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Can Kyle Orton lead the Cowboys to the playoffs or beyond?

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    63%
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    37%

(Total votes: 1,101)

YES
NO

Orton at least gives Dallas a chance

Archer By Todd Archer
ESPNDallas.com
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IRVING, Texas -- You can blame owner and general manager Jerry Jones for a lot of the Dallas Cowboys failings the past few years. This is his roster and he neglected to do anything to the defensive line in the offseason. He picked the defensive coordinator. He wanted Jason Garrett to give up the play calling.

But in the Christmas spirit, lets give Jones some credit for a move that will now pay off for the Cowboys: signing Kyle Orton.

When the Cowboys gave Orton a $5 million signing bonus two years ago many people scoffed because of the money the team tied up in a guy they hoped would never play and the money they would have to tie into the quarterback position with Tony Romo needing a new contract. Romo counts $11.8 million against the cap. Orton counts $1.9 million, thanks to an offseason restructuring.

But now the Cowboys find themselves with a fighting chance Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, because they have a veteran like Orton to turn to with Romo most likely unable to play because of a bad back. They do not have to turn to an untested quarterback with little to no playing time. They move to a guy with 69 career starts and a 35-34 record. They go to a guy with 81 career touchdown passes. He has not played much football in recent years -- just 15 passes in two seasons with the Cowboys -- but for a short-term run, the Cowboys are OK here.

And thats why I believe Orton can lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.

The game plan will not change much. The Cowboys will miss Romos ability to make things up. Think about how Romo was able to get away from trouble against the Redskins for big plays: Dez Bryants touchdown, Miles Austins first-down catch, Terrance Williams 51-yarder. That element is all but gone from the offense. Orton just does not have that ability. As good as the offensive line has played in the running game, it will have to improve in the passing game with Orton.

But the Cowboys do not have to hold back their game plan with Orton. He can make all the throws down the field. He is a quick decision-maker. He knows where to go with the ball. Maybe more importantly he knows where not to go with the ball. The offense will be much more about the system now than Romo. In 2010, Jon Kitna was able to make the system work. He was older than Orton but he made it work.

Will Orton play perfectly? Absolutely not. But he gives the Cowboys a chance.

The Cowboys have seen backups Josh McCown and Matt Flynn light them up. Even Matt McGloin had some success. Now its time for Orton to have success against the Eagles and possibly beyond.

And in a season as wacky as this one -- with four one-point games and six going down to the final minutes -- why not believe Orton can get it done?

Asking too much with suspect D

Taylor By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com
Archive

Kyle Orton has started 69 games in the NFL. He's a proven quarterback who isn't afraid of the big stage.

Sunday night, in the biggest outing of his career, won't work out for him.

Orton won't get the job done for the Cowboys when they face the Eagles with the NFC East title on the line. The Cowboys have gone through so much this season with injuries, ineffective play and turmoil.

Tony Romo will watch from the sidelines because of a back injury. Sure, the Cowboys are getting Romo all the treatment necessary to participate in Sunday's clash with the Eagles, but unless he can get a back transplant he's out.

The Eagles are just on a roll right now. Yes, that loss to the Vikings two weeks ago was bad, and yes it raised questions about whether the Eagles can make a playoff run.

Did you see the Eagles almost put a double-nickel on the Bears last week? It was 54-11 in case you missed it.

Jay Cutler was sacked five times. The offense tallied just 257 total yards, and running back Matt Forte averaged only 3.2 yards per carry.

Cutler is not Orton, but he's like Romo, someone who can move in the pocket and use that strong arm to get the ball downfield. But Cutler was beaten up pretty good by the Eagles defense.

Now, the Eagles defense isn't the best in the league from a statistical standpoint, but if there was a time for a defense to make a stand, it was in that Bears game.

The Cowboys have this fear they might have to win games in shootouts because the defense is so bad. Romo can compete in shootouts. He's got the weapons to do so with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten.

Not to mention Romo also uses DeMarco Murray on a consistent basis to make plays in the run and pass game.

Romo can also escape the pocket when necessary to complete throws. He did it against the Redskins in the Week 16 victory.

Can Orton do this?

Nope.

The Cowboys will need their disappointing defense to help them against the Eagles. It's asking too much.

The Eagles will handle their business and add another loss to Orton's mark and send the Cowboys home for the offseason to watch the playoffs yet again.

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