The Bears have begun this season with a stretch of solid play. At moments the Bears have looked as good as anyone out on the field. Then at times they have gone several series in a row where they have looked as lost as anyone on the field. However there is one aspect of the team that has steadily been improving since day one.
That one aspect has been the position of quarterback, where Kyle Orton has taken every snap from under center for the first seven games. Of course, usually not much is expected from a Bears' quarterback, but this year is different.
The Bears' 4-3 record is better than many had predicted. This is in no doubt due to play of Orton.
Unspectacular, but stable and consistent play is what prevailed at the beginning of the season for the Bears' young quarterback. At first, it was just the same as any of the past few years. Don’t lose the game and let’s see if the defense and special teams can come up with something big. This philosophy is beginning to deteriorate.
In the games before this week’s bye Orton has produced four games of over 250 yards passing, four games with multiple touchdowns, and even two games with ratings higher than 110. All of these are marks of an up and coming quarterback.
His overall statistics show 1,669 yards, 10 touchdowns, and a 91.4 rating. Compare that with other accomplished quarterbacks such as Eli Manning (1,389, 8 tds, 89.1), and Peyton Manning (1,531, 8 tds, 80), Kyle Orton does just fine. Especially compared to Donovan McNabb, (1,576, 8 tds, 93.2) who the Bears were rumored to be looking into a trade for, Orton excels when compared to his colleagues.
With numbers like these there is no reason that Orton can be anything but incredible, even more so when you factor in that Orton has no proven targets. His receivers are either young and inexperienced or old and slow. In fact, the only consistent playmaker Orton has is Devin Hester, a converted cornerback and return man, who just barely mastered lining up onside.
Orton’s play during the first part of this season has opened up the offense and allowed for big plays to be made; however, this bye week represents a pivotal time for both the Bears' season and the development of Orton.
In his last three games before the bye Orton had a rating of 107.9. If the bye week doesn’t halt Orton’s success but merely allows him to review tape and find out what does and doesn’t work in this offense then he is only going to be prone to more success. Things such as allowing Orton to run more no-huddle offense will only help.
If Turner continues to open up options for Orton then there is no reason to think that we will see anything but more yards and touchdowns. It has become increasingly obvious that Orton has learned to make the necessary throws. Orton has already gained the trust of his team and he is 25-years-old. With a few more pieces in place we could see a truly potent offense, comparable to that of the Colts or Patriots.
The two possible factors that may hold back Orton’s success is the coming pressure of leading a team which is in first place and the lowering temperatures and violent weather that will come in these winter months. If Orton can embrace the challenge in front of him, rather than crumble like former starter Rex Grossman, we will see the beginning of an era at quarterback for the Chicago Bears.