The Denver Broncos just lost their fourth consecutive game, and quarterback Kyle Orton(notes) has been dreadful in the last two. He finished with a passer rating of just 27.1 on Sunday, the lowest number we've seen from him since his amusing rookie year. Orton hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Week 12 (a home loss to St. Louis), and he's completed just 40.6 percent of his attempts over the past two games.
Orton is still on pace to finish the year with 4,500 yards and 25 TDs, thanks to his insane first half, and you might assume that Denver fans wouldn't judge him too harshly. On the endless list of things that have gone wrong for the 2010 Broncos, you won't find Orton's name until you reach page six or seven.
But still, the fans (and the Denver media) have seen enough. They're demanding to see Tim Tebow(notes) at the controls of the offense, even if it ruins the playoff plans of thousands of fantasy owners. The Broncos have the NFL's worst pass defense on the schedule in Week 16 (Houston, 287.4 YPG), and some of you were no doubt expecting a big line from, say, Orton or Brandon Lloyd(notes). If Tebow takes the wheel, we won't know what to expect. He's thrown (and completed) just one pass this year, a 3-yard score to Spencer Larsen(notes).
Following the Week 14 loss at Arizona, Tebow was asked how he'd feel if he didn't see action in Denver's three remaining games. "It would be a lost opportunity," he apparently said.
Not exactly an Orton endorsement or a team-first sentiment, but OK. The guy wants to play. Fine. Broncos interim head coach Eric Studesville (pictured) can't win here — literally, he cannot win on the field with this team, nor can he win the public relations battle if Orton is his quarterback.
"We are going to look at everything," said Studesville, when questioned about a potential QB change.
The fantasy community awaits his ruling … although it seems fairly obvious that Tebow decisions won't be made exclusively by an interim coach. Any decision regarding this particular player's usage can affect global markets, US retail sales, military strategy, religious doctrine — all aspects of human culture, basically. And once you go Tebow, you can't go back. Please, let's just wait until Week 17.
• Tampa Bay's defense entered Week 14 without CB Aqib Talib(notes) (hip, IR) and S Cody Grimm(notes) (leg, IR). Then in the win at Washington, DT Gerald McCoy(notes) and LB Quincy Black(notes) were lost for the season. And then overnight, LB Geno Hayes(notes) was arrested and tased, due to alleged disorderly conduct. (That link is worth a minute of your time, promise). The Bucs close the season with games against Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans, in case you're interested in picking on this weakened D.
• Antonio Gates(notes) was inactive in the Chargers' decisive win over KC, and he's no lock to face San Francisco on Thursday night, either. Here are the essential quotes, from the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“I’ve always been week to week, up and down,” Gates said. “Over time I’m going to have make a decision … Does it make it difficult for the coaches to put the proper gameplan together? I don’t know. I think that’s something we will definitely talk about this week.
“I’m going to take another look at it, see how I feel going into this Thursday night game. If not, I’m going to try to get an estimate how much time I need to get back healthy. If that’s two weeks, four weeks, that remains to be seen whether or not I should make some decision about finishing the season or continuing to try to fight through this injury.”
• In all likelihood, we won't have clarity on the status of Aaron Rodgers(notes) (concussion) until much later in the week. He'll need to be medically cleared before returning to the field, per the league's usual process. As Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said after the Week 14 loss, "I can't really measure the level of his concussion right now. … It's something that he'll go through the normal protocol. I was told that his head his clear and he has a headache. He was kind of groggy after those two plays he stayed in there, so that's when we had the decision to pull him."
• Ben Roethlisberger(notes) reportedly suffered a minor ankle injury in Week 14, while taking his usual beating. The ankle issue is not expected to impact his availability for the home match-up with the Jets next week.
• There are actually a few surprises in this week's Rams Report Card, at least if you're the sort of grader who considers a "C" to mean "satisfactory." And they picked an odd week to give Steven Jackson a relatively high mark (B+, despite the fumble and the goal line stuffs).
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