San Francisco 49ers, when the main debate in succeeding days was whether he'd been better or worse than newly minted Chicago Bear Jay Cutler, the last drive of the second quarter had to make longtime Broncos observers uneasy. While his drive-killing interception was likened to a memorably boneheaded gaffe by Jake Plummer, the former Denver signal caller he brought to mind more often was Brian Griese.

Yes, I know that new coach Josh McDaniels' offense calls for lots of short passes -- and Orton completed most of those he threw during this particular march down. But Griese was able to make those throws, too. Unfortunately, though, his dubious arm strength meant that they were the only kinds of plays he could manage, allowing defenses to keep everything in front of them. Hence, the Broncos racked up lots of yardage in the middle of the field,but few touchdowns. And although Orton notched one TD, his inability to put another one in the end zone -- and the pass that Jabar Gaffney dropped for a score wasn't very well thrown -- produced an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.

As for that ridiculous left-handed hook shot for a pick, Orton shrugged it off, telling the press, "I didn't want to take the sack. Sacks aren't going to get you anywhere in that situation." In truth, however, a sack actually would have been preferable to an interception in that instance. Because Seahawk Ken Lucas caught the ball in the end zone, Seattle's offense got to start on the twenty rather than inside the five -- and they capitalized with a touchdown shortly thereafter.

I'm not suggesting that Orton shouldn't have tried to take aggressive action when that fourth down play broke down -- but doing something stupid proved worse than doing nothing at all. Likewise, if he can't occasionally stretch the field, defenses will eventually eat him for lunch. It'll make for an especially Griese meal.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts