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Published on 01/08/2010 at Fri Jan 08 11:40.
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Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Broncos 30-27.  (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Broncos 30-27. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This is Part 1 in a series of a posts examining the Jay Cutler trade after one year.  Today: Kyle Orton vs. Cutler in 2009.

When it comes to judging the “winners and losers” of the blockbuster Jay Cutler trade, after one season, statistically, Orton alone is enough to stem the tide in the Denver Broncos‘ favor.  The two first round draft picks and third round pick the Chicago Bears also sent make it a landslide.

Jay Cutler’s struggles this season for the Bears are well-known and well-documented.  He threw an NFL-high 26 interceptions in 2009 and had the worst passer rating of his career (78.6).  However, most fans, at least those in Denver, are quick to point out Cutler’s aggressive, down-field throwing style, while Orton is better known as a conservative check-down quarterback.  “Orton is successful because he is conservative and doesn’t make mistakes,” they’d say, while Cutler struggled because he didn’t have the talent around him to execute big plays. 

That isn’t entirely accurate, at least in regard to criticisms on Orton.  A side-by-side comparison of the two QBs shows that Orton actually threw for more yards than Cutler in 2009.  Interestingly, both quarterbacks completed exactly 336 passes this season, with Orton tallying 14 less attempts.

In other words, Kyle Orton’s yards (3,802), yards per completion, and yards per attempt (7.0) were higher than Jay Cutler’s in 2009 (3,666 yds., 6.6 ypa), all while making far, far fewer mistakes than the Broncos’ 2006 draft pick.

If this comes as a surprise to you, don’t worry; we were quite surprised as well.

Now, Cutler rushed for more yards than Orton, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  He also threw more touchdowns (27 to Orton’s 21) in 2009.

But those are minor consolation prizes when judging a season in which Orton dominated Cutler in every other statistical category.

Was Kyle Orton frustrating at times?  Yes.  Was he slow and indecisive when the pressure was on?  Absolutely.  But he was far from the conservative check-down thrower many fans have stereotyped him to be.  Who knows what steps he’ll take with another year in this system?

In Part 2, we’ll look at the last two seasons of Denver Broncos quarterbacks, fair-to-compare or not: Jay Cutler in 2008 vs. Kyle Orton in 2009.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    i was just watching the 93 back to back games Green Bay vs Detroit… Favre in his 3rd or fourth year (?)… He threw 26 int's and everyone was questioning his future in the NFL but not his skills… familiar? It took a coach like Holmgren and talent like GB had then to calm him down and hone his skills vs his gunslinger mentality… Even P Manning threw about as many int's his first four years!

    Sure Orton had a great year. For Orton. The facts are that his arm-strength, accuracy on the move and deep (he doesn't move or throw deep well) …definitely restricted us offensively and dictated how defenses played us. Of course our o-line weaknesses made it much more difficult for him. Bottom line is if we play well in ALL other aspects of the game, Orton can be successful but only then. He's peaked. This is it folks. He can have another great year if we continue to improve but he as a QB in the NFL …peaked. Hey, he's better than Dilfer…

    Gawd would I have loved to see Jay if he could have continued under an offensive/qb minded coach like McD! Maybe he would have failed…

    Given the above and lasts years draft picks so far… I still HATE the trade. Remains to be seen though.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    BTW Favre won the play-off game in Detroit that year and went on to 3 (maybe 4) MVP titles… he's pretty good. Despite what everyone said about him… BIG Love/Hate thing.

  • http://twitter.com/jholm7 Jason

    I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you Mr. Bronco. It is true that Kyle isn't the most agile of QBs but neither is Brady, he doesn't have the most powerful arm, but neither does Brady. I use the illustrious Tom as a comparison because the stats match. The QB rating match, the TD/INT ratio match. From 2001-2006 the immobile Tom Brady did no better than Kyle Orton. Only in 2007 & 2009 did Tom ever throw for more yards than Kyle did this year. I fully expect Kyle to get better with this team with a year under his belt.

