It's no secret that the Buffalo Bills are ready to trot out a new quarterback when they come to Detroit to face the Lions on Sunday. What is a little more secretive is exactly how the Bills will use Kyle Orton.
There's very little we actually know about who Kyle Orton currently is as a quarterback. He hasn't started a game since Week 17 of last season, when he filled in for an injured Tony Romo. Before that, his last consecutive starts were in 2011. Our fellow SB Nation site Buffalo Rumblings had this to say about exactly who Orton is as a quarterback:
Orton's main strength is that he is a passer - meaning that he throws a catchable ball accurately, and makes his decisions quickly. He'll also stand in the pocket and go through progressions. Orton doesn't seem to pre-determine where he is throwing the football; instead, he reads the field and is ready to throw when he finishes his drop. His short accuracy is quite good, and he throws the ball on time into passing windows. Receivers are able to catch the ball in stride and continue running.
To summarize, I'd say that Orton won't cost the Bills a game, but he might not win it for them, either. It's also hard to compare what we'll see from Orton on Sunday to how he performed last year with the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike his time with the Cowboys, where he had two full years in the system, Orton is coming in with no training camp experience and only five weeks in Nathaniel Hackett's offensive system. How acclimated he is to the Bills offense is going to be a mystery until he steps on the field on Sunday.
Because of Orton's relatively little experience within the Bills' system, I'm going to guess Hackett and head coach Doug Marrone will try to build a game plan that plays to Orton's strengths -- short accuracy and reading the defense. I also expect the Bills to put in a very limited game plan heading into Detroit. With Orton having little system familiarity, the Bills won't be able to open up the full playbook. This should play in Detroit's favor on Sunday.
The other factor Orton has in the offense is in the run game.
#Bills Film: read-option a big part of Bills rushing attack. Will they lose that with Manuel benched?— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) September 30, 2014
The Bills were a heavy read-option run team with EJ Manuel at quarterback, and that element will almost be nonexistent with Orton at the helm. The Bills will not only be forced to limit their game plan, but also change the system slightly to fit with their new quarterback.
In the passing game, you'd expect the Bills to keep it simple and quick based on the Lions' ability to pressure the quarterback. I'd expect a lot of quick, three-step drops and for the Bills to use their screen game as an extension of the run game.
Overall, Orton should give the Bills a more steady presence at the quarterback position, but it might take more than his first game to make that a reality. For the Lions, it's going to be important for them to stop the run and force Orton to win the game through the air.