October 26, 2009
ENGLEWOOD • His statistics don’t show it, but Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton hasn’t really thrown a conventional interception this season. The lone blemish on his official record was a Hail Mary last second before halftime pass that was caught by, of all people, New England receiver Randy Moss.
Putting Orton’s great start into perspective, he has practically lapped the NFL field. Four teams have thrown three interceptions, one team (Green Bay) has thrown two, and the Broncos are the only team to throw one or less.
Carolina has thrown 14 in six games and five other teams have thrown at least 10, including Chicago and their quarterback, former Bronco Jay Cutler. Cutler threw three interceptions Sunday in less than 14 minutes of game action.
Not only is Orton far ahead of his peers, he is on pace to have the second-lowest percentage of passes intercepted in a season in NFL history. And, he hasn’t lost a fumble either.
So what is the secret to Orton’s streak? As usual, he wanted to credit his teammates.
“It’s not just the quarterback, it’s the entire offense going without an interception,” Orton said.
Orton brought up some examples. Against San Diego, a team that likes to bat passes down, the offensive line did a good job keeping defenders’ hands down. Also, receivers have been sure handed, which has saved Orton from any tipped interceptions.
Mostly, Orton deserves credit. He has had some close calls, including a near-interception against Dallas that was actually caught for a touchdown by Knowshon Moreno, but there haven’t been too many near misses.
Physically, Orton’s best attribute is good accuracy and the arm strength to complete the short and intermediate passes the Broncos ask him to throw. Mostly, his error-free ways are because of his mental approach. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said he has been impressed with how Orton has quickly digested information on each opponent.
“Kyle has always been a smart guy,” McDaniels said. “You could see that very clearly on the film, any film. Put on any film of Kyle Orton and you will see a smart football player.”
The system has helped, too. Orton threw 30 touchdowns and 27 interceptions during his career with the Bears. In Denver, the Broncos like to spread the ball around, so Orton is never supposed to force a pass.
“It comes down to decision making,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “We talk about, ‘You have to trust what we’re telling you. Each week, we’re going to go in there with a game plan, we’re going to give you a scouting report, a coverage report on how they play certain things, read certain keys, and you have to believe what we’re telling you.’ ”