Make no mistake about it, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has made a great decision in electing Kyle Orton to be his starting quarterback this season.
After a long and protracted QB derby this off-season between Orton and Rex Grossman, the announcement was made from coach Smith. It was somewhat a surprise election, as most of us favored Grossman to start the new campaign under center. However, Orton has been given the nod.
Now he is free to soar.
Orton is a likable fellow. A 4th round selection from Purdue in 2005, he lead the Bears in his rookie season due to Grossman smashing his ankle, and Chad Hutchinson being shown the door. He earned a 10-5 record as a starter his inaugural year in the league. He currently has a 12-6 record as a starter.
One of the reasons I like Orton so much, is that I think he is more solid than his turnover prone counterpart Rex Grossman.
Rex, again a nice guy, put himself under far too much pressure to win this job. He was never at ease with himself or his ability and that reflected itself on the field. In fact, he threw the ball to so many opposing defensive backs in his time, that he should have been tested for color-blindness.
Orton has maintained a level head throughout this whole affair. Yes he really wanted the job, but he didn't consume himself with the pressure in the way Grossman did. He didn't bog himself down with the weight of expectancy, he didn't try too hard and above all, he didn't take himself too seriously.
In short, he didn't do the annoying things that Grossman did repeatedly...with aplomb.
Mark my words people, Kyle Orton, the 2008 version, will rank among the NFL's best this year. Yes he had the worst QB rating in the NFL his rookie year, yes he is the laughing stock of Minnesota after a shockingly bad game there last year, but now something has changed.
Coach Smith has said he believes in him. That will mean the world to Kyle.
Orton is one of those guys who needs to feel the love. The unsurety of his standing in the NFL universe has so far made him an also-ran. Now the Grossmans' and Brian Griese's of this world are behind him (albeit not too-far), he can unleash his talent, safe in the knowledge that he has the backing of his coach and the Bears organisation.
The Bears open the season with two road games against the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers before No 18 leads the Bears out at Soldier Field on September 21st to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hopefully the home crowd will show him the same love that coach Smith has. It would really help his cause if he could boast a 2-0 record at that point.
It is possible.
The confidence soaring through the new starting quarterback will be a major advantage. Before you know it, the confidence manifests itself and spreads like wildfire throughout the team. The Bears will step onto the brand new turf at the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium on September 7th like the Last Gang In Town.
2008 could be wonderful.
Now the distractions of the off season are behind us, we can look forward to the upcoming season. Like it or not, this is the deal we have been dealt. The Bears can surprise some people this year. I just have some requests of the new starting quarterback:
1. Stay humble and likable. It gets you further than you'd think.
2. Keep the weight off.The Fat Keanu Reeves/Dave Grohl look has a place, and it's not in the NFL.
and 3. Don't make coach Smith (or me) look stupid. We believe in you Kyle Orton. You can do great things out there this season. Just relax, enjoy the show and play your game. No pressure.
Kyle Orton has permission to take-off. The air-space is clear and it's perfect weather to fly.