Kyle Orton and the Double Standard of Bears Fans

Jack MarchettiCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2008

On a night with playoff implications on the line, the Bears offense combined for 46 yards in the first half. Dropped passes, underthrown balls, ineptitude to the nth degree—and yet the boo birds weren't in full throat.

Do the frozen faithful just accept it?  Are we simply used to watching a clueless passer struggle to throw a deep pass or perhaps look off a safety?  Or were the boo birds simply silent because the signal caller had a "1" in front of his "8" and his name wasn't Rex Grossman?

Rex Grossman has been the most vilified athlete in Chicago this century. After three injury-plagued seasons, he helped lead his team to the Super Bowl, which they eventually lost.  They went as far as they could and lost to a better team.

The following season, a disastrous decision to let Thomas Jones go and hand the keys to Cedric Benson, coupled with the firing of Ron Rivera, led to the Bears' demise more than any interception Rex Grossman threw.  Yet the Chicago fans had enough.

Rex is not our quarterback.

Never mind the perennial deep threat or the sheer excitement (see nervousness) brought by each play when number eight stepped back to pass—the Bear fan wanted meat and potatoes football.  Five-yard passes, three-yard runs up the gut, and relying on your special teams for points. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

I'm confused.

Kyle Orton has been awful since the first half of the Detroit game.  The same game in which he was injured. The same game Rex Grossman was brought in to save.  Yet Grossman was booed as he stepped on the field. He was booed for overthrowing Devin Hester. He was criticized for spiking the ball too hard.

What is the problem with Chicago football fans?

Kyle Orton can't throw a pass with any accuracy over 15 yards.  This hasn't changed since the scouting report on him when he left Purdue.

He and Olin Kreutz have combined for over three mishandled QB-center exchanges. Yet now it's Kreutz's fault.  Not Orton's.

Orton has been throwing interceptions at an alarming rate.  Not his fault—look at his receivers.  Devin Hester is learning.

Orton had a first half of monumental mediocrity—meh, it was cold out. 

The Chicago Fan: “Give Orton a break.”

Orton has now started more games than Rex Grossman.  He has more experience.  Yet in last night's game he laser-guided two passes right to the Packers in very critical situations.  I didn't hear boos.  I didn't hear the calls for Caleb Hanie.

So what gives, Chicago?

Do we give Orton the slack that Grossman never got?  Grossman was a first round pick, after all, and with that comes expectations Orton never had. Grossman showed flashes of brilliance early in 2006 and in the playoffs.  Did he set our expectations too high?  Are we so frustrated with him because we know what he's capable of?  Is Kyle who we thought he was—a mediocre game manager with a bum ankle who seems to just win?

For now, I'll take it.  The team obviously believes in him.  They did make him a captain. Perhaps Orton’s greatest strength is intangible, and that may be his saving grace—for better or worse, he isn’t Rex Grossman.