Orton or Cassel?


Posted Nov 25, 2011


With the acquisition of Kyle Orton off waivers, Arrow-Heads, the Kansas City Chiefs may have just changed the outcome of this season.

I’m not saying Orton is the long term answer but I’ll explain why shortly.

I believe Matt Cassel has taken his last snap as the starting quarterback for Kansas City. Cassel has shown the lack of consistency I was afraid of. He was not able to put together any type of complete game at any time this season.

Sure the Chiefs went on a four-game winning streak but honestly, it was a fluke. As I outlined in several previous articles, the lack of consistency in all three phases of the game is what originally doomed this season.

Sitting at 4-6 in the basement with the Bolts, until Wednesday, I felt that this team put itself back in the race for a high draft pick in 2012.

Until Wednesday, with Cassel on injured reserve and Tyler Palko in the driver’s seat, this season was out of reach.

When Kyle Orton hit the waiver wire on Tuesday, there was much speculation on where he would end up. I think he really wanted to end up in Chicago with the potential season-ending injury to Jay Cutler and his agent David Dunn was hopeful that was where he would end up.

I had some interesting conversations with a couple of NFL insiders and they speculated that if the Chiefs were interested in salvaging this season, they may put a claim in.

I really didn’t think Scott Pioli would pull the trigger, perhaps preferring to see what Palko and Ricky Stanzi could produce before draft considerations came. I wasn’t really surprised when Pioli made the move given the fact that Cassel was already out.

I tried to analyze his reasoning and here is what I came up with:

Two things come to mind comparing Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel. The first is they are, statistically, the same quarterback.

Orton has started 67 games. He has attempted 1,225 passes and completed 2,107. That’s a 59.1 percent completion rate. On his completions he’s gained 13,753 yards. He has 79 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. His career QB rating is 79.4.

Cassel has started 69 games. He has attempted 1,042 passes and completed 1,767. That’s a 59.0 percent completion rate. On his completions he’s gained 11,699 yards. He has 76 touchdowns and 45 interceptions. His career QB rating is 82.5.

They are both 29 years old. Both are 6-foot-4. Orton weighs 225 pounds and Cassel weighs 230 lbs. So why did Pioli pull the trigger on putting a claim on Orton when he hit the wire on Tuesday?

For the exact reason I just illustrated. Orton is healthy, he has some gas left in the tank and he’s the same quarterback Cassel is. Once he learns the offense, he will be able to execute it efficiently.

From a business perspective, a starting quarterback like Orton is a bargain for the last six games of the regular season. He may not take a snap on Sunday night, but he will be ready for the Bears on December 4. He’ll have a nice five-game audition going into the offseason.

His time in Denver with Josh McDaniels, who many consider to be a quarterback guru, was fraught with missteps and personality conflicts. He didn’t want to be there originally and when McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow, the fireworks began. When McDaniels was fired and John Elway was hired and subsequently John Fox hired as head coach, the writing was on the wall.

Most of you remember how that whole fiasco began with the trade of Jay Cutler to the Bears with Orton and a few draft picks coming to the Broncos. McDaniels’ attempt to trade for Cassel with New England was derailed when Pioli was able to snag him and McDaniels was left sucking his thumb.

Personally, I was never enamored with the trade for Cassel. I thought Pioli had some inside information that would suddenly make sense to me once Cassel got to Kansas City and last season I thought Pioli may have the last laugh.

At the beginning of this season, with no OTAs, the lack of any real preseason and the ridiculous training camp that Todd Haley put on, I had a feeling we would now see the real Matt Cassel.

My fears were realized when the Chiefs went 0-3 to start the season. A chance at redemption during their four-game tear went for nothing the next three games. The real Cassel was back.

Whether you agree with me or not, the results bear the opinion. The Kansas City Chiefs may be no better off with Kyle Orton but he may just generate a different dynamic that could spark the Chiefs to finish the season on a high note.

In Denver, Orton was a polarizing figure. One of his comments was that he wasn’t interested in pleasing fans. He insisted that he was there to win games and satisfy his coaches.

Not exactly the warm fuzzies most fans want feel from the hometown quarterback.

The business of quarterback for a professional team carries with it a complex set of variables. Among the obvious on- field requirements of quality and excellence, the man in that position has responsibility to the organization and the community.

Getting a high-paying position for a visible, publicly exposed organization takes on different implications, including the requirement of representing the team in a congenial manner.

Hopefully a change of venue for Kyle Orton will help to reveal those qualities that Kansas City fans hold dear.

As I said earlier, I think Cassel is done as the starter. Now, could whoever the head coach is come spring OTAs and mini-camp change his mind if both Orton and Cassel are on the roster? Absolutely.

In my opinion, I believe Cassel will be traded for picks in the 2012 draft and Orton will be the starter in 2012. I also hold that the Chiefs will draft a quarterback fairly high in April.

Regardless of what happens in the offseason, I think the Chiefs will have a chance to finish the season with a decent record. I also think they automatically get better with Orton as the starter over Palko or Stanzi.

For Chiefs fans, I hope the powers that be made the right move. Kansas City deserves no less.


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