  • Bob K

    Bottom line: neither team made the playoffs. Get back to me in three years. You are right about the upside: Orton has NONE. He is Trent Dilfer. Put him on the '85 Bears or '00 Ravens and he'd look good. Too bad the '10 Broncos won't look like either of those teams. Cutler has the higer ceiling, as they say. If the Bears are smart (by no means a given) they will give him the coaching and talent he needs to improve drastically. In three years we'll see who gets to the playoffs consistently and why.

  • http://broncotalk.net Kyle

    That's actually really interesting, I just looked it up and Brady and Orton do compare in the years you mentioned.

    However, until Orton plays in a playoff game, let alone a dozen, no real comparison to Tom Brady can possibly be made.

  • bobk

    Excuse me? Brady is not agile? Funny, I saw him fake Brian Urlacher out of his jock in '06. He moves around pretty well. Orton moves like he always has a sprained ankle. Arm strength? Brady has a gun. Orton has a popgun. No matter of statistical maneuvering can masquerade the truth. People said the same crap about Montana. I watched a replay of the '82 “The Catch” game. Montana was literally leaping over defenders and flinging the ball deep on the run. What an athlete. Brady is too and so is Cutler. Trust me, no one will ever mistake Orton for any of them.

  • http://twitter.com/todd_nett Todd N

    Cutler undoubtedly has better physical talents than Orton. But is he a winner? Is he a leader? Is he a guy who will put the team on his back and carry it to wins by the sheer force of his will? NO…he is none of those things and without the mental/emotional tools to be a leader and a winner he doesn't have much upside either.

  • AtomicLeo

    Three years, Folks…..Do this comparison in three years. Because right now we don't know

    Can Orton continue to put up great yardage numbers without BM on the field? 30% of Orton's passes went to BM and you need at least 2 guys to bring him down. I saw A LOT of passes caught by Marshall at 5 yards turn into 15-20 completions simple because Marshall can run through defenders.

    Are the draft picks brought along with the trade productive players? I think Moreno is a yawner. Ayers is improving. Smith may play better BUT he's a 5'9″ CB in a division where the main rival (San Diego) doesn't have a WR under 6 foot. He's not gonna grow 1-2 inches next year.

    Will Cutler's numbers and play improve if the Bears have a down field threat like the one that emerged in the last two games of the season? I liked what I saw in the Minnesota game. What I really liked about it is, Cutler had he worst game of the season the previous week and he came back in prime time and had a great game. He didn't do that last year. Just folded after the Raider loss. That's an encouraging sign. The Bears struggled this year because the defense wasn't that great, Forte struggled and Cutler didn't have a down field threat. Hester is just downright awful as a #1 WR. They started to do some nice things the last two games. Looked better than the Broncos.

    My predication on what the consensus will be on this trade in 3 years…..Both McDaniels and Cutler are talented stubborn a$$es who thought way too much of their abilities early in their careers and both sides will be seen as losers in this deal. McDaniels will be fired and will have to wait a long while before anyone allows him near a HC spot again. Cutler can't live up to the hype in Chicago, anything less than a SB win will be seen as a failure and he'll hit the road. I predict both however will resurrect their careers later with different teams, ala Bellicheck and Kerry Collins.

  • roshon2411

    Brady doesn't have an arm? Have you watched a patriot highlight in the last decade? Brady to Moss set a TD record and it wasn't because of WR screens? Besides Cutler's #'s in his first 4 years are comparable to Peyton's but trust me he's not Peyton.

    People crucified Cutler last year because though they were number#2 in offense because they were 16th in pts. Well this year the offense was worse. The two changes were Shanny/Cutler and McD/Orton.

    Either McD isn't the offensive genius everyone thought or Orton is a bum. They need to pick up a QB in the draft because they're not going to find one in FA.

  • AtomicLeo

    Orton can not carry a team on his back and win. He had one 1! game this year where he played out of his mind and led the team to victory, the NE game. And whose to say if that would have been a win if Brady had a chance in OT.

