I'm taking a brief break from my "Where we are. Where we're going" series to pose an opinion that has occurred to me over the past few weeks as I've been writing WwaWwg. I promise this will be short.
We, as fans, are subject to tunnel vision. Every day, I wake up, go about my daily routine, and read another post about Donovan McNabb, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Claussen, Julius Peppers, Vince Wilfork, Karlos Dansby, and the list goes on and on. How that player or combination of several of those players will get us over the hump an allow us to become contenders.
My biggest peeve is what I call "fantasy football". I'm not claiming that I don't do it. I'm not saying that it isn't fun to think about a bevy of top free agents all wearing orange and blue next season. I just think it's that mindset in February that leads to disappointment and confusion in May. Writing about the need to resign Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil long term and then adding Wilfork and Peppers and Dansby to the mix - it just doesn't add up. Where am I going with this? Well, I have tunnel vision too. And it's with Kyle Orton.
I'm going to be bold and say that if I'm not MHR's biggest Kyle Orton supporter, I've yet to find a bigger one. I should say that, in terms of all-time favorite quarterbacks, after John Elway my favorite quarterback of all time is Craig Krenzel - a name most of you probably don't recognize. Krenzel was a hero for the Ohio State Buckeyes during their National Title run early last decade and only started a handful of games for the Bears before blowing out his elbow and never playing again. Krenzel was never the most talented guy on the field, he was unspectacular most games until he'd look down the barrel of a 4th and 14 or a 4th quarter deficit. Then he was unstoppable.
That's the kind of quarterback that I value. Unassuming, steady, and calmest when the pressure mounts highest. I think that's the kind of player Kyle Orton can be and the kind of quarterback he was earlier in the year in thrillers against Dallas and New England. Talking about quarterbacks is like talking about presidents. You hope to God for a good one and, even if you get one, you wind up wondering who's next. I've lived in Philadelphia for years and follow the Eagles to a small extent. You'd be amazed by the kind of genuine hatred McNabb is met with here. Every year they wonder "Who's next?" I don't want that to be us. I don't want to grab a top free agent or draft a QB early in the first round only to come to MHR this time next year with people wondering "Who's next?" Quarterback is the ultimate glamour position and every quarterback not on your team seems more glamourous than the one on yours.
I'm babbling, what am I getting at? Last post I projected Brandon Marshall could resign for 51M/6yrs with 18M guaranteed. I think that's fairly accurate - adding .5M a year to Roddy White's contract. Currently, I'm looking at what to do with Elvis Dumervil. I think mirroring James Harrison's 51.75M/6yrs with 20M guaranteed makes sense. Dumervil is younger than Harrison, but he hasn't led a Super Bowl winning defense or won Defensive POY. That's over 100 million dollars tied into the next 6 years, 38 million guaranteed, for two talented young players that most of us (at least in the case of Dumervil) are assuming we should try and get back. Now what about next year? We'll have a better idea of what the future of NFL contracts will be by then, but, if the salaries of veterans isn't overly different, we have Champ Bailey to worry about. Now, he probably won't demand 6 years (3 or 4 is more probable) but he'll have every right, as one of the Top 5 in the NFL at his position, to seek that kind of salary - which is in excess of 12 million per year. That's just our own players. I'd like to see Eugene Amano come in this year. With him, I'd look at something in between the 29.5M/5yrs and 25M/5yrs that the Dolphins gave Jake Grove and Justin Smiley over the past 2 off-seasons. Karlos Dansby supporters? He'll no doubt look at Jonathan Vilma's 34M/5yr extension with New Orleans that has 17M guaranteed. Julius Peppers lovers? He was insulted that the Panthers only wanted to make him the leagues highest paid defensive player by a slight margin.
This is just another reason to support Kyle Orton. Does it make sense to tender him this season rather than extend him long term? Yes. Should we keep an eye on Tom Brandstater? Yes. Hell, I think it's worth it to bring in a 3rd QB in the latter rounds of the draft and see how he develops. But it's worth it, in my mind, to hope that Orton solidifies his position as Denver's QB for 2011 and beyond. In a much earlier post - I dropped these stats.
Com Att Pct. Yds Yds/Att TD INT 20+ Yd Plays 40+ Yd Plays
QB1 19.8 31.8 62.3 251.3 7.9 1.7 .9 3.8 .8
QB 2 22.4 36.1 62.1 253.5 7.0 1.4 .8 2.9 .6
QB 3 17.6 29.1 60.5 193.4 6.6 1.4 .8 2.2 .3
These are the per game stats of 3 NFL QB's in 2009. QB1 appears to be the most aggressive big-play threat (albeit slightly more INT prone) with each of the next two quarterbacks a little more tentative. The least threatening of the three (and least accurate) is QB 3. That's Carson Palmer. QB 2 is Kyle Orton. QB 1 is Eli Manning. As I said in the original post, I divided Orton's stats by 15 instead of 16 which I don't consider cheating considering he missed pretty much an entire game between the second half of the Washington game and first half of the San Diego game.
The two biggest numbers: The contracts of the other two quarterbacks
Carson Palmer: 118.75M/6yrs
Eli Manning: 106.9M/7yrs
For what? Big names? Madden ratings? I believe that those numbers have more to do with who those players are and not what they do. Even if Kyle Orton were to throw for 4,000yds 25TDS 10INTs and lead us to the playoffs he'd still be considered by the rest of the NFL as a "system-quarterback". There's a stigma against "steady" quarterbacks in the NFL, but I'm not buying it. Say McXanders wants to extend Orton long-term after a great 2010 (I'm being hypothetical here). Even if they more than doubled his salary, what would he earn? 6M a year over 5 or 6 seasons? That's a whopping 9M/yr less than Carson Palmer. That's 9 million a year to invest in the contracts of a few solid starters or one big time free agent. Think about it. That's Kyle Orton AND Brandon Marshall for less money than Carson Palmer is getting paid to hand the ball off for a one-and-done team. That's money to use to run the ball, stop the run, reload our secondary. That gives us an advantage over other top teams who are forced to tie-up big money in their quarterbacks.
Football is the ultimate team sport. Perfect pass protection and a perfect pass means nothing if the receiver drops the ball. A nose tackle handling a double-team means nothing if the linebacker misses the tackle. If I could ask anything of my fellow MHR's it is to appreciate the job getting done, not if looks pretty. If Kyle Orton keeps it up, we'll be able get a bargain on a very good quarterback and have the money to build a better team around him. That's good news for all of you who love "fantasy football".