They both joined the team in 2009. Orton threw for over 3,800 yards that year with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He posted similar numbers the following season. Dawkins didn’t make Orton out to be Peyton Manning (he went 12-21 as the starter with the Broncos) but cautioned those who are ready to dismiss the Cowboys altogether because he will be playing quarterback Sunday night instead of Tony Romo.
“I watched him play in Denver, so I know that he can complete some of the quick rhythm throws, some of the quick outs and curl routes. He’s not the best downfield thrower there is but he can complete passes, so you can’t get overconfident,” said Dawkins during his weekly appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic.
“He’s a guy that can lead a football team. He’s a guy that can grab the reins. He’s somebody that feels comfortable playing the position. It’s not a new thing to him. There are a lot of veteran guys that play the position and it still seems new to them, but it’s not new to him. He can direct drives, he can put points on the board and they do have weapons in Dallas for him to get the ball to so it’s not like everything is on his shoulders. I’m pretty sure they will run the ball a little bit more and rely more on the play action pass, so you have to respect this dude.You can’t go in as a defense saying, ‘It’s not Tony Romo, he’s not going to be able to keep plays alive.’ You have to respect him.”
An ESPN report emerged late Monday afternoon that Romo will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a herniated disc in his back. Dallas head coach Jason Garrett did not confirm the report at his press conference, but gave Orton a vote of confidence should he be the quarterback for Sunday night’s showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys that will decide the NFC East.
“Feel great about Kyle Orton,” Garrett said. “We’ll evaluate Tony on a day by day this week. In the meantime Kyle will be the guy that’s taking the snaps until Tony is ready to go.”
The 31-year-old Orton has a career record of 35-34, completing 58 percent of his throws for just shy of 15,000 yards with 81 touchdowns and 57 interceptions. The Purdue product hasn’t started since 2011. He finished that season with the Chiefs after being released by Denver, which opted to start Tim Tebow over him following a 1-4 start.
“He’s seen enough football, he’s a smart enough dude to be able to take in the offense in its totality and be able to go out and run the same exact plays,” said Dawkins. “He may not be able to keep plays alive like Tony Romo does by scrambling and moving around in the pocket, but he can run the exact same offense…He can step back, he can read blitz protections, he can set protections up and he can get the ball to where it belongs. I don’t think you can go into this game thinking that we can have a different defensive game plan because it’s not the starter.”