    Fans put too much into the he's-a-great-teammate line. Rothlesberger is a prefect example. By all accounts he is lazy, arrogant and doesn't get along with most of his teammates however he plays out of his jock on the field and wins games. In the pros all the guys care about is do your job on the field and win. Period. Cutler isn't in Denver because he didn't win 1 out of 4 games at the end of the season. If he had just one win in December last, this site would be filled with posts and articles praising what a great QB he is and how he's a wonderful teammate. He'd still be a a** but at least he'd be a winning a**.

  • AtomicLeo

    Brady is the best QB in the league. He's been the best in the league for the past 5 seasons. People make these comparison thinking Brady is just average QB. B***SH!T. The record season the Pats had proved he could put up insane numbers if he was in an offense that threw all the time. Put him on ANY of the puke teams in the league right now and they gain 3-4 wins at least.

    Orton is not and will never e as good as Tom Brady.

  • http://ehalseymiles.com E. Halsey Miles

    Brady has one particular skill that makes him a fantastic quarterback that Orton and Cutler both lack.

    Brady always seems to know exactly where the pressure is coming from and exactly how many inches he needs to move in order to get out of it without taking his eyes off the field.

    Whenever I watch Brady play (not this season, mind; but in prior seasons) it always amazed me that pressure would be coming, and Brady would take *one* step and the guy would miss. No scrambling or tucking and running. One step; guy misses; Brady throws for a completion. Smooth as silk. In my memory, at least, this happened at least two or three times a game.

    You rarely see Orton or Cutler do that.

  • TheTroglodyte

    I find the use of stats highly overrated. Especially the horrible comparison between Orton and Brady. Anyone who says Brady has a weak arm has not watched him play very much, the kid has a gun. Brady is also one of the most accurate QB's in the game. Has been since he started his first game in the NFL. Brady is not mobile, I don't give a damn that he put a juke on Urlacker. What he does have is tremendous pocket presence though, the ability to move around just enough and step up to make throws. He has also been one of the best qb's under pressure and at least before he almost lost his career to injury was more than capable of delivering a strike while taking a hit.

    Orton has no mobility, no pocket presence, no ability to step up in the pocket, no “feel” for the rush, has extremely low accuracy even at close range, panics under pressure, cannot throw with any accuracy at all more than 15 – 20 yards and cannot throw more than 50 yards period. He doesn't look off defenders well, doesn't read his receivers well, and is just as ugly without the neckbeard as he is with it.

    Let's set the record straight, I don't like Cutler, I can make a list just as long for why he is a crappy qb as I can for Orton. For anyone who wants to say I am just an Orton “hater”… I actually like Orton. I think he is a good team leader and would love to see him stick around as are #2 qb for the next 10 years. The fact is he doesn't have the physical tools to be a franchise qb.

    As far as comparing him to Brady, only a die hard, can't see anything but roses fan would dare to utter such nonsense.

    As far as comparing Cutler to Favre that is just as ridiculous. Favre is a once in a lifetime qb. You can come up with but one name to try and make your point but I can give you a list a mile long of players just like Cutler who had so much “potential” and it turned out to be nothing but crap. Jeff George is near the top of that list.

    As far as comparing Orton to Cutler… who the hell cares. Cutler isn't here any more so it doesn't matter one bit. Cutler has the physical tools but not the mental makeup. Orton has the mental makeup but not the physical tools. Neither qb can win without an awful lot of help. Neither qb will ever “carry” a team to victory ESPECIALLY in the playoffs. Just let it go.

  • http://ehalseymiles.com E. Halsey Miles

    One thing you have to be careful of in those stats. Those total up all the yards in the entire play. If Orton throws for 3 and Marshall adds 27 yards to it, it goes in the books as a 30 yard pass play. Orton threw for 3.

    I went to look up how that changes things, but the official stats don't seem to actually list YAC for the receivers, so I don't know how the Bears did in YAC.

