Kyle Orton Disappoints (Again) With 3 First-Half Interceptions
That should have given Orton -- the former, much derided Chicago Bears starter -- ample time to correct the interception problem that has plagued him throughout Denver's mini camps and training camp.
The epidemic of bad passes hasn't waned. Orton endured a ration of heat last week from an Invesco Field crowd of more than 13,000 Broncos followers who booed him lustily for tossing two interceptions during a structured scrimmage. One pick was returned for a touchdown.
Friday night at Candlestick Park, Orton gave impatient Denver fans more reason to voice their displeasure.
Three first-half interceptions from Orton on his first three drives against the San Francisco 49ers' first- and second-team defense were easy pickings, leading to a 9-0 San Francisco halftime advantage. Starting 49ers cornerbacks Nate Clements and Dre' Bly, along with backup safety Reggie Smith, sat back and gladly accepted gifts from Orton, who faced little pass rush on any of his errant throws.
It was this easy: "I saw the route (to tight end Daniel Graham) and played my responsibility and (Orton) threw it," Clements said at halftime. "When an opportunity presented itself, I just made a play on it."
Orton is what Denver received from the Chicago Bears in a monster offseason trade for Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, along with two first-round Bears' draft picks (2009 and '10) and a third-round pick in '09. This controversial personnel move was the handiwork of McDaniels, the former boy wonder offensive coordinator for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick who is now experiencing the intense pressure of replacing longtime Broncos czar Mike Shanahan in a football-crazed state.
Sure, Cutler wanted out of Denver, leaving the Broncos little choice to move him. But this stance emerged after the headstrong McDaniels and the slighted Pro Bowl quarterback found they simply could not co-exist following Denver's willingness to listen to trade offers for a player who passed for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2008.
Given Orton's disastrous showing Friday night in his exhibition debut, the booing and jeering in Denver will continue in earnest. Until Orton tightens up his game and shows he is worthy of being something more than Chris Simms' backup, that tension building in the Mile High City between a beloved but beleaguered NFL franchise and its hard-to-please fan base will require more than a McDaniels' two-minute miracle to defuse.