What Kyle Orton's Heroic Victory Means For Matt Cassel's Future

Thomas EmerickSenior WriterDecember 18, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a touchdown during the game against the Green Bay Packers on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kyle Orton’s an above average quarterback and an instant spark plug. He displayed this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in slaying the undefeated Packers, 19-14, much as he did during his stops in Chicago and Denver.

Orton won’t hold up well for long behind bad line play. He’ll suffer nagging injuries right around Week 9, like clockwork, and suffer a decline in play down the stretch. He won’t carry a team to the playoffs.

But he’ll take the reins from the Tyler Palkos and Rex Grossmans of the world and lift an offense to competence. And that’s nice for right now.

Orton’s 299-yard passing performance against an underwhelming Green Bay defense took the crash pedals to a Kansas City attack that hadn’t scored over 10 points in seven games.

But it’s also important to note that due to Matt Cassel’s season-ending injury, the Chiefs horrifyingly had to tab Palko the starter from Weeks 11 through 14.

The idea of a journeyman quarterback outperforming Palko isn’t exactly crazy. As Nate Ravitz noted on ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football, the guy looks like he’s using his non-throwing hand.

Let’s not forget Cassel rebounded from a terrible start to 2011—lowlighted by throwing an interception on a screen pass, ending the loss in San Diego—to then help KC rip off four straight wins.

In nine games this season, Cassel tallied a modest 10 touchdowns, nine picks and 1,713 yards in 2011. His 2010 campaign featured a 27-7 TD-INT ratio and, oh, a division title.

In 2010, Orton amassed a ton of pass yards in Josh McDaniels’ "Throw With Reckless Abandon Offense" while Denver sputtered into Tebowdom.

Don’t expect this Chiefs offense to suddenly transform into Air Orton. Cassel has earned his starting spot for 2011. Kyle Orton would make arguably the league’s best backup, but I don’t imagine him settling for understudy. Expect the Chiefs to say goodbye to him this offseason.