Denver's O-Line will be key for Jay Cutler

Updated: November 28, 2006, 12:52 PM ET
By Jason Langendorf | ESPN.com
Amid a series of unfortunate events -- namely, too many crummy decisions -- Jake Plummer was given more rope by his boss than some countries' defense secretaries. And that's why Plummer, starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos as recently as Sunday, woke up Tuesday morning as "Jake the Clipboard Holder."

For the first three months of the season, his benching was a move that always seemed to be just around the corner. So why did Mike Shanahan wait so long? Because Denver looked like a potential Super Bowl contender before the season, and real Super Bowl contenders don't start rookie quarterbacks. Because Plummer has won more than a few games for the Broncos and deserved the benefit of the doubt. But when it became clear that quarterback play was more a part of the problem than part of the solution, Shanahan might have stuck with Plummer just a bit longer still for another reason: the offense.

See, rearranging all of the Xs and Os of an NFL scheme in the middle of a battle for a division title in late November is, shall we say, difficult. And because so much of what the Broncos do -- and how well they do it -- is tied to Plummer's mobility, the job becomes doubly tough. Rollouts, bootlegs and throws on the run are staples of Denver's offense, and the play fakes that are an overlooked weapon in Plummer's arsenal are as vital to the team's celebrated run game as they are to the passing game.