For the better part of 4 quarters on Sunday the Buffalo Bills offense looked inept. Sure, they lost their top two running backs in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, but they still looked lost. 4 turnovers (2 in the red zone). Missed assignments. Miss Communication. It was beyond ugly but none the less, at the end of the game it was a win.
I’ve never been one that bashes or talks down about EJ Manuel. In fact I have been one of his biggest supporters since the day the Buffalo Bills drafted him. That being said, I believed that when the Bills made the choice to bench him for Kyle Orton that it was the right move. It’s not that EJ lacks the physical talent to succeed at an NFL level. What he lacked was confidence. He doubted himself way too much. To be a successful NFL quarterback you need to believe that every single pass you throw is going to result in great things. You need to believe that you are “the man” and that you will get the job done. That’s something that EJ struggled with since day one and something that he will get better with over time. It’s also something that Kyle Orton is a master of.
Kyle Orton got his proverbial brains beat in during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, Kyle Orton threw a terrible interception on pass that was way too high over the middle. However, he was also sacked 6 times and put under pressure for most of the afternoon. On the Bills first play from scrimmage Orton was hammered with a blow to the head. It was a sign of things to come. The Vikings defensive line made Sunday hell for Kyle Orton. It seemed like every single time he dropped back too pass there was a man in his face or knocking him to the ground.
When Kyle Orton got the ball back with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday he had one thing on his mind: he was going to win this football game. In the huddle he told his teammates “We’ve got this”. He was 100 percent confident that he was going to lead the Bills down the field and win the game. On that game winning drive Kyle Orton was once again under pressure. Pressure from the game situation, pressure because of the offensive line, and pressure because some of his most trusted receivers dropped passes. None of it fazed him.
It was 2nd and 17 and Kyle Orton needed a big play. He saw Scott Chandler open for a gain of at least 15 yards, if not the first down. He threw a perfect pass right into his hands but Scott Chandler dropped the ball. Most quarterbacks would refuse to throw another pass his way, but not Kyle Orton.
Two plays later and the game was on the line. It was 4th and 20 yards to go. Kyle Orton knew exactly where he wanted to go with the ball. Before his back foot even planted on his drop he was starting to throw the ball to none other than Scott Chandler. It was a bullet, it was a strike, and it resulted in a game saving first down for the Buffalo Bills. Kyle Orton made one of his best plays to save the game and it came by throwing the ball to a guy who just dropped a huge pass two plays earlier. That was only the beginning.
:27 seconds remained after the officials called a questionable intentional grounding penalty on Orton. It was a play in which the receiver ran the wrong route and the offensive line broke down in pass protection. The officials threw the flag (albeit late) for intentional grounding. It was now 3rd and long. Kyle Orton knew the next play could decide the game. He took the snap and knew exactly what to do.
With one pump fake (a move only a veteran quarterback can sell a starting NFL safety to bite on) Kyle Orton was able to deliver a pass to Chris Hogan that put the Bills on the cusp of a miraculous come from behind victory. The pump fake, which is a play that only veteran quarterbacks can use effectively, caused the safety to bite on the middle of the field and allowed him to throw the ball to Hogan. Hogan did the rest, hauling in the ball and placing the Bills on the goal line with a chance to win the game.
On the game winning touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins, Kyle Orton read the defense perfectly. It was man-to-man coverage with a safety over the top. The safety stared in on running back Boobie Dixon and Kyle Orton threw the ball to Sammy Watkins and the game was all but over. The Bills had a game winning drive courtesy of a confidant, veteran quarterback that trusted in himself and his teammates to get the job done with the game on the line.
While Kyle Orton may not be perfect, he is the perfect man for the job for the Bills right now. He is a veteran operating behind a very suspect offensive line. He will make mistakes but he will make great plays. Most importantly, his confidence in himself is what will help the Bills be a better team this year and hopefully make that long overdue trip to the playoffs.