Outweighing all of that however, is the fact that the same problems still exist, with the addition of sexual assault charges against rookie CB Perrish Cox.
Official word from team sources say that Cox will not start but will be active, meaning he'll probably miss a series or two on the defensive side – the NFL equivalent of a slap on the wrist until things can be figured out in court.
Others officially inactive include Brady Quinn as the 3rd QB, K Matt Prater, S Brian Dawkins, RB Laurence Maroney, S Darcel McBath, FB Spenser Larsen, OL Eroc Olsen and WR Demaryius Thomas…
As far as the kicking game goes, Matt Prater did not even make the trip to the Valley of the Sun due to a severe groin injury. Former Ravens kicker Steven Hauschka, who was signed Saturday morning, will handle all kickoff and field goal duties.
Now, don't you feel better? Nice to have liquor stores open on Sunday…
Be sure to refresh often for all the latest madness
Here's a name you might remember – Eric Decker – then again maybe you don't remember considering he got less field time than the cheerleaders under the McDaniels regime – 81-yards down the sideline on the opening kick raised a few eyebrows. Would have been perfect had the special teams not get flagged for holding.
Typical game day Broncos mistake – Orton will start it on his own 12. Gaffney, Royal and B Lloyd all play out huge through the air. Drive crosses midfield and Orton chips it down to the 15 where it all stalls out on a 3rd and 6 incompetion to Gaffney. Here comes the new guy – Hauschka tanks it off the goalpost but it falls through… In between laughs the Broncos take a commanding 3-0 lead.
(Yes, that was sarcasm)
Cards initial drive almost creates the first turnover of the game = Fitgerald fumbles the pass and Broncos recover just long enough for the challenge flags to fly. Play is overturned and Arizona retains possession. Not that it matters much – drive flames out on their own 40.
Broncos respond with equal incompetence – three and out and it's back to AZ at the 38.
Another tank for the Cards and Orton grab another shot to move the chains from their own 26. Moreno on the ground, back to back grabs the first. Three more for Moreno off tackle – Orton on the drop back – underthrows Royal and it's a near pick…That marks five straight incompletions for KO – Studesville calls time to regroup on third and seven… That apparently doesn't work - out of the shotgun – Orton unloads it into the arms of AZ CB Michael Adams who returns it deep in Broncos territory. Four plays later Jay Feeley finds the range from 36 and it's all tied at 3-3… Not sure, but I think this is what they call a barn-burner.
If you've made it this far through the blog you obviously have a sense of humor – which helps considerably. After hitting midfield on what appeared to be a semi-successful drive the Broncos implode on third and three with a reverse to Royal – trapped in the backfield the ball squirts out of his hands and AZ swarms on it. Back to back turnovers for Denver.
Like I said, it helps to have a sense of humor – no matter who you're rooting for in this one… AZ continues to tank offensively and after another three and out Graham is brought back out to punt – trapping Denver on their own four.
First comes to a close with Orton and Co. scrambling to try and not make any mistakes…
Don't hold your breath.
After getting slammed deep in their own territory Denver's drive sizzles and Colquitt is forced to kick from the end zone on fourth and 12. Broncos continue to dig themselves deeper – the question is whether or not AZ can capitalize on the mistakes.
Question answered – albeit minimally. Cards stall out on the Broncos 30 and it's Feeley to the rescue – AZ pulls ahead 6-3 and the crowd continues the madness.
Broncos take the kick at their own 25 and look determined to move the chains. Ground game is about the only thing working right now – two more incompletes for Orton. Out of the shot gun – straight to Decker headed downfield – ball pops loose on contact and that's the third consecutive turnover for the Broncos…challenge flags fly but the play is upheld – it's the Cardinals ball on the AZ 41.
Can't believe I'm still sober at this point…
If AZ had the nads to take advantage of Denver's mistakes they'd probably be up by triple digits for the half. As it is, they manage to barely cross midfield before they're forced to punt.
Orton gets another crack to narrow the gap. On the ground to Moreno picks up seven – toss to Moreno adds another seven and they're making a move. Back in the air to Gaffney tacks on another 11 and the crowd grows quiet.
Quiet right up until Orton decides to toss out his second interception of the half, this one to Cards FS Kerry Rhodes who returns it to the Broncos 24. From there it's all AZ – pulling out all the stops it's Jay Feeney on the highlight reel, faking the field goal and racing untouched into the end zone for the Cards first touchdown in nine quarters – AZ leads 13-3 with just under 4:00 in the half.
