NFL: Orton remains Broncos’ starter at QB
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kyle Orton remains the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback, and Brady Quinn is going to have to unseat him if he wants to be the one under center when the season starts in six months.
“He is our starter. There is no question,” coach Josh McDaniels said of his incumbent at the AFC coaches’ breakfast at Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, reiterating what he’s been saying both privately and publicly since acquiring Quinn from the Cleveland Browns on March 13.
McDaniels said Orton deserves to keep his job based on his performance last season, when he threw for 3,802 yards and 21 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
McDaniels also is making it clear that Orton will have to keep his starting job through performance and continued improvement in his second year in the offense or Quinn, who went 3-9 as Cleveland’s starter, could end up supplanting him.
When Orton was acquired from Chicago last year for Jay Cutler, McDaniels threw open the quarterback competition, then named him the starter in June and Chris Simms his backup.
This time, Orton starts out as the starter.
“I think he deserves that right to come in as the starter,” wide receiver Brandon Stokley said Tuesday after participating in the team’s offseason training program at Dove Valley. “Anything can happen. But he deserves that. He played well enough last year and did enough good things to come into all the OTAs and camp as a starter.”
Orton missed the first week of offseason workouts in Denver while attending the Players Association meetings in Hawaii as the Broncos’ union representative. He has been working out with the team since Friday. He’s the only one of Denver’s five tendered restricted free agents who isn’t skipping the workouts.
A team spokesman said Orton will likely address the media for the first time since Quinn’s acquisition next week.
So, what did McDaniels tell Orton when he was about to trade fullback Peyton Hillis and two draft picks for Quinn, the former Notre Dame star who never flourished in Cleveland?
“I talked to him right then and I told him this is a competitive thing as far as adding competition to any spot on our football team that we could,” McDaniels said.
“This had nothing negative to do with Kyle Orton. We are just trying to improve the competition at every spot,” McDaniels added. “To me, our conversation was quick, and to me, he embraced the concept of competing with another player. I don’t think any player would shy away from that. Certainly, I think that our quarterback room (which includes second-year pro Tom Brandstater) is young and competitive and I think that is a good thing for our football team.”
And what did McDaniels tell Quinn?
“I told him the same thing we tell every player, which is, ’You’ve got to create your own role. What you do on the field, what you do with your opportunities, that’s what’s going to tell us what we need to know and then your role will be created from there,”’ McDaniels said.
A lot has been made of Quinn’s familiarity with McDaniels’ system because his college coach was Charlie Weis, who served as McDaniels’ offensive mentor during his days as an assistant in New England.
“In talking to him a few times, he certainly knows the base of our offense. The terminology is, I would say, very close, not exactly the same,” McDaniels said. “Our offense has evolved since Charlie left in 2004. Charlie’s offense, I’m sure, evolved in a different way. We weren’t together. Not that it veered off path significantly, but I think the basis of the terminology, he probably knows 85 percent of the terms and the words we use and the routes and all those different kinds of things.
“He was coached by the guy that really taught me. I think that’s something that’s going to be a positive for Brady. I don’t think it’s going to feel like a fish out of water. ... Again, I think that’s why it’s a good fit for us, because I think that gives him an opportunity to really go in there and compete and see what he can do. I think that will make our entire quarterback room better.”
McDaniels noted that Orton will not have been in his system for a full year until April 2.
“We are looking forward to his improvement and his progress. He is going to know the offense so much better this time around than he did last year. That’s going to give us more flexibility. It’s going to give him more comfort,” McDaniels said.