Posts tagged ‘Orton’
by Sean - posted Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Over the past two years the Bears have proved to be an incredibly maddening team no matter who is under center. And in typical Bears fashion they did not disappoint last night on the lakefront with an up-and-down affair against the Philadelphia Eagles.
I am not sure if I should be more overjoyed at a win keyed by a goal-line stand with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, a stand that effectively saved the Bears season, or more upset that this team isn’t 4-0 right now.
But then again, they just wouldn’t be the Bears if they made this easy on us. So as we do after every game we look at the keys in five…
1) Not this time!
Late in the fourth quarter, the opposing team with first and goal inside the Bears 5 and the Bears on the verge of needing a game tying drive… I feel like we’ve seen this before.
But unlike two weeks ago against the Panthers the Bears defense rose to the occasion and stuffed the Eagles on four straight plays. Not enough can be said about what might turn into a season defining set of downs. The play of the entire defense was inspired, with the most credit going to Alex Brown whose effort to catch Correll Buckhalter from behind on 4th and goal saved the game.
It’s evident that the injury to Tommie Harris and a still somewhat unsettled secondary situation may keep this unit from being as dominant as they once were. But what they proved Sunday night is that they are more than capable of being dominant enough to win.
2) Yes, this time!
Late in the fourth, the Bears facing third and short and needing the conversion to seal a victory… I feel like I’ve seen this before too.
But once again unlike last week where the Bears ran Kyle Orton out on a bootleg, they gave it to their best player Matt Forte. Forte proceed to shed a tackler and put a move on Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins that allowed him to pick up the first down and effectively seal the game.
When the game is on the line you need to put the ball in your best player’s hands. That’s the mistake the Bears made in Carolina when they threw an ill-fated WR screen and then handed the ball to Jason McKie. It’s also the mistake they made against the Buccaneers when they left the ball in Orton’s hands.
When it’s crunch time Matt Forte gets the ball. Period.
3) See-saw Orton
So much for that mistake-free game-manager image Kyle Orton had, huh?
During the second half of the Buccaneer’s game and the first half against the Eagles Kyle Orton threw for over 300 yards, five touchdowns, and just one interception. But during the other two halves in those games he threw for under 150 yards and turned the ball over five times. Yikes!
I thought Orton was supposed to be the calm, ball-security answer to Bad Rex? Instead about the only difference I see so far is that Orton is capable of playing really good and really bad within the same game.
Orton has made obvious strides since 2005, but his inconsistencies and turnovers right now can still cost the Bears games. That is going to continue to hold him and the rest of the team back.
4) Injuries taking hold?
Fresh off the injury-decimated campaign of 2007 it would be fair for Bears fans to be a little over sensitive to the team’s current injury situation.
Far and away the most concerning injury is that of Tommie Harris, who was inactive Sunday night. The Bears just invested four years and $40 million in Harris and I’ve long maintained he is the second-most important player on this defense. If he is going to have knee problems all season long it’s going to be a serious issue.
Also concerning were the in-game injuries to Brandon Lloyd and Charles Tillman.
Many of the Bears defensive schemes were altered last year after Nathan Vasher went down with a torn groin muscle, and the same could hold true if the Tillman injury is serious. Without him the Bears have to dial back the aggressiveness and play their more conventional Cover-2, a move that was widely criticized last year. Tillman’s absence really could prove to be critical given everything he does on defense and special teams.
The loss of Lloyd could be equally crucial to the Bears offense. Lloyd was the only wide receiver that opposing defenses truly had to respect, and his budding connection with Kyle Orton created a legit passing threat. Now the Bears must rely on a collection of third and forth wideouts that won’t scare anyone. For the entire offenses sake, Lloyd needs to make a speedy recovery.
5) The view from the top?
Given the preseason hype of the Vikings and the early play of Aaron Rodgers it’s hard to imagine that 2-2 is good enough to have the Bears tied for first in the NFC North. And with half of their remaining games against divisional rivals the Bears will have a lot of say on if they remain there.
Still the next few weeks heading into the bye are crucial. Because of a brutal closing schedule that includes at Vikings, Jaguars, Saints on a short week, Packers, and at Texans the Bears need to build up a cushion now against some weaker opponents.
It all starts with a trip to Detroit where the Bears can avenge two inexcusable losses to the Lions last year. But the Lions are coming out of a bye week and just removed albatross Matt Millen. The game sets up to be a classic let-down game, so if the Bears are going to make that goal line stand mean something they have to carry it with them to Detroit.
by Sean - posted Friday, August 22nd, 2008
Sitting in section 207 of Soldier Field’s United Club is certainly a vantage point I’ve never seen a game before. And afterward I think I need to get my eyes checked because what I saw as the Bears lost 37-30 to the San Francisco 49ers was almost inexplicable. Touchdown passes, big plays, consistent movement from the offense. All balanced by poor tackling, constant over pursuit, and general lethargy by the defense. It felt like I was in the freaking Twilight Zone.
