During Cutler's rookie season I attended a Broncos home game and as usual I arrived quite early for the tailgating and to see the team warm up. Its my own little ritual that I have become accustomed to every time I attend a home game. During said warm ups Cutler launched a ball from the twenty yard line with a nice ark that landed somewhere between the fifteen and twenty yard line, that's around seventy five yards.
I turned to my step brother and told him that was one of the strongest arms I have ever seen, he agreed and we went on to see a pretty good game that day. Yesterday my step brother mentioned that it would've been nice to see Cutler and his rifle arm in McDaniel's offense and that got me thinking, is the difference between Orton's arm strength and Cutler's really that much?
No, it is not.
See, arm strength difference is greatly exaggerated by the media and by us fans when in reality Cutler's arm is stronger but not by as much as we think.
Lets put it this way, on a scale of one to ten, one being a really weak arm (Pennington) and ten being the strongest (young Favre) I would say that Cutler is about an 8.5 and Orton about a 7. No I'm not crazy and I'm definitely not delusional, I have seen Orton launch a ball that traveled around 60 to 65 yards in the air and for those that simply just won't believe I suggest looking up "Purdue 2002 Highlights" on youtube and you will see Orton's arm strength on display with balls that travel 50+ yards. That is more than enough arm strength.
Perhaps no one has been as critical of Orton as I have been in the beginning, but after I have witnessed his play throughout this season and doing lots of research I have come around. Orton understands that the ability to throw the ball hard is not everything is this league, he knows that ark, touch and accuracy are just as important or perhaps even more so. After all, it was Joe Montana that famously said "I don't throw darts at balloons, I throw balloons at darts".
Much of Cutler's problems are due to his over confidence in his arm strength, he relies so heavily on it that he tries to throw tight ropes at his receivers where a lofted pass is preferred. We Bronco fans have all witnessed Cutler's inability to read zone defenses and watched in horror as he tried to zip a ball past a defender only to see batted down, or worse, go the other way. It is that kind of throw that made me almost have a heart attack every time he dropped back to throw the ball.
With Orton's this has changed. He knows when to zip the ball and when to lead his receiver away from coverage and danger and when throw over a defender. Throughout this season I have seen the Bronco offense get better every week along with Orton. Now I know most of his deep passes, if not all, have been horrible but the deep ball is something that relies heavily on timing and familiarity something that only comes with time. The more time Orton spends with his receivers the better those deep balls will get.
Orton has shown the ability to read defenses and make the correct throw taking what the defense is giving rather than put the ball, and game, in harms way. While in Chicago this style of play earned him the title of game manager, it's a title that no longer fits.
Game managers are the QBs that play for a ball control and run first and second,only-throw-if-absolutely-necessary style of offense; teams like Chicago, San Fransisco, Tampa, Carolina, Tennessee and Jacksonville. Those QBs are game managers. I don't believe that title can be applied to Orton anymore sice this offense is balanced and depends on Orton as much as it depends on its ground game. Thus, Orton is no longer just a game manager but rather a QB that is allowed to run the offense and make the necessary changes depending on what the defense is doing.
Granted, Orton seems to be on a leash thus far, but like the deep ball, this offense will be his with time. Tom Brady runs the same offense and we do not see him as a game manager, not to compare Brady to Orton, but it is proof that this style of offense can't function with a QB that is just a game manager. With time we will see Orton given more and more freedom to audible and change plays as he reads the defense, this is what the "spread" or "run and gun", whatever you prefer to call it, is all about.
All in all this is one fan that not only has come around or taken a wait and see attitude with Orton, but is rather glad to see No. 8 under center instead of having a weekly heart attack.