There are two new gunslingers in the AFC West, as Kyle Orton takes the reins of the Broncos and Matt Cassel will chuck it for the Chiefs.
Also, word has it on the street that wily veteran Jeff Garcia could take over in Oakland if JaMarcus Russell can't get the Raiders going early.
Truth be told, it's time to finally close the circuit for Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
Philip has enough high voltage to amp up the Chargers offensive electric train, but do the Chargers have enough collective energy and play making ability to take it all the way to Miami?
If the Chargers don't get it done this season, this team might go out of style faster than the electric trolley.
Kyle Orton came riding into Denver after Jay Cutler stormed out.
Will this trade bolt the Broncos into Mile High Heaven?
Will this trade be remembered as a colossal bust ending up as a whimsical puff of Rocky Mountain dust?
A little bird tells me that the Denver Broncos are feeling groovy with this move.
And I'm not talking "Horton Here's a Who," I'm talkin "Orton just knows how to win, baby."
Sure, we know all about Cutler's stats in 2008, throwing for over 4,000 yards and all that jazz.
But we also know that Cutler had a propensity for turning the ball over in 2008 with 18 interceptions and two lost fumbles, making him a virtual turnover machine.
On other hand, I have always backed Orton because he's not all about stats, he's all about winning.
One important QB statistic that's conveniently overlooked at times: Wins and Losses as a starter.
Orton had a career 21—12 record as a starter for the Bears. That's pretty darn impressive.
Overall, the team just seems to play better with him in the huddle.
Gone are the days of embarrassing "party hard" pics going viral on the internet. This ex-Boilermaker looks primed and pumped to get the Broncos bucking back into the postseason.
Interesting Orton fact:
Orton played for Purdue, where he wore uniform No. 18 in honor of former Nebraska Cornhuskers' quarterback Brook Berringer, who died in a plane crash in 1996. (source: Wikipedia)
Ok, ok, I've heard the skeptics regarding Cassel:
He's a system QB, has no receivers in KC, is just blip on the radar screen, and is not gonna be anything special.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, sounds like a lot of "bull pucky" to me.
Cassel had a great season last year for New England and his year was one of the best feel good stories out there.
Look at what he did last year after not playing since high school!
Team Record 11—5
Complete Percentage: 63.4
True, it will hurt not having the future HOF Tony Gonzalez to throw too; however, Cassel will play steady in KC.
He backed up and learned from great Tom Brady all these years. How bad can the dude be?
I'm sure Brady spoke these wise words to Cassel more than once: "Patience grasshopper, your time will come."
Well that time is apparently now, as the Chiefs have locked up Cassel for six years at $63 million dollars, with $28 million guaranteed.
My only knock on Matt is that I can't find anything funny to say about him.
How this for a headline: "Is KC California Dreamin? Or will the kid from Southern Cal lead the men in red to Miami instead?" Not bad, not bad.
Interesting Cassel fact:
Cassel was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 36th round of the 2004 MLB Draft. (source: Wikipedia)
There are more questions than answers regarding the 6' 6" 260 lb. JaMarcus Russell:
1) Did this offseason mean anything to him?
2) Can he get out of the gate fast for the Raiders this season?
3) Will he make the big plays at crunch time?
4) Can he be consistent for an entire season?
I don't mind the fact that JaMarcus makes a lot of donuts in Oakland, ($68 million dollar contract, $31.5 mil guaranteed) but he's just gotta stop eating so many of 'em!
If JaMarcus has problems firing on all cylinders, there's newly acquired Jeff "pedal to the metal" Garcia waiting in the wings.
No guarantees there, although it's always a good thing to create competition at the QB position.
Back to wins and losses: Russell was 5—10 last year in his first year as the starter for the Raiders and showed little big play ability.
Also, a 53.8 completion percentage will not get the job done—ever.
Come on JaMarcus, we know you can do it, with a little help from your friends, of course.
This years Raiders offense may be the first to collectively surpass rushing for 3,000 yards on the ground since the 1978 New England Patriots.
Interesting Russell Fact:
Russell is the cousin of Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch. (source: Wikipedia)
Hands down, Rivers is the gem in this group if you're looking at these gaudy individual stats alone:
Completion Percentage: 65.3
Overall QB rating: 105.5
And to Philips' credit, he helped bring back the underachieving Chargers from the dead last season to get them into the playoffs, finishing at 8—8.
However, the gnawing question remains, "can Philip lead this team and be a consistent winner, especially at playoff time?"
Let's put it this way, two-time Super Bowl winning QB, Ben Roethlisberger already has 19 comeback victories to his credit.
Rivers, drafted the same year as Big Ben, has been credited with only eight comebacks.
Granted, Rivers did not start until his third season, but his eight comeback victories still lag behind quarterback greats John Elway (47), Brett Favre (42), Marino and Peyton (37), and look at this!
Drew Beldsoe had 32 comebacks to his credit.
Ok, I have to throw this one in as well: four time Super Bowl champ Joe Montana tallied 31 comeback victories in his career.
*It should be noted that comeback statistics are highly disputed. Some statisticians have Elway's comeback total as low as 34 and Big Ben's as low as 15.
Furthermore, for those who think it's unfair to compare comebacks because Big Ben has started two more seasons than Rivers, let's break it down by comebacks per season.
Roethlisberger averages 3.8 comebacks per year where Rivers has averaged 2.7 comebacks.
This might not seem like a noticeable difference to some, but in today's NFL, parity reigns king and the difference of a win or two due to comeback can make the difference between going to the playoffs, winning in the playoffs, and ultimately giving your team a chance to win the Super Bowl.
Now I am not saying the Rivers will not/cannot belong to this elite group!
He's right at the doorstep. I am merely trying to point out that he may need to raise his level of play one more notch to achieve his ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl.
Based on my observations watching the Chargers play last year, many of their games had all the drama of a developing hostage situation, and the Bolts weren't the ones saving anybody, if you know what I mean.
The trick for Rivers this year will be for him to take on the role of sharpshooting assassin, leading the Chargers all the way to Miami and beyond.
Who knows, maybe it's those baby blue uniforms....
Interesting Rivers fact:
Rivers is good friends with Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, who is also from Alabama.