Orton no longer below the radar

After hitting a flat-line while going 0-for-5 in the red zone against the Colts in Week 3, Denver quarterback Kyle Orton cracked the code against the league’s No. 1-ranked red zone defense a week later. While squaring off against the feisty Titans defense on Sunday, Orton find a way to squeeze two passes into the end zone for touchdowns.

With a league-low average of 2.5 yards per rushing attempt, the Broncos needed Orton to carry the offense against a Titans secondary that had allowed only one touchdown pass in their first three games. Prior to the game, Orton told me that he and his receivers needed to improve their red-zone passing by quickly responding with fast-trigger throws that require his pass catchers to be ready for the ball coming out much faster than normal. One quick pass to WR Eddie Royal, and then another to RB Correll Buckhalter, allowed Orton to strike gold with two touchdowns in six red-zone possessions.

If Orton isn’t becoming an elite QB, then what are we to make of his 107 pass attempts over the last two games? His 1,419 yards are second most in NFL history after the first four games of a season. All of this without the presence of a worthwhile running game is simply remarkable.

Once flying under the radar, Orton has fought off the competition of Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn to lead what is now the NFL’s No. 1-ranked passing attack. As both the Broncos’ leading passer and rusher on Sunday, Orton was beat up, battered and bruised for six sacks by the Titans, but still had enough left to win.

Orton doesn’t get enough credit for what he does, and his gaudy numbers overshadow a gutsy performance during the first month of the season. If he keeps playing like this, Orton will no longer be known as a footnote to the Jay Cutler trade of 2009, but rather as a Mile High headliner who is surpassing records once owned by the iconic John Elway.

Is he really that good? I think so …

— Solomon Wilcots

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