Can Kyle Orton Lead Buffalo to the Playoffs?
Youth. Mistakes. Bad reads. Slow release. Bad decisions. Backup.
These are the words I can only assume the Buffalo Bills had in mind when evaluating E.J Manuel at this point of his career. Drafted 16th overall prior to the 2013 season, the Bills obviously felt he was given every opportunity to make it work. Yet it was still a surprise that they chose to sit their young quarterback in favour of career-backup Kyle Orton. Many felt E.J would continue to be given more of an opportunity to lock down the job. Which can only mean one thing - the Bills feel that this division is for the taking. You know what? The Bills are right.
The starting line up the Bills put onto the field is extremely formidable. Especially that defense. That defensive line may very well be the best in the league. Yet the one position that has let this team down happens to be the most important. Does that change with Orton under center?
Sammy Watkins recently came out and stated that Orton got the ball out quicker, which gives his weapons a chance to make plays. If this is the case, we can expect the Bills to complete more passes, move the chains, and put up more points. If they can do that, this defense is certainly good enough to put teams away.
The most important attribute Orton brings to the fold is his experience. He may not have been a stellar player throughout his career, but he's seen plenty. That experience means he doesn't need to force things like his predecessor was accustomed to doing. All the Bills need from Orton is patient, clean football. The question is - can Orton deliver that?
History tells us he can. The last time Orton played more then five games in a season he threw 20 touchdowns to only 9 picks in 13 games. The season before he threw 21 touchdowns to 12 picks in 16 games. His completion rate across both seasons was over 60%. His QBR over that time was 51,4. Manuel's QBR up to this point this season sits at 19.8.
Judging Orton over his time as a backup at Dallas would be unfair. He came in at tough spots, generally when Dallas was either out of the game or had it wrapped up. His opportunity with the Bills is that of a starter, and now has the chance to make this his team. He has possibly the best rookie wide receiver in the league in Sammy Watkins, a dynamic C.J Spiller, and a defense that can give him plenty of short fields to work with. With the Patriots rapidly declining, and the Dolphins and Jets not exactly looking like world beaters, the Bills have a chance to claim a division that has been Patriot dominated for the last decade. So the question is, can Kyle Orton be the one to lead them there? I say a resounding yes.
What do you say?