Offense struggles early

The Denver Broncos' new offense and their new quarterback haven't been a huge early hit with fans.

More than 13,000 people came out to watch a scrimmage at Invesco Field at Mile High on Aug. 6, and grew restless as the night went on and quarterback Kyle Orton struggled. Orton threw a pair of interceptions to cornerback Andre' Goodman and didn't throw the deep ball well. Broncos fans got used to Jay Cutler making every throw on the field with his strong arm.

By the time Orton misfired on a pair of incompletions, throwing wide on back-to-back plays to Chad Jackson and Jabar Gaffney, in a two-minute drill, the fans started booing him.

"Fans can cheer, they can boo," Orton said. "We have good fans. They're passionate about their football, that's for sure."

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels did not blame Orton, backing the quarterback he named as the team's starter back in June. He said Orton was short on one deep pass, but there were other factors for the interceptions and incomplete passes.

"Kyle did fine," McDaniels said Friday, after reviewing the video. "There's a couple plays, obviously, we could have had back. But he made no more mistakes, certainly, than anybody else did."

Orton will have many chances in the preseason to win the Broncos' crowd over before the regular-season opener. Although he hasn't thrown the deep ball very well during camp, the Broncos probably won't ask him to do that very often. He has been pretty good with timing patterns, hitting receivers and backs on underneath routes and crossing patterns. Part of what the coaching staff preaches is playing to the strengths of their players at all positions, and the quarterback position will be part of that.

"Our job is to do what our guys do best," offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. "The coaching staff will determine what we feel will give us the best chance to win."

McDaniels is under plenty of pressure from the Broncos fans, taking over for Mike Shanahan and then trading Cutler to Chicago after a public feud. He was hired for his work with New England's offense the past few years. His offense is complicated, and so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise it isn't humming along smoothly quite yet. Receivers have detailed reads based on the defensive look they see, and it will take some time for the quarterbacks and receivers to be on the same page, although nobody on the team thinks that is a problem at this point.

McDaniels said he isn't worried about the progression of the offense. He thinks the players are as far along as could be expected after only a few months of intense teaching. He said during the scrimmage, the offense was very close to being where it needs to be.

"It's encouraging to see a practice (Thursday) night where there's a bunch of mistakes, but see how close to doing the right thing they really are," McDaniels said.



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