How embarrassing can it get?
You might want to forget about that nads comment…
Six plays lead down to the two-minute warning and the Broncos manage a grand total of 14-yards. Colquitt grabs a little more TV time and the Cardinals will close out the half with one more opportunity to bury McBungle's band of misfits.
Consider them buried - Feeley splits it from 55 out and the Cardinals head into the locker room with a sweet 16-3 lead.
The Cardinals? Yes, the Cardinals... get used to it Denver - the countdown to 2011 has officially begun.
Best thing the Broncos could do right now is break out Tebow in the second half - but when was the last time the Broncos did anything you'd consider right?
This one's turning ugly – Skelton's moving the chains and the Cards first possession of the half has already crossed midfield – getting schooled by a rookie QB like Skelton is inexcusable. Ten plays, 72-yards and it's back to Feeley for his fourth field goal of the game. Toss in the lone AZ touchdown and Feeley is responsible for every single point the Cardinals have put on the board… unreal - Broncos trail 19-3.
Check paragraph one – remember Eric Decker? Dude just popped a 51-yard return and the Broncos get some decent field position. No go for Tebow time – Orton remains under center – end result the chains are moving… somewhat.
Orton hits a roadblock at the 23 and it's up to the ‘new guy' to make his mark. Ok, mark made – Hauschka floats it wide right heads back to the bench to brush up his resume. Continue to be amazed at how bad this team really is…
Main goal of the Broncos defense – keep Jay Feeley OFF THE FIELD… Mission accomplished – Cards drive just past midfield before the door closes. Royal fields the punt and the Broncos get another shot at respectability.
One pass, one run and one incompletion – so much for respectability, it all amounts to three and out and another Colquitt punt – this one muscles it way 60-yards (one of the lone bright spots of the afternoon). AZ will take it on the Cards 41.
There is a God – Skelton plays it tough and moves it down to the Broncos 31 before bringing out his gunslinger. Feeley lines it up, smiles at the camera and promptly shanks it wide left… Score remains the same 19-3 Cards in a laugher.
Broncos respond with their shortest drive of the day – four seconds. Orton and Moreno botch the handoff and the fumble is immediately recovered by Cards DE Calais Campbell. For those of you counting that makes FIVE Denver Broncos turnovers – AZ will start the madness on their own 40.
Third closes out as AZ faces third and two from the Broncos 31 – I can hardly wait to see what's next…
Fourth and two? Who else? Jay Feeney, and the onslaught continues - splitting it down the middle – Cards are on top 22-3. Promotion doesn't feel so good now, does it Coach? Believe me, I feel for you.
Broncos initial drive of the final quarter amount to absolutely nothing – three and out with a false start penalty thrown in for good measure – this is painful.
Wait – I take it back, Cards fumble it – Broncos recover – this could be the turning point – the time when everyone gets on the same page and… nevermind. Drive stalls out at the Cards 12 and they're forced to settle for three from Hauschka. Broncos trail 22-6.
I swear I'm bleeding internally.
Cards continue to roll from the 21 and Skelton's mixing it up – Broncos defense looking lost at times – which, come to think of it, is nothing new. AZ's moving the chains – ground game is tearing it up – Hightower busts out a beautiful 41-yard carry then seals the deal taking it in the final eight for the score… Way too wicked – Broncos now trail it 29-6…
Too little, too late – but it's in the books. Orton engineers an uninspiring 7 play, 71-yard drive that closes out with a Knowshon Moreno one-yard plunge up the middle. Broncos side of the scoreboard hits double-digits for the first time all game – AZ on top 29-13 (like it matters at this point).
This is comical – onside kick blows up in their face and the Cardinals will start it on the Broncos 41-yard line. Three plays later it's Hightower making a mockery of Denver's ability to tackle, thirty-five yards and even I'm feeling embarrassed, 36-13 will do that to you.
So will 43-13, and that's exactly where we stand after Orton tosses up a duck under pressure that's picked by Cards LB Daryl Washington and returned 40-yards for the score. Two-minutes and forty two seconds later the torture comes to a close…
Broncos slide to 3-10, looking more confused than ever – this one isn't on Studesville – this one's on a 53-man roster assembled by the dearly departed McDaniels. Three weeks short of two seasons and this is what it's boiled down to.
Getting schooled by 3-9 Cardinals team with a rookie backup QB, rolling out six turnovers and generally playing with as much enthusiasm as a teenager doing calculus.
That's got to feel less than pleasant.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter - Facebook or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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