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Roster Rundown: Orton Provides Solid Backup Late

Posted Feb 7, 2014


Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features quarterback Kyle Orton.)

Name: Kyle Orton
Position: Quarterback
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 225
Experience: 9 seasons
College: Purdue

Key stat: In his only start in Dallas, Orton started for an injured Tony Romo in the win-or-go-home Week 17 finale last season, going 30-for-46 for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.

Contract Status: Signed through 2014.

2013 Impact: As a front office you are always trying to protect yourself when you are building your roster. You never want to be caught in a situation where you are compromised or held hostage because you didn’t have a plan in place if you lost a key player. Jerry Jones and the staff had a plan in place when they committed a nice portion of their salary cap to Kyle Orton as their backup quarterback. When you go into a season, you plan on having your quarterback for the entire season but as this team found out in Week 16 in a game on the road, that can all change in a flash. Kyle Orton made one start this past season in a game with so much riding on the line and the result was not what he and the club wanted but he was not the sole reason for the defeat. It would have been nice for him to connect on those passes down the field and various points in the game but that wasn’t the case. His last pass was his worse but up until that point, he had played well for Jason Garrett and had given his teammates a chance to win the game. With Orton, you are not going to get a quarterback that is going to beat himself and that is why the Cowboys are comfortable with him as the backup. He was ready to play that game against the Eagles, as he was the previous 15 other ones. This is where Kyle Orton helps you the most is having that security to know if it was for one game or more, he will be ready to take the ball and there are other teams around the league that cannot say that.

Where He Fits: With all indications that the back surgery that Tony Romo went through in January, will be healed in time for training camp in Oxnard, there still has to be a cautious approach going forward. Kyle Orton will once again serve as his backup in the 2014 season but with what we know about Romo, there is always that possibility that we could see him sooner than later. What this front office also needs to consider and take advantage of, is to use Orton as a bridge to develop a young quarterback behind him. This is where they should consider drafting a quarterback for the future and allowing him to sit an entire season to watch and learn. By having a player that has the skill level of Orton, there is no pressure to have to play that rookie quarterback. The way the front office has set this up, it gives them the best chance to make the smoothest transition into the future by having a quality backup already in the mix.  


Writers' Analysis:

Rowan Kavner: With so much time off, I would have expected more rust than Orton displayed in nearly getting the Cowboys to the postseason in Week 17. His final game-sealing interception will be what people remember most, but throwing for 358 yards in his only start in the last two seasons with so little game-time experience was commendable. He had thrown just 15 combined passes in 2012 and 2013 prior to that season finale, 10 of which came against the Bears in 2012 and five of which came against the Bears a year later. There were times in the finale the game looked like it was moving a little faster than he was expecting, but for the most part he gave the Cowboys a chance to win and provided everything that should be asked and expected from a backup quarterback filling in with so much on the line. The Cowboys could decide to draft a young quarterback soon, but Orton still appears to be one of the top backup signal callers in the league. His late-season performance should give the Cowboys optimism he can win games if Tony Romo can’t play all 16 games in 2014.

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