November 2, 2008 could prove to be the turning point in the Chicago Bears 2008 season. On one heartbreaking play deep in the 2nd Quarter of the Bears vs. Lions game, Kyle Orton decided to tuck and run with the ball towards the sideline. As the tackler and Orton landed on the ground, another player came up and landed on Orton with his legs in the crunchy sit up position. As Kyle tried extending his legs, he came up with a high ankle sprain, a victim of the tackler that hit him second while he was on the ground. Orton had to be carted off the field and left under a standing ovation by the fans in Soldier Field.
Stepping on the field to replace Orton at the quarterback position was our hero, Rex Grossman. Of course nothing has really changed with Rex. He still has not matured, learned how to complete passes, or manage the football game. You can see the differences and why the Bears chose Kyle over Rex by their play on the field Sunday.
As a fan watches both of these players control the game from behind center, they can notice that a level of maturity. Orton will line up behind the offensive line and audible based on what defenses he sees from the other team. He takes control similarly to Payton Manning (no I’m not calling him Manning) in his ability to change plays. Grossman on the other hand gets up to the line and just goes. He has no intention in reading what the other team is doing on defense and just hopes the play works well.
Another way a fan would be able to tell the difference between the two quarterbacks is by watching them on the sideline after drives. Kyle Orton will go over to the coach holding the photos from the drive and discuss things with the coach and Caleb Hanie. This goes on while Rex is standing off in Rex-land with his helmet in his hand isolated from everyone. He may walk over to the coach with the photos but has admitted that he walks away pretty much as soon as he gets over by the coach.
Another thing that Orton has learned how to do is complete passes and goes through all his progressions. Kyle will drop back and search for his best option. The best attribute for Orton has a feel for when he has to step up in the pocket before it collapses and is willing to get rid of the ball if need be. Grossman, however, tends to not realize when he needs to get rid of the ball. He has a habit of standing in the back of the pocket where it actually collapses and doesn’t step up. This opens him up to the stripping of the ball by defenders because he doesn’t protect it in his stance. Hopefully Sunday’s game versus the Titans will not prove too much for Rex to handle because of the rush their defensive line could produce. We’ll have to see.
Managing the game seems to be Kyle Orton’s forte. He makes decisions based on what’s best for the team. An example is how Kyle, if pressure does collapse on him, will be willing to throw the ball away than take a sack and a loss. For instance it’s 2nd and 5 yards because Forte does what Forte does best and gets five yards out of no hole. Kyle snaps the ball and cannot find a wide receiver open with the pocket collapsing. He scrambles out of the pocket box (the area between the two tackles on the offensive line) and throws the ball away before he is hit. Another example of managing the game is what I mentioned earlier about him calling an audible at the line of scrimmage because the play Ron Turner (Offensive Coordinator) isn’t going to work against the defense the team is showing pre-snap of the ball. My final example is how Orton is willing to dump the ball of to the full back, running back or whatever short yardage receiver there is. He doesn’t always have to force the ball into traffic just because that’s what the idea was going into the play. On the contrary, he is willing to dump the ball off get 4-5 yards and still have a manageable 2nd or 3rd down play.
Rex Grossman’s idea of managing the game consists of throwing the ball 40 yards on 3rd and 2. Yes, I know it could be the offensive coordinator calling that shot but still just because a play is designed that way you don’t have to play it. Think about this, what did the Colts do best against the Bears in the Super Bowl? They dumped the ball off in front of the linebackers, getting short gains and moving the ball consistently. It also can get you in a rhythm as an offense and help get his timing down. Apparently Rex is too stubborn to learn that. I don’t remember too many of those dump off plays from Rex last Sunday except for one that went straight to the Tight End at the line of scrimmage (sorry cant remember exactly which one it was) but there was a defender literally on his back. The play went for no gain and if I remember right that was 3rd down.
The initial reports on Orton’s ankle injury had him out for 4 weeks. Unfortunately for one man in Chicago, it doesn’t seem to be playing out that way. As of 5pm, at least according to sources on ESPN Radio 1000AM, Kyle did not practice on Thursday but hasn’t ruled out playing Sunday afternoon. My personal thoughts on the matter is that Orton is hurt and I don’t think that Jevon Kearse, Albert Haynesworth and the other defensive linemen for the Titans will give whoever it is an easy day off. Therefore if I was Coach Lovie Smith I’d have Rex Grossman as the starting Quarterback and make sure that the future quarterback doesn’t become injured permanently over the haul.
There are several important decisions in coaching that are made during the week and during the game. Unfortunately it does bring about the return of Grossman but I feel can survive this weekend. He needs to protect the ball and manage the game. We’ll have to wait and see if he has learned. My prediction is that the Titans win this one big by at least 2-3 scores.