Kyle Orton: From Neckbeard to the Pro Bowl?
I never thought I'd say this, but I think I like Kyle Orton.
No, that is not a typo, and here is another phrase I never thought I'd say, he could potentially be a Pro Bowler.
At the start of the 2008 Chicago Bears Training Camp, the coaching staff determined there would be a head to head quarterback competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton.
Neither quarterback really had the upper hand here, Grossman had helped lead the Bears to Super Bowl XLI, but also hindered much of his teams progress. Orton, who back in 2005 helped lead the Bears to 10-5 record as a fourth round draft pick, had only a couple of games from the 2007 season to hang his hat on.
Orton and Grossman flipped a coin at the beginning of training camp to determine who would start with the first team during the preseason, Grossman won, and led his team for the first two preseason games. Neither player dazzled the coaching staff, but Orton eventually won.
Before the start of the season opener, Orton was given the honor of being named one of the Bears' captains by his fellow teammates.
With all that being said, I really was not that excited about Orton. I thought he lacked the big play capabilities, never read defenses particularly well, and was slow to release the ball. I always like Grossman's big play abilities, but realized his mistakes were happening all too often.
Over the last seven weeks, I have seen something from Orton that I have never seen from a Bears quarterback—consistency. Through the first seven games of the season, Orton has thrown for over 1600 yards, 10 touchdowns to just four interceptions. All while producing a 91.4 quarterback rating.
I would say that is an above average quarterback, but what makes me really appreciate what Orton has done, is his lack of receivers.
Brandon Lloyd started to emerge as Orton's main target in a Week Three loss to Tampa Bay as he caught six catches for 124 yards, but suffered a knee injury and has not played since. With no bonafide No. 1 receiver, and a team full of No. 3 receivers, Orton has relied on his tight ends, Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen, along with rookie running back Matt Forte.
Forte's running ability has caused teams the load the box and force Orton to pass, and he has risen to every challenge.
Orton has transformed himself from a "game manager quarterback" to a legitimate front of the line quarterback, who has the ability to call of plays at the line of scrimmage, and can read a defense well.
Sure, there are probably quarterbacks with better statistics then Orton, but like Greg Olsen said, "We feel that he’s turned into one of the top guys in the league."
So when Pro Bowl voting starts, I hope you agree with Greg and I.
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