Posted Sat Aug 15th by Josh Temple
Kyle Orton stunk it up when it counted last night and Chris Simms pushed through for a possible win. Even if it was a meaningless preseason game, nothing is meaningless when it comes to the Broncos quarterback situation. I will give credit where it’s due, Orton did a great job of managing the game on the team’s first offensive drive. As the CBS 4 broadcasters stated last night, the 49ers looked confused and bewildered on their defensive assignments. I am a believer in the McDaniel’s passing system converted for the orange and blue. However, when given the chance to go for jugular… the starting QB didn’t get the job done.
A near perfect opening series ends with zero points. Rather than hit an open Peyton Hillis on the goal line he forced a ball inaccurately to Daniel Graham. The defender had better positioning than our tight end for where this pass was headed. Later in the first half, on a 3rd and long Orton was given the tool to succeed by his coaches and wide outs. Where most teams would’ve gone for a shotgun draw delay, a dive over one of the guards, or a dump off to a half back we were going long to keep this drive alive. A great play was called freeing up a wide open Jabar Gaffney on a long post to the left sideline. Orton made the right read, just not the right throw. The ball didn’t have enough lift and was picked off for the third time of the half.
Chris Simms started off the second half with a drive that was eerily similar to number 8’s. Running his offense with precision except he was able to execute where Orton did not, hitting Putzier on drag route for six. Down by seven in the last three minutes Simms made an impressive rollout buying time to the left, his throwing side. He hits a wide open McKinley and the rest is history, another six. McDaniels made the smart call to go for two, take the win or the loss but don’t make your guys deal with overtime in a preseason game. Simms was not able to pull a Cutler a la 2008 Charger game last season, striking the dagger for the winning two, but his comeback was impressive nonetheless. Especially after many of our observations in training camp thus far.
Sitting there watching the closing minutes of last night’s game reminded me all too well of another Broncos preseason game with an a similar result. That result changed the tide of the team’s depth chart for years to come. 1999 preseason, the Broncos had just won their second Super Bowl and John Elway retired. Shanahan had given the starting job to Elway backup Bubby Brister. To quote Shannon Sharpe; Bubby had not “wrecked the Ferrari” the previous season so it was natural for him start the season as the starter. Brister started the preseason terrible, throwing one touchdown in 18 offensive possessions. Come the third game of preseason the Broncos faced off against a mediocre Cowboy team in Dallas. Denver’s offense looked atrocious, it was time to sit the starters down. In comes Brian Griese who wills the teams offense to score. It was the only spark the team had all game even though the Broncos still fell 22-12. That week Griese was named the team’s starter and they easily handled the 49ers 34-3 at home. We all know the tumultuous career Brian had in Denver afterwards, but the point is, these preseason games can be pivotal to the path of a team.
Does this mean McDaniels should name Simms the starter this week and it’s his job to lose moving forward? No. Does he deserve a shot to run the starting offense in a game situation this preseason to make his case as the #1? After last night’s performance, yes. You can be the greatest practice player in the world, if you can’t get it done in a game there is no point. Orton didn’t show the tenacity in game one to be the starter, Simms did. It is up to McDaniels to give each their cracks with the starters to prove their place before the team travels to Cincinnati.