When I thought of Kyle Orton at the helm of my beloved Broncos I honestly went nuts. Just the mere thought of it made me a little queasy, not because I loved Cutler on the contrary but because I just didn't see Orton performing to the level he has thus far.
I was obviously wrong and Orton has performed well above anyone's expectations, but the question remains, is Orton the future at QB?
Well lets break it down.
Orton is still young enough at 27 to be the future and while his stats don't really scream future star they definitely don't scream the Griese blues. Orton has size, arm strength and better yet accuracy to take care of business at this level, but something is missing. Orton is the type of QB who prides himself in not putting his team in a difficult spot by making silly mistakes.
He is a smart QB who studies hard learns the game plan and follows it to the letter. However it is in there where his biggest weakness also resides. While he does so much of the work right Orton lacks the killer instinct that would allow him take the next step. I am referring to that certain "thing" that sets aside a QB like Manning or Brady among so many others in the rich history of this our beloved sport.
It is that (not to quote Marty again) gleam that twinkle in their eyes that ability to every once in a while put the team on his back and say "I'll get us there boys". It's that ability to know when the plan is not working and start winging it that separates the great ones from the average.
Elway did in record fashion while Manning does it almost on a weekly basis and guys like Montana, Marino, Favre, Brady and Young knew when to go ahead and just " turn it on" and take their team to victory. Now I do recognize that a big part of this comes from familiarity with not only the scheme but the players as well but the x factor resides with the QB.
He is the one that has the most contact with the coaches and he is the one that can always call an audible to put the team in a spot to win. All of the QB that I mentioned above had that killer instinct and they never seem to be satisfied always wanted more and were willing to put life and limb on the line to get the W, while Kyle sometimes seems happy to just not throw a pick.
I hope that this is not viewed as a bashing of Orton because as I said before a lot of that killer instinct will come with time spent with the players and within the system and I certainly hope Orton has it and its just waiting to unveil it when he is more comfortable, but as of now this is where, in my opinion, lye's his biggest weakness.
So does that mean that the future is in the roster already? Well, While I do like Brandstater (I think Sims should join his father in the booth) his measurable are very similar to Orton's. Brandstater has great size, athleticism, accuracy and great arm strength (think Matt Ryan not Jay Cutler) it is too early and I have yet to see him get any meaningful time on the field.
I will say this though, Brandstater did show a grittiness and that killer instinct in college as well as playing in a pro style offense and that bodes well for the rookie.
Some of my fellow brothers in orange and blue have taken to the draft already to answer this question, I have heard the likes of Tebow, Bradford, McCoy, Pike, Locker, and many others as the future answer, well I say not so fast.
Beware of the siren call of this young studs coming out of college with promises of stardom. Most of this guys are coming from the spread option system a system that while its success at the college ranks can not be denied, it is a system that exploits the biggest disparity in the college ranks, which are speed and awareness.
The spread option preys on the difference in speed between schools and the mere fact that student athletes just simply don't have the time to do the necessary amount of film study to read the little signs. It is also a system that create habits in QBs that would be frowned upon at the pro level.
Some examples of this bad habits are bad footwork and bad mechanics. QBs like Tebow, McCoy and Bradford while talented, would have to have their mechanics and footwork broken down in a long and hard process that would take a few years to see any returns on. That is why I simply don't like QBs coming out of this system. Some of you might be angry at this point but the proof is in the pudding.
Russell, Smith, and Young are big examples of spread option QBs that have yet to perform in the pros.
The spread option is at its best when it takes advantage of the difference in speed between the offense and the defense, but when you take into consideration the fact that in the NFL "elite" speed is as common as wet ones in a BBQ joint the scheme falls apart. Which in turns impedes the QB from this system, to do what he does best, which is make one or two reads and either throw it or take of running.
When that is taken away the bad footwork and bad mechanics are more noticeable. It is no coincidence that the young QBs that have the most success in the NFL are those that come out of pro style systems in college.
Regardless of whether we look at the short or long term it is the QBs like Flacco, Ryan, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, and Palmer, that have all come out of pro style systems in college that have always had more success and are able to sustain it.
If the Broncos feel like they must address this situation through the draft I hope they are not lured by the hype machine of the BCS and the big schools but instead take long hard looks at guys like Skelton, Pike, and Locker among others.
They may not be as hyped as their big school counter parts but the meassurables are there along with the good footwork and good mechanics. Their learning curve will be considerably shorter and if history is any indication, and it usually is, they will produce faster and longer.
However, I believe that the answer might be closer than we think, with more time I am confident that either Orton or Brandstater will prove to be more than capable. They might not be up to our unusually high expectations but if Dilfer won a Super Bowl I know that Orton or Brandstater can win at least two.