Kyle Orton and the Buffalo Bills: A Perfect Fit


For the better part of his 10 year career Kyle Orton was either looking over his shoulder or constantly deemed “just not good enough”. When Orton signed with the Bills just prior to the start of the 2014 season it was deemed to be a move out of necessity: the Bills needed a competent veteran quarterback in the event of an injury or poor play of quarterback EJ Manuel. Luckily for Orton and the Bills it has been a perfect match.

In his rookie season with the Chicago Bears, Kyle Orton led the Bears to a 10-5 record. His numbers were not overly impressive (9 touchdowns to 13 interceptions) but he was a rookie and played good enough for them to clinch a playoff berth. Unfortunately for Orton the Bears replaced him just prior to the playoffs. The Bears lost their first playoff game, and it would be more than a full year before Orton got into another regular season NFL game.

In 2008 Kyle Orton led the Bears to a 9-7 record and they just missed the playoffs. Orton had good numbers on the season (18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) but the Bears front office decided that he “wasn’t good enough” and traded him away to Denver for quarterback Jay Cutler. Ironically the Bears are still trying to figure out if Cutler (despite resigning him to a massive contract) is “good enough”.

In 2009 and 2010 Kyle Orton had good years in Denver. Despite missing the playoffs for two consecutive years, Orton put up great numbers. In 2009 Orton threw for 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and in 2010 he through for 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Orton played through injuries both years (most likely due in part to fear of losing his starting job). Then, at the end of the 2009 season the Broncos drafted Tim Tebow. Kyle Orton was once again looking over his shoulder.

While Orton and the Broncos had some success in 2009 and 2010, the fans were relatively quite about calling for Tebow to start for the Broncos. However, when they got off to a poor start in 2011, the calls for Tebow to replace Orton grew louder. The Broncos listened to the calls for Tebow and inserted him into the starting lineup. Orton was cut and eventually signed with the Chiefs. Ironically in week 17 Orton returned to Denver and beat Tebow and Broncos and nearly ruined their playoff aspirations, however a Raiders loss allowed Denver to make the playoffs.

After the 2011 season the Chiefs declined to bring Kyle Orton back as quarterback despite playing well for the Chiefs. Kansas City decided that Orton was “not good enough” and decided to go with Matt Cassel (who the Chiefs signed to a huge contract after the 2009 season). Ironically enough Cassel had a horrendous year in 2012, throwing 6 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  Cassel was then cut by the Chiefs after the 2012 season.

When the Chiefs decided not to bring Kyle Orton back, he decided to sign with the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was growing frustrated with quarterback Tony Romo and wanted a viable option behind Romo. Jones guaranteed Orton a chance to start and told him that the quarterback position was “up for grabs” heading into the 2012 season. Apparently Jones definition of “chance to start” was barely playing at all. In his 2 years in Dallas Kyle Orton only played in 4 games, starting only 1. Following the 2013 season  Orton decided that he had enough.

Kyle Orton was at a crossroads in his career after the 2013 season. For the majority of his career he was fighting the stigma of “not good enough” or constantly in a “battle” for the starting quarterback job. He felt betrayed by the Cowboys and did not want to spend another year as a member of an organization that he felt had lied to him. He felt he was good enough to be a starter in the NFL and he felt that he was never going to get that opportunity with the Cowboys. Orton was cut by the Cowboys prior to the 2014 NFL preseason.

Following a poor display of play by all quarterbacks on the roster during preseason, the Bills decided they had to make a move and sign a reliable veteran quarterback before the 2014 season started. The Bills turned to Kyle Orton. Orton was eager to sign with a team that was honest and upfront with him, and gave him the chance to play and not look over his shoulder and worry about being told he “wasn’t good enough”. Beginning in week 5 Kyle Orton was given the chance to start for the Bills and has never looked back, amassing a 3-1 record to go along with 9 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions.

Kyle Orton has been exactly what the Bills and their fans wanted in a quarterback. For the first time in his career Kyle Orton doesn’t have to look over his shoulder and worry about not being “good enough”. Orton has been embraced by the Bills fan base who are more than appreciative of competent and reliable quarterback play.

For the past 14 years the Bills had been searching for a quarterback and for the past 10 years Kyle Orton had been searching for a team that would give him a chance. Thankfully the Bills and Orton were finally able to provide each other with the answer they had both been searching for.