Broncos players irked by QB debate

Updated: September 14, 2011, 1:38 PM ET
By Josina Anderson | ESPN

It's the Kyle Orton vs. Tim Tebow debate all over again, and it's already bothering some of their teammates.

"I think it's all B.S.," Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I think everybody is just waiting for an opportunity to move (Orton) out and play anybody other than him."

Despite fighting back for a bid to win late in the fourth quarter Monday in a game lost only by a field goal, many fans in Denver aren't feeling their starting quarterback and they're giving him a short leash.

"That's the circumstances that we're in. That's the climate that we're in, and we knew we were going to be in -- so be it. There's no being patient with Kyle. Kyle is ready to go. He didn't perform maybe as well as people expected him to. Whatever. He's our quarterback, and we're going to eventually win games," Lloyd said.

Even though Orton was among 14 quarterbacks who threw for more than 300 yards in Week 1, the John Fox-John Elway Era has started in defeat, 23-20 to the rival Oakland Raiders.

Fox on Tuesday said he was sticking with Orton as his quarterback. He also said there was plenty of blame to go around for starting 0-1.

"We came up a little short. There were plenty of reasons why. It wasn't just the quarterback by any stretch," Fox said. "Kyle is our starting quarterback and I don't think too many guys are firing all their guys because their team happened to lose in Week 1."

Put into context within their recent history -- the Broncos haven't made the playoffs since the 2005 season and have gone 6-20 since Josh McDaniels' tenure started 6-0 -- more critics outside of Colorado are taking notice.

"We knew it was going to be this kind of environment surrounding (Orton) and whatever is going on," Lloyd said. "If (Orton) wins, we're all geniuses. If we lose, put in someone else. It's not new in sports. So this tactic that the media is taking is not new."

Despite fans clamoring loudly for Tebow late in the fourth quarter, some of his teammates don't expect Fox to make a change.

"I don't think anything is going to change with our depth chart," linebacker Joe Mays said via phone Tuesday. "I don't think that they're going to bring Tebow in. We just have to execute with what we have."

Both Tebow and Brady Quinn are listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.

But Orton's Week 1 struggles, when he ranked as the 26th-rated passer with only 24 of 46 passes completed and one touchdown and one interception, has impatient fans pondering what the follow-up will be. He also fumbled the ball away without getting hit when his tight end was open in the end zone for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

Hunter Kyle is our starter. He's a human being just like we all are. Sometimes things don't go the way that you want them to go, but you can't just be so quick to jump ship. (Kyle) is going to bounce back and everybody is going to be happy.

-- Linebacker Jason Hunter on critics
calling for Orton's relegation to the bench

"Do you want Kyle to complete all those throws? Absolutely," Broncos linebacker Mario Haggan said. "Is he human? Yes, he is. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes, he is, and he did. So that's what we have to live with."

During this preseason, Tebow completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 310 yards, and finished with a 108.3 quarterback rating. Yet, despite being sacked seven times under a variety of circumstances, many of Tebow's fans point out his 31 pass attempts, in comparison to the 42 Brady and Orton each had in the same period.

"Would it have been different? We don't know, he didn't play," Haggan said on whether Monday night's outcome would have been any different if Tebow had played. "Obviously (Tebow) is more of a runner than Kyle, but I think Kyle also did some things good last night. At this point, Coach Fox says Kyle is our starter and we're not going to stir up controversy until Coach Fox says differently.

"If the coaches feel Tim Tebow is needed, they will use him. That is the same for any position and quarterback is no different."

Broncos players said they are eager to atone for their efforts against Oakland when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

In the meantime, linebacker Jason Hunter sent a message to Broncos faithful to keep their spirits high and emotions steady.

"Just be patient," Hunter said. "It's just the beginning of the season. Kyle is our starter. He's a human being just like we all are. Sometimes things don't go the way that you want them to go, but you can't just be so quick to jump ship."

"(Kyle) is going to bounce back and everybody is going to be happy."

Josina Anderson covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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