    Another thing that you have to consider is that the short pass is still the bread and butter. What's weird is that the Bears don't actually have a possession receiver (a Rod Smith type) — they have a lot of fast guys that do their best work on single cut patterns and go routes. They don't have anyone who wades into traffic, jumps up and gets the ball in a tight spot where the ball can only go in one place where the defenders can't get it.

    Cutler even said as much about Hester. He wasn't knocking him, he just knew that Hester was not the type of receiver where you can throw it behind his shoulder on the go and expect him to get it.

    In theory that's what Greg Olsen is supposed to do, but…well there are a lot of problems with Chicago's offense. The players they have right now don't fit together well. I'm really curious to see who they get to replace Ron Turner. Getting the right offensive coordinator in there, and getting some better personnel in there could go a long way toward hiding Cutler's flaws.

    Much like McDaniels was seeking to hide Orton's flaws. (And in a lot of ways, he did.)

  • http://twitter.com/jholm7 Jason

    I'm sorry to offend, I was not saying that Orton is ever going to be as good as Brady, I cannot speak to that. What I was saying was that there are some comparison's. They may mean nothing more than Orton can improve.

    Also, I mean no disrespect to what Brady is or what he has done. I also agree that until Orton starts winning playoff games no can true comparisons be made.

    I like what Orton has done and think he's poised to have a better 2010.

  • IanHenson

    We, myself included were speculating MVP season for Kyle Orton when the team was 6-0. I believe, had we won some of those close games he would have come up in talks, see Carson Palmer.

  • IanHenson

    Cutler's looking to reunite with Jeremy Bates. I don't believe that it's a done deal and with Pete Carrol possibly going to Seattle, there may be some issues.

  • http://ehalseymiles.com E. Halsey Miles

    People were, though I kept feeling like those 6 games were all won by the defense and the offense did JUST enough to not lose. That puts Orton squarely in the same conversation as Trent Dilfer. =)

  • WhidbeyBronco

    r u kidding me?

    Have you heard the line “you can make the stats say what you what”?

    Have you seen Brady through the ball?
    Have you seen Kyle?

    I rest my case.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    BTW yes he could have a better year next year as we improve… My point remains crystal clear.

  • slkdjfod

    Part 2 will be a better comparison, 08 Cutler vs 09 Orton but it's still tough to compare them then because of Shanahan vs McDaniels. I think Cutler was the better QB and in McDaniels' system would have been 13 times better than 09 Orton. Cutler still probably would've have thrown more than 12 interceptions but his touchdown total could be a Tom Brady like 40 or 50. I believe in McDaniels but after one year and another fall out at the end of the season I still think we would be better of with Cutler. McDaniels fixed the defense, now we just need some help on offense. Hopefully Orton can open it up more next season.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    Actually Cutler's “eyes in the back of his head” get better every year. As evidenced by how our offensive line looked with Orton. Cutler moves very very well in the pocket, can run and does keep his eyes down the field… sure he's not Brady. Maybe he never will be.

    Neither was Brady after four years.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    ty

  • WhidbeyBronco

    You're not paying attention. Look how many come backs Cuts has! He might never get there without the proper tutelage but he IS on the same path some of the greats were at this time in their career… Only time will tell.

    …I can't believe we're on this argument again. The question at hand was 'was the trade worth it'?

  • WhidbeyBronco

    well said… We'll see on your predictions. 3 years sounds good but do we really have to suffer for three more years and then suffer for three more while we rebuild AGAIN?

    Can't we just predict Josh will pull his head out?

  • WhidbeyBronco

    all excellent points. Agreed on the who cares comparison too. Even if I think he'll prove you wrong… who cares. He's not a Bronco. enough said.

    Nah. Enough is never enough. Trog? Favre is the perfect comparison to Cutler at this point in their careers… In 93 ALL of the troglodytes like you were saying the EXACT SAME THINGS about that hick Brett Favre… we'll see.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    lololol i remember !! MVP. wow. Have some crow.

