The Dude Abides: The truth about Kyle “NeckBeard” Orton

Ask Kyle Orton to shave if you’d like, but, please, stop booing him.

There’s really no good reason for this kind of Raider behavior.  You don’t live in Oakland after all, so don’t trash your QB, wander the streets drunk with firearms, and dress up like a Halloween drag queen on Sundays, all while saying, "I’m just a passionate fan."

Remember, Bronco fans are smarter (and more literate) than this.  And they watch game tape.

That’s right.  Instead of booing Kyle Orton at a training camp practice, I decided to go back and watch every one of Orton’s games from last year.  I also checked out several Patriots games so that I could understand what McDaniels does and how Orton fits into the system.  

Just what does McDaniels see in Orton?  A lot actually.  After looking at all of this game tape, I am quite convinced that Orton is going to thrive under McDaniels, but before I address this, first, some observations about Orton (aside from the neckbeard) and his offense in general:

  • Orton's offensive line and receivers were simply not that good.  I watched over and over again Orton's receivers fail to get separation from defenders.  Moreover, Chicago's tackles were below average at best.  Frequently Orton would have his pocket collapse on both sides at the same time.   This made 3rd and long an extremely difficult down for Orton because his receivers couldn't find space and he could barely get into his drop without pressure.  
  • His arm is just fine.  Forget about all of this garbage about Orton not being able to make all of the throws.  Go back and look at the tape.  He regularly made throws of 30, 40, and 50 yards...each and every game.  On many occasions, just like any NFL QB,  he overthrew his receivers on streak routes.  Yes, his accuracy is not as good on these Level 3 passes, but, honestly, I can´t believe how anyone can say this guy has a weak arm if they simple go back and watch game tape.  In fact, in several of the games, the announcers say right on camera, "Look at the laser Kyle Orton threw to get that ball in there."  And after watching dozens and dozens of Matt Cassel passes, you can rest assured that Orton has a stronger arm than Cassel. 
  • Orton is not mobile and can do a bit better job of shifting within the pocket, but he can read a defense and he can audible.   I was extremely surprised to see Orton walk to the line of scrimmage in the same way Manning and Brady do, patiently survey the defense, point out to his backs and linemen what was coming, and, on many occasions, audible to a better play.  In fact, Orton sometimes used a hard count so the linebackers would reveal their blitz package early.  This allowed him to know where to go with his Level 1 reads.
  • Orton did a good job in the no-huddle and shot-gun.  Certainly, this is not going to come as any surprise to MHR readers, but for proof of this, simply pull up the Philadelphia-Chicago game from last year.  The Bears came out with a no-huddle offense in the first half in order to keep the Eagles from sending in blitz packages.  Orton got to the line of scrimmage, he read the defense, he took the hits, and he torched the Eagles with a variety of Level 1, 2, and 3 passes.  I was surprised to see that the Bears did not take advantage of this no-huddle more often during the season, except in their second meeting with the Vikings.
  • Orton is very accurate in Level 1 & 2 passes.  In particular, he throws Level 1 slants, Level 1 outs, and Level 2 seam passes extremely well.  Chicago did not use a lot of crossing routes (unfortunately), but when they did, Orton did just fine.
  • Orton is a team guy first, doesn't complain, and picks his guys up in the huddle.  On one occasion, during the Tampa Bay game, Orton threw a nice 30 yard post to Devin Hester.  Hester dropped it cold.  Orton didn't go Dan Marino on him.  Instead, Orton was waiting for him at the huddle, patting him on the helmet and encouraging him. During the Atlanta game, Orton thew a nice 30 yard score with 20 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.  All of the coaches and the defensive players were high-fiving and hugging Orton.  It was clear that Orton was was respected and well liked by all of his teammates.  Lastly, Orton took one hell of a pounding last year in the Carolina, Tampa, and Minnesota games.  He kept getting up.  And he didn't complain, despite the fact that his offensive line rarely gave him a comfortable pocket and Jared Allen and Julius Peppers looked liked they were playing against the practice squad.
  • Orton checked down and he looked off the safety when he had a pocket.  When Orton wanted to get to the Level 3 post, he would look off the safety.  Many fans (usually those with tribal tattoos and black and silver face paint) fail to recognize this subtle art.  
  • Orton was a master a finding his running back in the flat and getting rid of the ball quickly.  It's not coincidence that Matt Forte had 63 catches last year.

Now,  what do we know about McDaniels and what he's going to be bringing to Denver with his "Amoeba Offense?" Well, we hear lots of things, but mostly, it has been said the offense is tailored to the strengths of the individual players.  This may very well be, but we are left to speculate.  However, if you go back to the tapes of Patriots games last year, you get a pretty good picture as to why McDaniels wanted Orton to run this system:

  • A LOT of shotgun with 3, 4, and 5 receiver sets in which the QB must check down.
  • A LOT of 1st and 2nd Level passes, particularly from the slot.
  • A LOT of use of the running backs in the passing game.
  • A LOT of bubble screens and running back screens.
  • A LOT of "hot" reads, given that defenses try to stop this system by blitzing.

McDaniels isn't stupid.  What he saw on tape last year was a a guy in Orton, who can do all the five things listed above and do them well.  What he saw is a guy  being misused by the Bears.  And given the receivers and offensive line of the Broncos, what he saw is a guy who is going to surprise the hell out of everyone this year.

If you'll just let him get through a practice or two.

Go Broncos!  And Rock the NeckBeard!

Originally posted at MHR

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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