It's hard to not try and look for a bigger meaning for the Kansas City Chiefs victory Sunday afternoon over the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. But for the first time in a long while the Chiefs offense, led by new starting quarterback Kyle Orton, seemed to move the ball up and down the field against a defense that didn't have an answer for the Chiefs offense.
Orton led the Chiefs with a 23-31 performance for 299 yards and no turnovers while out-shining the 2011 MVP-favorite Aaron Rodgers. If you would have said that one of these quarterbacks would have completed over 70% of his passes and throw for just under 300 yards and lead his team to victory, you wouldn't have put money on that being Orton. Rodgers had his troubles with his receivers dropping passes and the loss of Greg Jennings seemed to make a bigger difference than most thought it would have been coming into the game. But it was Orton that looked comfortable in the pocket going through his progressions and check-downs, the screen pass worked well for the Chiefs and despite a few off-timed back-shoulder throws, there was a lot to feel good about with Orton's game on Sunday.
That's exactly why giving Orton the keys to the car after just one game is the best idea for the Chiefs headed into the final two (possibly more) games of the season, and even into next year. While Matt Cassel did make the Pro Bowl last season for the Chiefs based on a stellar statistical year, his ceiling became visible and he consistently struggled to open up a passing offense that took Kyle Orton two weeks of practice to succeed with.
The Romeo Crennel era as head coach for the Chiefs could not have begun with a bigger or better moment. At Arrowhead stadium against the undefeated defending Super Bowl champs with a brand new quarterback when a slim hope of the playoffs still hangs in the balance. Orton and Crennel are tied together with this moment and if this is to be one of those moments that helps the Chiefs build towards the future, it'd be tough to see Cassel back under center to start next season AND think that any kind of momentum from Sunday's victory would carry on with the team.
Orton completed passes of 10+ yards to eight different receivers on Sunday. This is by far the best win the Chiefs have had in the last couple of years and they did it with a quarterback who said it was as much fun as he's had in a while. Orton seemed to enjoy himself on Sunday and while he might still not be a top-5 elite quarterback in the NFL right now, he was good enough to beat one in Aaron Rodgers and that's something no other quarterback on the Chiefs roster, healthy or not, can say right now. Kyle Orton gives the Chiefs a better chance to win next Saturday against the Raiders than any other quarterback on the roster right now, and judging Sunday's game, he's earned the right to see what he could do with a healthy Jamaal Charles running the ball next season.
The problem with going with Cassel next season and not Orton is that we would be playing the "What if we kept Orton?" game as soon as Cassel struggled and it'd be tough to swallow the idea that we had already given Cassel 2 1/2 years to show us something that we'd be watching again. Cassel has three years left on his contract and around $22 million, I'm just saying that all options should be open and if they decide to move on from Cassel and go with Orton. Even if he doesn't play as well as he did today in the future, all we'd learn is that Orton isn't the guy who will lead this team deep into the playoffs, something we already know about Cassel. At worst they are both just bridging the gap to the future guy, and I'd rather cross the bridge of the guy that just beat the Green Bay Packers, even if I'm not sure yet where it's going.