The longer this drags on, the more nervous we become. There are other teams who need a quarterback, and the admittedly un-flashy Orton is still only 28, with three straight 20TD 1oINT seasons under center. The hold-up may be money. It could be compensation. It could be length of the deal. Whatever the case, this wait is giving us what scholars call “the whim whams”.
Why are the stakes so high? After all, Orton certainly isn’t the second coming of Peyton Manning. Well, in the broader sense, it of course ties into the yearning for a studly slinger ever since Marino hung up his mighty cleats. A 280ypg, 21TD, 9INT season is nothing to sneeze at. The guy managed to move the ball very well, scored his share of touchdowns, and perhaps most importantly, protected the ball. No one will ever replace Danny Boy, but if Kyle could continue playing 20TD/10INT ball we could remove QB from the top of our offseason question mark list for the first time in modern history.
But aside from the long term picture, let’s take a quick look at the immediate, theoretical (yes, we realize that none of this is an exact science) impact of a Henne/Orton switcheroo, based on 2010.
Take Chad Henne, add 5 TDs, subtract 9 INTs, add 50 yards per game, add 17 deep balls, and you end up with Kyle Orton.
We were one game under .500 last season. I count five losses by one score or less. How many would-be scoring drives were killed by a Henne pick? How many times did Henne check down where Orton may have gambled and won on a deep ball?
If any one player can turn a win into a loss, or vice versa, it’s the guy under center. We’ve got a rising defense (6th overall in 2010), with essentially a bonus first rounder Odrick back in the mix. We’ve got an All-Pro wideout flanked by a slot receiving Jedi. We’ve added intriguing playmakers to our rookie haul. We’ve made moves to stabilize our running game and o-line. Our holes seem to be growing fewer and fewer. But if quarterback becomes our lone remaining hole, it could still be plenty big enough to trip us up.
Here’s to a fruitful negotiation with Athletes First, Orton’s reps, who are undoubtedly haggling with Jeff Ireland right now, just a few miles down the road from The Bottlenose’s secret Left Coast lair. Get it done, gentlemen.
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