Commentary

Pressure Point: Orton in no-win situation

Originally Published: May 1, 2010
By Matt Williamson | Scouts Inc.

First, he had Brady Quinn breathing down his bearded neck. Now, the legend of Tim Tebow looms. And the future of the head coach is tied to the decision of drafting the work-in-progress Tebow. The entire Broncos' quarterback situation is a pressure point.

So where does that leave Kyle Orton? This is a guy who passed for over 3,800 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing only 12 interceptions in his first season with the Broncos. In Year 2 in Josh McDaniels' system, he is bound to have a better feel for the play calling and offense as a whole. But of course, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler will not be catching passes for the Broncos in 2010, which won't help his numbers. It also won't help Orton that superstar LT Ryan Clady tore his patellar tendon this week and might not be ready for the season. Let's just say that the Broncos' offensive line can't afford for Clady to be absent -- which is one of the understatements of the year.

But, much like when former Denver coach Mike Shanahan drafted Jay Cutler and inserted him into the Broncos' lineup during a playoff run over incumbent starter Jake Plummer, Orton -- like Plummer -- is limited and has a low ceiling. Soon, McDaniel is bound to look at this situation in much the same way as Shanahan did years before. So, in a way, Orton is in a no-win situation, which is an awfully difficult pressure point.

He is smart, plays with injuries and clearly values the football, which is more than many starters in this league can say for themselves. But Orton really doesn't have any outstanding physical characteristics, and most troubling is that he is unable to drive the ball deep downfield and hasn't shown consistency attacking outside the numbers on more difficult throws. When you play your home games in Denver, having a strong arm is a must.

With Orton behind center last year, just about every pass that McDaniels called was designed to have the ball come out quickly with shorter, easier throws. Such play calling isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of your starting quarterback. He isn't a playmaker or someone who makes those around him a lot better. Even though, right now, Orton is the best signal-caller on the team, he probably is never going to put the Broncos on his shoulders. That's the business of the NFL.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.