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Old 05-04-2009, 10:29 AM   #1
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Denver’s coach and quarterback in this together
By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
1 hour, 21 minutes ago

Buzz up!3 votes Print
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – It could have been perceived as a negative moment, but Josh McDaniels saw more promise than virus. The Denver Broncos coach watched wideout Eddie Royal blister a path between a safety and cornerback 50 yards downfield, stretching his arms out in the end zone. But the arching spiral from quarterback Kyle Orton was inches too far, dropping to the earth with the thud of a manhole cover.

Royal cursed and punched the football as it bounced back into the air, while teammates let out a chorus of groans. But standing back at the line of scrimmage, McDaniels saw something more.



McDaniels, left, and Orton during minicamp last month.
(David Zalubowski/AP Photo)


“Kyle’s arm,” the coach would later pointedly say, “was strong enough to overthrow Eddie Royal today.”

The statement was a small peek into a marriage – two men joined at the hip, where the natural inclination is to believe that the failure of one could end up dooming the other. Forget the war chest of draft picks the Broncos gained for Jay Cutler. And ignore that Orton is in the final year of his contract. Those are merely smaller points in the inescapable reality of comparison in the NFL – a reality this franchise can no more escape than the surrounding mountaintops can duck beneath the clouds. Seeking Orton in a deal for Cutler will tie the two players together forever, and more importantly, tie McDaniels to a pair of starting quarterbacks who will be painstakingly measured against each other next season.

This scenario is why position-for-position trades are so rare. The two players become inevitably tied together, and success and failure of a deal becomes much more measurable. It’s begging for long-term comparison, which is why fans in New York and San Diego will forever debate Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.

And yet, additional draft picks or not, McDaniels has unequivocally tied himself to Orton in 2009 and perhaps beyond. He did so first by taking him over packages that would have produced either the Washington Redskins’ Jason Campbell or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Luke McCown, and then again on draft day, when he eschewed moving boldly in pursuit of USC’s Mark Sanchez, or modestly for Kansas State’s Josh Freeman. Once Cutler was put on the trading block, the month of April became a period of singular choice rather than consequence. Kyle Orton? For better or worse, he’s McDaniels’ gamble.

So when told of critics inside the Bears franchise who lacked faith in Orton’s arm strength, McDaniels simply protested and offered Sunday’s snapshot, when his fastest wideout couldn’t catch up to Orton’s deep ball.

“The distance you throw the ball down the field, to me at times it can be very overrated,” he said. “I’m worried about accuracy. I’m concerned with them reading the plays the right way, getting it to the people that need to have it on time. For the amount of times you throw the ball 60 yards in a season, I think that’s significantly overrated, unless you’re a team that’s going to throw 10 of those passes a game, which we’re not.”

McDaniels doesn’t say this in a cocky or naďve fashion – two labels that were tattooed on his forehead by some media during the Cutler fallout. Instead, he says it with a few core beliefs when it comes to Orton.

First, in four years in the league, Orton has been given the chance for realistic progress only twice: first as a rookie in 2005, and then again last season as Chicago’s primary starter. And both times, areas of his game became appreciably better. Second, Orton is still young (26), and McDaniels sees room for every area of his game to grow – be it mechanics, decision-making, defensive recognition and so on.

“We think we can make him better,” McDaniels says. “We think we can make him a really competitive, solid quarterback in our system. I’m never going to think otherwise. Everything can get better. He can improve in every area. If [a quarterback] ever stops believing he can get better at something, then he’s lost an edge.”

He says this with supreme confidence. He never lacks for that. It’s a byproduct of being the son of legendary Ohio high school coach Thom McDaniels, and then shimmying up the coaching ladder during his 20s under the tutelage of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.

He has stolen volumes of knowledge from all of them. Preparation and detail from his father, like knowing that when a player watches film, he should be just as concerned with everything going on in the picture as he is with the activity surrounding himself. Relentless work ethic from Saban, who expected almost scientific precision in practice and games. And the ability to mold and tie together all aspects of coaching, motivation and leadership from Belichick.

McDaniels will likely need it all this season, considering the autopsy the Broncos are about to undergo. Beyond Orton, the team will have a new starting running back in rookie Knowshon Moreno and wholesale changes on defense, which is being revamped both in the talent base and with a new 3-4 scheme. Indeed, the new regime has wasted little time remaking the roster. With 10 draft picks and 14 new veterans signed in free agency, it’s likely that no team in the NFL will have more new faces on the opening day 53-man roster.

