When Broncos executive vice president John Elway released Kyle Orton in November, he knew this day might come.
Orton will head to Denver in Week 17 with a chance to potentially knock the Broncos out of the playoffs. Denver has lost two straight games by a combined score of 81-37.
“We knew obviously with the situation where some teams had quarterbacks go down – Kansas City being one of them and Chicago being one of them – that if he was gonna get claimed there was a chance we could play against him,” Elway told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports last week. “It was like, ‘Well, we’ll take that chance …’”
When Elway spoke to Silver, the Hall of Famer talked hopefully that the Broncos clinch the division in Buffalo. But Saturday’s blowout loss to a team on a seven-game losing streak has raised doubts whether Denver is a good team or just a team that rode a lucky streak.
“We knew [facing Orton] was a possibility,” Elway said Saturday via Mike Klis of the Denver Post. “So, here it is. We have to go out there and play well. It was best for the team, bottom line. We made that decision knowing this was a possibility. Now we have to do it.”
The matchup has to make the Broncos brass a little nervous. Elway will be second guessed all offseason if cutting Orton blows up in his face. A third straight loss to end the season would raise new questions about Tim Tebow’s long-term viability.
Broncos coach John Fox was defiant when asked about Orton visiting.
“I think [the Chiefs] just did us a huge favor,” Fox said Saturday.
Fox is apparently referring to the fact that the Broncos could now lose in Week 17 and still make the playoffs. That’s a surprising angle for a head coach to take after his most embarrassing loss of the year.
Of course, this entire soap opera of a season for the Broncos has included one surprise after another.
Facing Orton is a worthy next episode. Denver just hopes it’s not the finale.