FanPost

Stat wandering and Orton

So I've wanted to do this comparison since the preseason but certain life circumstances (relocating from South Carolina to Washington State) have REALLY hampered my ability to study football thus far.  In any case, I finally have a few hours to sit down and write.

I initially wanted to put this thing together because I was a bit......flustered by what I was seeing in the preseason in the way of play calling and QB performance (I was about to jam a pencil into my eye if I saw another bubble screen or dump off).  I started thinking that there has to be a method; a development pattern of sorts, that could be used to see into the future.  Enter Matt Cassel.  What a great way to see the growth of McDs system in a new QB and maybe to see how Orton is holding up in comparison to the Patriots of last year (11-5).  Cassel certainly isn't Orton, and the Broncos aren't the Patriots, but McD obviously had some interest in bringing Cassel into the Broncos organization and no one can deny that the Broncos are utilizing the same (at least real close) passing philosophy that the Patriots did.  So here are the numbers.

              WK    Result                    Comp        Att      Pct     Yds    Avg     TD    Int    Sck    SckY    Rating

Cassel    1       W   17-10 KC          13          18     72.2    152     8.4      1       0      2        16         116

Orton                W   12-7   Cinci       17          28    60.7    243     8.7      1       0      3        16         100.7

Cassel    2       W   19-10 Jets        16          23     69.6    165     7.2      0       0      4         9           89.9

Orton                W   27-6   Clev        19          37     51.4    263     7.1      1       0      0         0           83.5

Cassel    3        L   13-38  Miami    19          31     61.3    131     4.2      1       1      4         17         68.1

Orton                W   23-3  Oak         13          23     56.5    157     6.8      1       0      0          0           92.1

Cassel    4        W   30-21 SF          22          32     68.8    259     8.1      1       2      5          26         77.5

Orton                W   17-10 Dal          20          29     69       243     8.4      2       0      3         22         117.5

Cassel    5        L   10-30   SD         22          38     57.9    203     5.3      0       1      4        10         61.6

Orton                W   20-17 NE          35          48     72.9    330     6.9      2       1      2          9           96.7

Cassel    6       W   41-7   Den        18          24     75       185     7.7      3       0      6          38         136.3

Orton                W   34-23 SD          20          29     69       229     7.9      2       0      1          2           115.4

Cassel    7       W   23-16 STL         21          33     63.6    267     8.1      1       2      3         17         73.7

Orton                ????????                                                                                                              

Cassel    8        L   15-18  Indy         25          34     73.5    204     6         0       1      0        0           76.1

Cassel    9        W   20-10 Buff         22          32     68.8    234     7.3      0       0      1        8           89.8

Cassel    10      L   31-34  Jets         30          51     58.8    400     7.8      3       0      3       14         103.4

Cassel    11      W   48-28 Miami      30          43     69.8    415     9.7      3       1      2       7           114

Cassel    12      L   10-33   Pitts       19          39     48.7    169     4.3      0       2      5        24         39.4

Cassel    13      W   24-21 Seatt       26          44     59.1    268     6.1      1       0      3       8           84.3

Cassel    14      W   49-26 Oak        18          30     60       218     7.3      4       1      3        8           108.1

Cassel    15      W   47-7   Ariz        20          36     55.6    345     9.6      3       0      1        12         116.1

Cassel    16      W   13-0   Buffalo    6            8       75       78       9.8      0       0      1        5           105.2

So what can be derived from a look at the two, side by side (other than I really stink at inserting tables)?  Maybe nothing.  But there are a few things that stick out to me.

First, the Pats O-line isn't even in the same league as what Orton has got watching his back.  That and Orton is probably better at getting the ball out of his hand quicker.  In the first 6 games under McD, Cassel was sacked 25 times compared to Ortons 9. Wow!!  Second, Interceptions.  Through 6 games, Cassel had 6 compared to Ortons 1.  There are other things to be gleaned from the comparison but ultimately, Orton is blowing Cassel out of the water through the first six games.  But to be honest, I'd be upset if he wasn't.  Orton is a much more experienced QB than Cassel at this point and should outperform him.  But back to my initial question, when is the play calling going to open up?

In game 6, the Patriots absolutely destroyed us.  We turned the ball over 5 times and the Patriots just smeared us into the turf.  This game however, is where things started to change for Cassel.  Up to this point, most of Cassel's passes are short (read bubble screens and dump offs).  Welker and Faulk are the primary recipients and Cassel is averaging about 6-7 yards per pass and there are very few over 15 yards.  In game 6, although his stats are relatively underwhelming, Moss, Welker and Watson all had receptions over 27 yards. From this point forward Cassel gets it.  The offense opens up and they lay some serious wood on teams.  They still lose a few, 3 to be exact (Indy, Jets and Pittsburg) but they're firing on all cylinders.  The Broncos are weeks ahead of the 2008 Patriots.  We don't have a Randy Moss (there isn't another one, maybe Wayne or Fitz) to stretch the field and consistently snag 60 yard bombs.  What doesn't come across well in these stats is the distribution of the ball. 

Last year, the Patriots had 7 players with a reception over 24 yards.  After 6 games the Broncos have 8 players with a reception of 24 yards or greater (6 FREAKIN GAMES).  The 2008 Patriots had 5 players with 20 or more receptions.  The Broncos are on pace to have 8.  Orton is light years ahead of where Cassel was after 6 games.  We've watched his Passing Percentage increase steadily and his yards per pass are consistently better than what Cassel was posting last year.

My initial curiosity was focused on determining when we could expect the offense to open up and lay big-time wood. Now, after looking into things, I don't really care.  We most certainly have the ability right now. But the effectiveness/efficiency is simply awe-inspiring.  Get this!!  Remember that incredible 2007 season Brady had?  He had 6 players with over 300yrds receiving.  We are currently on pace to have 7.  Orton is also on pace to throw the ball almost 100 times fewer than Brady did that year. I don't know what any of this actually means, but I'm getting REALLY excited.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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