All of which fuels a specific expectation: that McDaniels can succeed where other Patriots assistants, such as Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini, have failed, and transplant the New England model into another NFL team.

“I don’t think that’s unrealistic that Josh can bring it here,” says Broncos running back LaMont Jordan, who spent 2008 with the Patriots. “… No team is more feared or respected than the Patriots. That comes from winning, but I think first and foremost it comes from players buying into the system and then us going out there and doing our jobs. The bottom line, this system is proven. It’s up to the players to go and make it happen. You look at New England the last couple years, they had a tremendous amount of injuries and never lost a step. That’s the mentality of that organization, and I think that’s what Josh is bringing here.”



McDaniels spent eight years with Belichick, left, and the Pats.
(Stephen Savoia/AP Photo)


Certainly, there are elements that are clear to see. He’s extremely detail oriented, to the point where he involves himself in specific teaching. He spent Sunday showing wideouts how and where he expected them to come out of their breaks, working with running backs on their positioning coming out of the backfield, and kept a constant dialogue with his quarterbacks. Meanwhile, he delegated authority, often leaving defensive coordinator Mike Nolan – and his wealth of coaching experience – to drill and manage without someone looking over his shoulder.

“He kind of reminds me of coach [Tony] Dungy that way,” said Broncos defensive end Darrell Reid, who played with the Indianapolis Colts last season. “He checks in, but he lets his coaches do their job.”

And while that transition to the 3-4 and Nolan’s ability to expedite it will be pivotal, there are few illusions about where the microscope will be pointed. It will be hard for the defense to be any worse than it was last season, a point punctuated by the fact that six defensive starters from 2008 – Dre Bly, Dewayne Robertson, Nate Webster, Marquand Manuel, Jamie Winborn and John Engelberger – are still dangling in free agency. But the offense? It returns at full strength and has added a first-round running back. The only thing that appears to be drastically different is the quarterback.

In essence, that will be where ’09 begins and ends. The outside world will be waiting and watching to see whether McDaniels can spin more gold at a position where he helped bring along Tom Brady and Matt Cassel – and whether Orton can assuage the dealing of a 26-year old Pro Bowler who passed for more than 4,500 yards last season. But it’s worth noting that Orton is taking control of something he never had in Chicago – a loaded unit with a two playmaking wideouts, a franchise running back, a marquee tight end and a young and talented offensive line. Whether he can fill Cutler’s shoes, it won’t be for a lack of Cutler’s former arsenal.

“I personally don’t think I’m tied to Jay,” Orton says. “I’m my own player. I feel like I’ve done a lot of great things in the first four years of my career. And now this is a new beginning for me. I look at the situation, and I think I’m going to do even better things for the next five or six years.”

Whether Orton subscribes to it, that measuring stick has been set in place. And the success or failure of both he and McDaniels will undoubtedly be tested against it.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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Good read, makes me all warm and optimistic. Thanks for posting!
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:07 PM   #3
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Really good read, I'm surprised at the dearth of comments. I guess the haters are having trouble coming up with negative things to say.

This part hit home:

It will be hard for the defense to be any worse than it was last season, a point punctuated by the fact that six defensive starters from 2008 – Dre Bly, Dewayne Robertson, Nate Webster, Marquand Manuel, Jamie Winborn and John Engelberger – are still dangling in free agency.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:28 PM   #4
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Good article...I think it hits the nail on the head. There really shouldn't be any excuses. The offense is intact and we've added Moreno. The Defense...can only be improved with the additions we've made both in Free Agency and the Draft. Add to that...what is supposed to be better coaching...and this team should be improved.

So where does that get us? Last year we were 8-8 against a fairly difficult schedule. This year...we have a more difficult schedule...but what should be (without excuses) a better team.

So...what should we expect. I guess...anything from 9-7 to 11-5 would be reasonable...for all these positive changes. Right?
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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"dropping to the earth with the thud of a manhole cover."

Huh?
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:46 PM   #6
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As far as I could tell...people in Chicago were always knocking his lack of accuracy on his deep ball not his arm strength per se.

