When Should Josh McDaniels Pull the Plug on Kyle Orton?

Rick OliverCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 14:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos reacts after throwing his third interception of the game against the San Francisco 49ers during the preseason game on August 14, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Much has been said about Kyle Orton’s performance in the Denver Broncos' preseason game against San Francisco. And to be sure it was bad. Anything good Orton did was negated by the three interceptions.

For the most part, Broncos fans seem to be willing to excuse this performance and by a fair margin continue to support Orton as the starter. I agree with this assessment.

The question is at what point does coach Josh McDaniels make a switch?

It is obvious that Orton is McDaniels’ first choice. Even after telling us that he would take as much time as necessary to select the starter, Orton was named early on. Clearly McDaniels saw something in Orton that he liked.

Though I have not witnessed it first hand, many have commented on how good Orton has looked in camp. Some of this is based purely in optimism, but he also showed some positive signs in the San Francisco game.

The performance of Chris Simms, or any other backup player, also needs to be put into perspective. Playing against lesser competition, he should look good. The pressure of being number one is also squarely on Orton’s shoulders.

I think Orton deserves a shot at redemption. I also think he needs to make the most of his shot. If he has another outing like last Friday, McDaniels will have to seriously consider his options. Unfortunately Simms is our only other option at this point

We can tell ourselves it is preseason and the games don’t matter. This is true of the outcome but not true of individual performances.

We can tell ourselves that it takes time to develop the timing and chemistry. We also have to admit that this should be nearly accomplished by the second preseason game.

The bottom line is that for the Broncos to have the season we are hoping for Kyle Orton has to be successful. If Simms becomes the better option then it is McDaniels' obligation to play him. But to pretend that the Broncos will be better because of it is a fallacy.