  • arianne622

    Well, I think Orton is a good quarterback and with the right opportunities has the potential to be a phenom! I must say though I have always loved Cutler and I would have traded our couch with him along with the draft picks!! I think you all will be shocked at the Bears this year and maybe appreciate Orton while you have him as you should have appreciated Cutler. With a little more help in the passing game, this should be a good year. Hey…isn't Brandon Marshall free?

  • TheTroglodyte

    Every Troglodyte was not saying the same thing about Favre in 93. Favre had the mental makeup to be an elite qb. Scouts, coaches and fans alike for whatever reason seem to completely ignore the FACT that playing QB is every bit… nay, MORE about leadership than it is about physical tools. Obviously a certain amount of physicality is needed to be competent. Beyond that, however, it's nice to have but has absolutely zero baring on how good a qb is going to be. Cutler not only falls well short of what a leader represents, he is a severe pouter and he parades that in front of everyone. Getting him under “control” isn't the big problem. That can be easily taught if he is willing to grow up and take criticism. Teaching someone how to lead is a far more difficult task. That is why Favre is a terrible comparison.

    I don't want to see anyone have a bad career. I hope he figures it out and makes a great career for himself. I really do. So I'm sure we can agree on that point. I'll leave it at that.

  • denverfanindallas

    can you say BroMance?

  • anthony33

    Cutler is more physically talented by a long shot.
    Orton is better mentally and has a better work ethic.

    At this point, you are what you are physically so when it comes to UPSIDE you would probably give the edge to Cutler. However, with a full year under his belt and another full off season and training camp ahead, who knows, Orton might even have more upside.

    All that being said… we still desparately need a QB for the long haul.

    Consider this:
    McNaab
    Romo
    Palmer
    Sanchez
    Warner
    Rogers
    Manning
    Bradey
    Flacco
    Brees
    Favre
    All play off quarterbacks. Now, forget about age and tell if you would take either Cutler or Orton over any of them. I think NOT.

  • Larry

    “Consider this:
    McNaab
    Romo
    Palmer
    Sanchez
    Warner
    Rogers
    Manning
    Bradey
    Flacco
    Brees
    Favre
    All play off quarterbacks. Now, forget about age and tell if you would take either Cutler or Orton over any of them. I think NOT.”

    Flacco, Sanchez and Palmer can all be inconsistent at this point in their careers, but any of the others would have had the Bears or Broncos in the playoffs. It seems like if we had a combination of Cutler and Orton Cutler's physical tools with Orton's leadership and decision making) we'd be in good shape. BTW of Cutler's 26 INT's I don't think any were pic 6's.

  • anthony33

    Cutler is more physically talented by a long shot.
    Orton is better mentally and has a better work ethic.

    At this point, you are what you are physically so when it comes to UPSIDE you would probably give the edge to Cutler. However, with a full year under his belt and another full off season and training camp ahead, who knows, Orton might even have more upside.

    All that being said… we still desparately need a QB for the long haul.

    Consider this:
    McNaab
    Romo
    Palmer
    Sanchez
    Warner
    Rogers
    Manning
    Bradey
    Flacco
    Brees
    Favre
    All play off quarterbacks. Now, forget about age and tell if you would take either Cutler or Orton over any of them. I think NOT.

  • Larry

    “Consider this:
    McNaab
    Romo
    Palmer
    Sanchez
    Warner
    Rogers
    Manning
    Bradey
    Flacco
    Brees
    Favre
    All play off quarterbacks. Now, forget about age and tell if you would take either Cutler or Orton over any of them. I think NOT.”

    Flacco, Sanchez and Palmer can all be inconsistent at this point in their careers, but any of the others would have had the Bears or Broncos in the playoffs. It seems like if we had a combination of Cutler and Orton Cutler's physical tools with Orton's leadership and decision making) we'd be in good shape. BTW of Cutler's 26 INT's I don't think any were pic 6's.

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