Something that this article didn't dispel. No kool-aid at work at all

I, for one, can't wait for the real bullets to start flying. The negative articles (Riley et al) and the kool-aid ones (like this and the one ridiculously celebrating the fact that he wants the QB to be in charge in the huddle) are pretty pointless at determining what the Broncos will accomplish on the field this year.

If anything they just depict what a polarizing force McDaniels currently is.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by LittleFloyd View Post
“The distance you throw the ball down the field, to me at times it can be very overrated,” he(McDaniels) said. “I’m worried about accuracy...
Then he has a lot to worry about with Orton, who historically has had poor accuracy 10 yards past the LOS, and only average accuracy inside of that. I guess we will see this year how much receivers dictate the "accuracy" of the QB.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:47 PM   #8
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"dropping to the earth with the thud of a manhole cover."

Huh?
He got bored and tried to spice it up a little. Tried being the key word.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:53 PM   #9
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As far as I could tell...people in Chicago were always knocking his lack of accuracy on his deep ball not his arm strength per se.

Something that this article didn't dispel. No kool-aid at work at all

I, for one, can't wait for the real bullets to start flying. The negative articles (Riley et al) and the kool-aid ones (like this and the one ridiculously celebrating the fact that he wants the QB to be in charge in the huddle) are pretty pointless at determining what the Broncos will accomplish on the field this year.

If anything they just depict what a polarizing force McDaniels currently is.
I think jay's a more talented QB - but the bears receivers aren't good. Cutler will help make them better - but they weren't great by any means. Solid - but noone really stood out.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:06 PM   #10
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Orton and the receivers have no chemistry and timing with each other yet. This is something that will take several reps to develop.

Count me as someone who was also wondering why Orton was throwing a 100lb football.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:20 PM   #11
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Anyone else remember another QB that wasnt all that accurate with the deep ball? Jay Cutler! (he did have that sweet pass to Walker his rookie year, but i wouldnt say being accurate with the deep ball was his specialty)
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:28 PM   #12
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Anyone else remember another QB that wasnt all that accurate with the deep ball? Jay Cutler! (he did have that sweet pass to Walker his rookie year, but i wouldnt say being accurate with the deep ball was his specialty)
I agree. I think where Cutler's arm strength and accuracy would kill was in intermediate throws over the middle through tight windows. He was like a surgeon with those throws. However the long bomb wasn't his forte'. He would usually be off by quite a bit and he often threw it long when he shouldn't. I can think of several times he went for the home run only to have Marshall bracketed by a safety and a corner.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:32 PM   #13
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Problem with Orton isn't physical, it's mental. He falls apart late in games. He can hold it together as a front runner in the first half but that's all.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:35 PM   #14
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Count me as someone who was also wondering why Orton was throwing a 100lb football.
Not only that, he overthrew Royal with it! Orton's the man!
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:39 PM   #15
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Problem with Orton isn't physical, it's mental. He falls apart late in games. He can hold it together as a front runner in the first half but that's all.
His record suggests otherwise.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:44 PM   #16
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You might throw one to two deep ball a game. The rest of the time, it about hitting the intermediate routes within 15 yards for the line of scrimmage. Does Orton have arm strength to make that 12-15 yard out when receiver has defender riding him tight? Because that were true power arms in NFL come into play, not throwing deep balls.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:51 PM   #17
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Then he has a lot to worry about with Orton, who historically has had poor accuracy 10 yards past the LOS, and only average accuracy inside of that. I guess we will see this year how much receivers dictate the "accuracy" of the QB.
Have you watched any Bears games?

Everyone drops passes and runs crappy routes. They are predictable and usually easily defended. Their biggest receiving asset was Matt Forte the running back.

I'm not going to say Orton is a Hall of Famer, but when I watched him play last year I kept seeing dropped passes and poor offensive game plans. The receivers in Chicago just sucked, plain and simple.

I expect Orton's completion to immediately shoot up when he plays games in Denver, and his passing yards will improve with the strong YAC our receivers generally get.

Put that behind our O-line and a potential "feature" running back, and Orton has absolutely no excuses. I expect Orton (or Simms) to have a strong, efficient year as passers.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:53 PM   #18
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Problem with CUTLER isn't physical, it's mental. He falls apart late in games. He can hold it together as a front runner in the first half but that's all.
fixed it for you
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:53 PM   #19
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His record suggests otherwise.
Don't be fooled by a guy being protected by a good defense in a crappy division. His record is a QB rating of 116.1 in the 1st quarter and 65.7 in the 4th. It drops to 62.2 in the 4th when the game is within 7 points.

