I recently finished revamping my statistics website at QueueStats.com, which attempts to quantify the production on the field into relatively simplistic measurements that accurately rank teams and players.
I didn't hate on Jamaal Charles, who ranked 2nd in the 2010 regular season for running backs, because he plays for Kansas City. Nor did I sabotage Phillip Rivers' stats because he plays for San Diego. Rivers ranked as the 5th most efficient quarterback in 2010.
Instead, I created formulas for the whole league with the intent to better understand what Denver needs to do to improve. Unfortunately for Denver, 2010 was a pretty bad year record-wise and the stats indicate that all over the place. So I will start with my series on the roster with the quarterback for Denver.
Kyle Orton played 13 games in 2010. He completed 58.8 percent of his passes, threw for 20 touchdowns, had 13 total turnovers, was sacked 34 times and had a 7.3 yards per throw average. For the most part, he played well. It is difficult to say what his performance might have been with at least an average defense, a healthy running back and a healthy offensive line.
Instead, those things were not present, forcing Orton to shoulder all of the responsibility for guiding Denver's offense. He had 498 attempts for the year or 38.3 per game, good enough for 10th in the NFL despite only playing 13 games. If he had stayed on his pace for the year, he would have had roughly 613 attempts, behind only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Since he is not on their level, naturally he struggled down the stretch during the season and in critical moments during games.
I am neither supporting nor degrading his performance, but looking at the facts. Orton is not a bad quarterback. The difference between him and Jake Plummer, who took Denver to the AFC Championship game, is that Plummer had a great defense and a running game. Orton did his best with what he had and with his ability as a quarterback. Unfortunately for Denver, it wasn't good enough and part of the reason Denver was 3-10 when he was replaced. Orton finished with and efficiency of 73.0, good enough for 19th in the NFL for 2010.
- In 5 of his 13 games, he had over 40 attempts with two of those over 50 attempts
- He had 5 games with at least one touchdown and no turnovers - in only one (at Arizona) of these games did he surpass the 40 attempt mark
- He had only 1 multiple interception game and only 3 multiple turnover games
- He had 5 games with an accuracy under 60 percent with 4 under 50 percent
- He had 5 games with at least 64 percent accuracy, with 3 over 70 percent
- In 7 games he was sacked at least 3 times
- In 6 games he was sacked either once or zero times
- He had a QB rating of 89.7 in home games
- He had a QB rating of 58.9 in away games
So where does this put Denver with Kyle Orton as the veteran choice for quarterback?
Despite having a new head coach, most of the offense remains in tact. The biggest question comes with his supporting cast. Without diving into the running back, wide receiver/tight end and offensive line situations, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that it takes a team to win. I know, deep stuff, but that is as simple as I can make it.
I love Tim Tebow as a person, as a leader, as a football player and even as a quarterback. However, he needs more time. Kyle Orton showed in the Kansas City game in Denver what is possible. That game, Denver actually played defense and also ran the ball effectively. Kyle Orton is still the best option as of right now. His experience and ability to manage the game is very important to a young team coming together. The stats indicate he may never be as good as Brees, Roethlisberger, Rivers or maybe even Matt Ryan, but he can play well.
Kyle Orton should remain the starter until Tim Tebow clearly demonstrates to the coaching staff he is the quarterback for the future. Much of his success, or Tebow's, will be determined by the players around him. I will normally use more stats and provide an actual solution, but too much of what happened in 2010 revolved around Denver suffering from a huge void in talent at almost every position and too many injuries to key players.
Next up, Part Two: Running Backs