Could the Cowboys be Hedging their Bets by Signing Kyle Orton?

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bill-swift - March 16, 2012

When the Cowboys signed Kyle Orton to a three-year contract for $17.5 million it was likely in order to make sure that the team had a capable quarterback to back up Tony Romo in the event of another injury.

Since 2008 Romo has missed 13 games; 10 of them in 2010 when he broke his collarbone. Over those games the team had what were once capable veteran QBs, Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna, to take his place. Along with young Stephen McGee (who started and won one game), the Cowboys back up signal callers were only 6-7.

With the talent that the ‘Boys have had an easy argument could be made that the trouble (besides keeping Romo healthy) has been the back-up QB. So it makes sense to sign a proven, younger player.

However, what if the problem is not keeping Romo healthy, but Romo himself?

Since taking over the starter's job in Big D, Tony Romo has posted a pretty impressive stat line. In 99 games he has earned a QB rating of 96.9, the second highest career rating in NFL history. He's completed close to 65 percent of his passes, thrown for just under 21,000 yards, and thrown 149 TDs while only throwing 72 interceptions.

The stats are great; they make the game exciting. They don't translate directly into wins though. In fact, with the exception of some of his girlfriends and his golf game, Tony Romo has become known more for failing to come through in big games (Dallas fans will never forget the epic gaffe in Seattle).

Romo has become known as a choker. While the team's issues are not solely his fault, he has become known as one of the least dependable guys on the field. Jerry Jones expressed as much when he said that the only difference between the Cowboys and the Giants last season was Eli Manning.

Enter Kyle Orton.

Orton has been one of the least respected players in the league for most of his career; Chicago was always looking to get someone else when he was there, and thought nothing of replacing him even when he was winning games. Denver wasted little time getting rid of him as soon as they had the flavor of the month (Tebow).

It's kind of surprising considering that he has done well with less talent than Romo has had in Dallas. True, Orton has been able to work with some pretty good receivers, i.e. Brandon Marshall and Brandon Lloyd, but considering how they have done without him the argument could be made that their success was because of him (although Marshall was pretty good with Jay Cutler throwing the ball to him as well).

Statistically the two are not much different, although Romo is better in just about every category. The only one where Orton really comes close to Romo is passing yards per game; Orton has 204.7 next to Romo's 210.4.

So what makes Kyle Orton a possible solution to Tony Romo? By the numbers, Romo is clearly a better quarterback. Should he have many more debacles like the Jets game (2011 season opener) it would not be shocking to see Kyle Orton get a shot.

Until Romo can prove that he is reliable and can win the big games all the statistics in the world will not matter. With Orton getting paid just under $6 million a year it seems a little farfetched that Jerry Jones hasn't at least thought about starting the Purdue grad.

Article by Travis Pulver

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