I think Cutler is a douchebag but his QB rating was 89.4 in the 1st and 94.2 in the 4th.

Ask Bears fans what they think of Orton in the clutch.
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:55 PM   #20
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Don't be fooled by a guy being protected by a good defense in a crappy division. His record is a QB rating of 116.1 in the 1st quarter and 65.7 in the 4th. It drops to 62.2 in the 4th when the game is within 7 points.

I think Cutler is a douchebag but his QB rating was 89.4 in the 1st and 94.2 in the 4th.

Ask Bears fans what they think of Orton in the clutch.
I watched Orton all last season. Plus, you cant single out him as the reason. Their offense SUCKED. Their 1 wideout was Hester! This guy has been a receiver for like 2 seasons. They had a crap o-line and an unimaginitive game plan. I guarentee if Orton starts, he'll improve just by the people around him.

And I dont care about Jay Cutler's rating in the 4th quarter, i've seen him overwhelm himself and throw interceptions enough times to know he's not gonna be John Elway or Joe Montana until he learns to get a hold of his emotions.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:16 PM   #21
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I watched Orton all last season. Plus, you cant single out him as the reason. Their offense SUCKED. Their 1 wideout was Hester! This guy has been a receiver for like 2 seasons. They had a crap o-line and an unimaginitive game plan. I guarentee if Orton starts, he'll improve just by the people around him.

And I dont care about Jay Cutler's rating in the 4th quarter, i've seen him overwhelm himself and throw interceptions enough times to know he's not gonna be John Elway or Joe Montana until he learns to get a hold of his emotions.
Sure the receivers were weak but 19 teams gave up more sacks than the crap o-line you talk about. Orton actually got sacked less in the 4th than any other quarter.

I agree Cutler can be a dumbass spaz, but at least he screws up trying to make a big play. Meanwhile, Orton enters reverse puberty when the game is on the line. Of course Orton will improve with better players around him, but if he didn't have serious fleas, Chicago would have never given up so much to get rid of him.

I can tell Cutler hurt you, but don't let that rebound chick you see in Orton fool you. She's not that hot and soon you'll want to discard her as well.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:22 PM   #22
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Sure the receivers were weak but 19 teams gave up more sacks than the crap o-line you talk about. Orton actually got sacked less in the 4th than any other quarter.

I agree Cutler can be a dumbass spaz, but at least he screws up trying to make a big play. Meanwhile, Orton enters reverse puberty when the game is on the line. Of course Orton will improve with better players around him, but if he didn't have serious fleas, Chicago would have never given up so much to get rid of him.

I can tell Cutler hurt you, but don't let that rebound chick you see in Orton fool you. She's not that hot and soon you'll want to discard her as well.

Im not saying Orton is better than Cutler, i just dont think he's this disgrace that you think he'll be. Chicago's offense was HORRIBLE. And though i dont have stats in front of me, i bet sack numbers are down in the 4th quarter in general as, teams that are down, generally go against a nickle/dime/prevent and teams that are up control the clock.

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Old 05-04-2009, 03:27 PM   #23
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Orton and the receivers have no chemistry and timing with each other yet. This is something that will take several reps to develop.

Count me as someone who was also wondering why Orton was throwing a 100lb football.
Because he's a bad mutha***ah, that's why.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:38 PM   #24
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Don't be fooled by a guy being protected by a good defense in a crappy division. His record is a QB rating of 116.1 in the 1st quarter and 65.7 in the 4th. It drops to 62.2 in the 4th when the game is within 7 points.

I think Cutler is a douchebag but his QB rating was 89.4 in the 1st and 94.2 in the 4th.

Ask Bears fans what they think of Orton in the clutch.
That's because he wanted the game to be over so he could get to the bars.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:50 PM   #25
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It is a gamble. Kyle Orton will be the yard stick by which McD will be measured this season.

Since McD is so big on Orton, I'm giving both Orton and McD him the benefit of a doubt.

It's a high-risk game, but if McD thinks he's found his Brady, it could be a good day for the Broncos.
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