I don't know about the rest of Bear Nation, but there is not a single person on the Chicago Bears football team that I'm rooting for more than Kyle Orton.
No, I'm not one of those crazy Bear fans that are putting Kyle Orton into the NFL MVP mix. I'm an optimist, but not that much of one.
However, it was such a breath of fresh air to see a quarterback comfortable in the pocket. It was a relief to see a quarterback that was not afraid to actually STEP INTO the pocket and throw a strong pass while getting hit. I also found it pleasing to see Orton prove some people wrong, the people that say Rex's arm is so much stronger than Orton's.
While Orton did not necessarily throw a real deep pass during the game, he showcased a fairly accurate and strong throwing arm throughout the evening.
There was a different feel to that position than I've felt as a fan in quite awhile, and I think it has to do with the confidence level in Kyle Orton. If you look back at the last four seasons, this REALLY IS Orton's first shot as the Bears' starting quarterback.
No...you can't count 2005. While he did start and win 10 games, he was nothing more than a bandage at the quarterback position. Ron Turner has even been quoted of saying that they kept it very basic for him, and rightly so. After all, he was a rookie.
You also cannot count the end of last season, due to the fact that the Bears were eliminated from playoff contention. He was playing those three games because someone else was not up to snuff. In truth, Kyle Orton was trying out to be the 2008 starting quarterback, and that is where I really believe Orton truly won the job.
While he wasn't unbelievable, but he was efficient, and he didn't hurt the Bears, only throwing one pick in the three games. Not to mention that two of those teams still had something significant to play for.
Most importantly, he was still in the shadow of Rex Grossman. He may have seen a little more light, but he was still in the dark, and that's the key to 2008. For the first time, ever, he's actually earned, not inherited, being placed ahead of Rex.
He actually feels important to the Bears' franchise now, and what we saw against the 49ers was the first example of a quarterback feeling that confidence. He's never felt that since he was a college boy, and I'm looking forward to seeing what that produces.
Hopefully I'll get to see the guy I couldn't stand while he was at Purdue, when he was torching Illinois and every other Big-10 team.