The Dallas Cowboys were very active in free agency during the offseason. The big signings included Brandon Carr for $50.1 million dollars, a signing that needed to be made in order to shore up the secondary. Then there were the two offensive lineman signings, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Perhaps the last big name signing that many fans will remember was linebacker Dan Connor, but what about the backup quarterback we inked this offseason?
The Cowboys signed Kyle Orton to a three-year, $10.5 million dollar contract and it was a very smart move by the front office. This is a league where you need to have good depth at important positions such as quarterback. We had a very good backup in Jon Kitna, but it was his time to go. Let's all thank Kitna for what he did as a Cowboy because he was a very solid player when he was thrown into the lineup. Thank you for your service Jon, and I wish you the best of luck in your retirement.
How important is the backup quarterback? If you ask me, I think you must have a reliable option behind your starter. Injuries happen and you never know when your #1 franchise quarterback will be out for weeks.
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One reason that I felt Orton was a big signing for Dallas was due to the fact that Stephen McGee is not ready to be this team's backup quarterback. McGee is well on his way to not even making the team this summer because he really hasn't grown as a quarterback during his three seasons in Dallas. Now, I actually like McGee and he is a very nice young man. He is very athletic and he has a decent arm, but his decision making is what will keep him from ever developing into a reliable NFL quarterback. If he doesn't show the Cowboys anything in training camp, he will become another tragedy from the 2009 draft class.
Remember when the Cowboys tried to sneak Matt Moore onto the practice squad instead of signing him to the 53-man roster? Well, they got really greedy in 2007 because Moore flashed starter potential throughout the pre-season and training camp. Due to losing Moore, the Cowboys' backup for Tony Romo was Brad Johnson. Johnson had no arm strength left at all and could barely throw the ball over 20 yards down the field. When Romo suffered a broken finger and missed a string of games, Johnson took over at quarterback.
The 2008 season was basically a wash after the three-game stint with Brad Johnson at quarterback. Johnson was lucky when the defense won him a game and brought his record to 1-2. The Cowboys finished 9-7 that year, had Johnson won those three-games, we would have made the playoffs.
All it takes is something as simple as a pinkie injury and you could enter the game with a very bad quarterback. Fortunately, that won't be happening again because the Cowboys have a legitimate option in Orton. It is comforting to know that we have a quarterback with experience who can throw the ball down the field.
Kyle Orton Career Numbers
- 80 TD, 57 INT
- 14,532 yards
- 58.3 completion percentage
- 79.4 passer rating
Orton was stuck behind Rex Grossman for most of his career as a Chicago Bear. He finally received his chance to show what he could do as the starter during the 2008 season. Orton put up respectable numbers that year, throwing for 2,972 yards, 18 TD and 11 INT. He was dealt to Denver as a big part of the Jay Cutler deal that brought Cutler to the Bears. Orton had his best season in the NFL in 2009, completing 62 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,802 yards, 21 TD and 12 INT. Orton was the casualty of the Tim Tebow mania that was going on in Denver even though he had another solid season statistically in 2010.
The Broncos released him and the Cowboys actually put a claim in for him, but the Kansas City Chiefs had a higher waiver priority and secured his services. Orton had a big decision to make when he hit free agency this year. His comments from back in March tell us why he chose the Cowboys over other NFL teams.
"It just fit for what I was looking for," Orton said Tuesday while appearing on New School with Shan & RJ on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "I had an idea of what I wanted to do kind of going into free agency, and you don't get too many chances to hook up with an organization like the Cowboys. From everybody that I had talked to throughout the whole process, they just had rave reviews of the organization."
"Talking to a guy like Jon Kitna, he just had great things to say about working with Tony, and I'm just excited for it."
Orton added: "I've been in a couple situations where I compete with this guy, compete with that guy, and long term it never works out for anybody. I just wanted to be in a situation where I knew my role and could work to fulfill that role in the best way. I just felt with the Cowboys that was the best chance for me."
It's comforting to know that Orton wanted to come here, I want to know that our players want to be in Dallas. This is a great opportunity for both parties involved. The Cowboys will have a reliable quarterback on the roster who can step in and get the job done. Orton may not be a Pro Bowl quarterback, but he is a very solid one with 69 NFL starts under his belt. He can play at a high level in this league and sometimes it can become very difficult to find a good backup quarterback.
Orton is also a fan of Jason Garrett's offensive system.
"I've kind of followed his system throughout," Orton said. "I think Jason has a great system, one that you get the ball out on time, and you should have guys running open with the talent we have and the guys in the backfield."
Orton is the type of quarterback that could thrive in the right type of system. The Air Garrett system will be perfect for him because it will allow him to spread the ball around to all of the options we have in this offense. If you add in the strong running game, Orton could easily step in and we wouldn't suffer because of him. Romo has been no stranger to injuries the past few years, so there is a possibility we may see Orton on the field.
Jason Garrett definitely had strong input on who was going to be our backup quarterback. Garrett spoke very highly of Orton after signing him.
"He’s a real pro," Garrett said of Orton. "I think he understands the situation. He’s been a starter in this league. He’s been a backup in this league. I think he understands the importance of team chemistry and chemistry within that quarterback room."
The former fourth-round pick from Purdue is only 29 years old. Orton is young enough to learn and grow as a player under Tony Romo. I believe that Romo and Orton will work and push each other to become better football players. This may not be a marquee signing, but this was one of the most important decisions made by the front office in the offseason.
I would hate to see Romo go down, because he gives us the best chance to win every game, but Orton will save this team from ruining the season. Having a quality backup quarterback like Kyle Orton should allow this team to march forward into the playoffs.