Just look at that manly jaw line!
One thing about Jay Cutler that I never liked was how he never had the courage to do what Jake Plummer did. If you live in the mountains, and you work in the mountains, then you should have the courage to represent those beautiful Mile-High mountains with a neck-beard that would make Chuck Norris proud!
All joking aside, thank the football heavens that the Mile-High fiasco has finally come to an end. If most sports sites weren't redundant enough, the constant back and forth reporting of each tidbit to come along like "Cutler answered a text message today" or "Josh McDaniels was spotted walking down the road with fat sacks of cash" was enough to make a rabid Broncos fan indifferent.
Considering the other offseason moves made by the Broncos and the obvious team chemistry shake-up that occurs any time there is regime change in the NFL, this was one headline that I am glad will soon (hopefully) be disappearing.
Kyle Orton is the right guy to win in Denver next season. I said it, and its out in the open. Cutler was phenomenal, and with an entire backfield on crutches and almost no defensive support last season, he had to be. But its inconceivable to me that anyone thought Cutler was going to be back in Denver.
I didn't buy anything McDaniels said about bringing Cutler back in, and I don't think he did either. McDaniels strikes me as a streamlined coach that has a clear (if somewhat naive) view of the system that he wants in place, and the types of talent necessary to execute said vision. While Matt Cassell surprised more than his fair share of critics this past year filling in for the siren-wedding Tom Brady, his mettle will be tested in Kansas City where they lack most of the pieces that New England so conveniently provided for him. I don't think the results will be quite as good as 11-5.
Orton came along nicely near the end of last season, playing on a team with limited receiving options and an uncharacteristically weakened defense. Instead of Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokely and Tony Scheffler to spread the field around, Chicago had rookie RB Matt Forte having flashbacks to his Tulane days and eight defenders in the box. Oddly, he still powered ahead for over 1,200 yards.
Orton's stats, while not the gaudy 4,500-yard season Cutler had, still show solid production in a run-heavy, conservative scheme. The rest of the tools on Denver's offense, namely the receivers and offensive line, are superior to that of Chicago. Even if Orton puts up the same numbers, a slightly better showing on defense and three or fewer IRs for running backs should spell at least an 8-8 finish if not a little better.
Orton won't act like a spoiled diva, and more importantly, won't throw the stubborn red-zone interceptions that Cutler made famous in several of the Broncos losing efforts last year. McDaniel's offense doesn't call for a superstar, and there isn't a first-round quarterback in this year's draft that is worth the money anyway. For the first time in Orton's career, he will be surrounded by skill-position talent that can maximize his effectiveness. McDaniels may still be new at this, but New England was notorious at getting the most out of the guys on their team, even if they weren't all Pro Bowl caliber talent.
Look for Orton to surprise in the same way that Matt Cassell did this last year, provided the Broncos make good choices in the upcoming draft to bolster the defense. And provided that the neck-beard stays on.
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