We interrupt the ongoing claims that Kyle Orton can't play football to bring you a different perspective. Sports Illustrated ran a sensible article today, courtesy of Jim Trotter. Here's a partial quote:
"Kyle Orton's biggest adjustment since his arrival in Denver five months ago in the Jay Cutler trade hasn't been to learn a playbook that's thicker than Paula Deen's Southern twang. No, the former Bear's biggest adjustment has been to ignore the stopwatch in his head each time he drops back to pass."
In Chicago, Orton says, "we were a three-step passing team. If my first read wasn't there, I had to get rid of it." In Denver, where the Broncos have one of the league's top tackle tandems in Ryan Clady on the left and Ryan Harris on the right, the pass protection is so good that Orton will have the chance to look to his second and third reads and possibly come back to his primary receiver. "Here, I've got so much time," he says. "It was hard for me to make that change in my mind."
But insofar as the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, most of the scrutiny will be on Orton, a fourth-round pick of the Bears in 2005. The biggest knock on him is that he lacks the arm strength to stretch the field, although that wasn't apparent during one practice, when he overthrew speedy Eddie Royal on a deep post.
"Perception in this league is kind of comical," says Orton. "I can make every throw I ever need to make. We were in a running offense in Chicago that let the defense win games. [My statistics] might not have been what some of the other guys were putting up, but we won a lot of football games and did some good things."
First-year coach Josh McDaniels studied Orton extensively before bringing him in. What he saw was a player who was 21-12 as a starter despite throwing nearly as many interceptions (25) as touchdown passes (27) and who won an NFC North title in one of his two seasons as a full-time No. 1. He also saw that Orton was strong in one critical area in which Cutler and the Broncos struggled last season: red-zone turnovers. During his career Orton has thrown 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions inside the opponents' 20-yard line, while the Cutler-led Denver offense tied for the league lead with seven red-zone turnovers (four interceptions, three fumbles) last season."
It's nice to read an analysis of the situation that sticks to some facts and provides some insight into the situation. I completely understand when some fans are still hanging on to the argument that Jay Cutler shouldn't have been traded - it bothers the heck out of them. I think that they're got every right to complain. Even so, continuing to repeat a story that Orton can't throw a 25 yard pass when he's already thrown a 40 yards TD pass is pointless. For what it's worth - being angry about on thing isn't a license to keep claiming something that's just false.
It's also nice to garner some football knowledge. Chicago's three step drop wasn't what we'll be running this year (which is one reason that we're not running a true West Coast Offense, by the way, for some of those who have asked) so there's no reason to keep suggesting that the playbooks will be similar. I wish the Broncos - including their quarterback and coach - all the best in the coming season.