One thing merely confirming that feeling was Kyle “Neckbeard” Orton looking like a real bona fide NFL QB. His first TD pass to Rashied Davis (for which Davis ran an outstanding route) was the kind of thing we haven’t seen much in Chicago. Orton finished the game 10/17 for 147 yds and two TDs behind a vastly improved pass blocking performance by our offensive line. He even had a third TD pass dropped. My potential shame of having my own neckbeard is diminishing by the day (now the only problem will be how it plays with the ladies). Toss in some solid runs from Matt Forte, an impressive debut by Kevin Jones, and even a Mark Bradley sighting and I dare say we may have ourselves an offense.
Unfortunately much of that glee was stolen from me by a pathetic performance by the Bears defense. I haven’t seen them look that bad since they were Urlacher-less in 2004. They were overmatched by misdirection, constantly over pursuing and being beat to the back side, and giving up in coverage as mobile QBs created extra time and beat lazy DBs. Seriously, we were getting lit up by J.T. O’Sullivan! I am going to let this slide because it’s the preseason, but it was hard to watch.
Finally we get to the guys fighting for roster spots. Marty Booker was a no-show and I gotta figure he’s not making the team. Garrett Wolfe fumbled a kickoff and was unimpressive outside of that. Without the ability to carry four RBs his days in Chicago are probably numbered. After making a brief reappearance Sunday, Ricky Manning Jr. was once again nowhere to be seen and we can all wave good-bye to him. Michael Okwo was likely saved by Rod Wilson’s broken forearm; he should send him a card. And finally Dan Bauzin continues to look unimpressive and with the versatility of Israel Idonije (get on the I-train) is probably out of a job.
There is one final spot I’d like to highlight and that was the play of Rex Grossman and Caleb Hanie. Rex looked like a defeated man as he completed only one pass and was constantly booed. He lacked any kind of focus or bounce in his step and it’s obvious he took the decision hard. Hanie on the other hand is pretty impressive close up. He’s obviously got a long way to go but he showed mobility, arm strength, and good presence as San Fran came after him pretty hard. I was joking at the end of that game that we should all live our lives by asking: What would Caleb Hanie do? (WWCHD?) And he answered at the end of the game by throwing a 51-yd Hail Mary TD to Brandon Rideau. But after watching both Rex and Caleb play I am wondering if WWCHD? next isn’t take Rex’s roster spot…
by Sean - posted Thursday, August 21st, 2008
After two pre-season games Kyle Orton has been declared the winner of the Bears QB battle royale. The Neckbeard will be the Bears starting QB tonight against San Francisco, and September 7th in Indianapolis, but if you ask me Rex Grossman never really had a chance.
Now I’m bitter about this for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a pledge to grow a neckbeard of my own if Orton won the battle. But perhaps the biggest reason is after the game in Seattle it’s pretty obvious Rex never had a shot. Granted Rex’s performance in the American Northwest wasn’t fantastic (9/15, 74yrds, 1INT), but given the constant duress he was under I think it was pretty good. Then Orton comes in for a 3 ‘n out, a 2 minute drill that results in a FG, and he’s declared the winner. Tell me THAT doesn’t smell a little fishy.
This decision was made long ago, but they had to string Rex along so he wouldn’t feel like an idiot for signing that contract (you think he couldn’t have had a better chance in some place like Atlanta or Miami?). The Bears have decided to transport us all back to 2005 and pray a dominant defense and outstanding special teams can carry us to victories. Listen, I’ve got nothing against Kyle Orton, but I’ve never seen anything from him that seems to demonstrate he can be effective. But he brings the allure of the unknown. They always say the back-up QB is the most popular man in town and now as Bears fans we get to reap those words.
I’ll have the opportunity to see Kyle Orton with the #1 group tonight from the United Club in Soldier Field. And hopefully afterward I’ll have a lot better feeling about all of this. I’m by no means saying the Bears season is already over, although the recent O-Line play may suggest otherwise, but I am saying this supposed “QB Competition” was never a fair fight.
by Sean - posted Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
Is it just me or is the Rex Grossman v. Kyle Orton QB battle turning into your typical election where neither option really excites you, and at the end you throw your support behind the lesser of two evils? All of it is so distastefully politically correct. Right down both players’ comments and Lovie’s coin toss, like some debate moderator trying to decide which candidate gets the first question. Personally I get the feeling of Kerry v. W. Bush or maybe Dukakis v. H. Bush, just one of those uninspiring decisions where either way the people are probably getting screwed.
Both Quarterbacks are flawed. Rex is prone to just as many fumbled snaps and poor decisions as he is to the big plays that have kept Bears coaches enamored with him. Orton on the other hand, besides from having possibly the world’s worst facial hair, has never moved the Bears offense with consistency and seems to check down to a fault. Perhaps the gods will bless us the ability to put Rex’s arm and flair for the big play on to Orton’s body and the Bears can finally have their franchise QB, but given the unlikelihood of that we’ll have to make do with just one of them as is. So what do we know about both?
Orton is often lauded for his care-taker play that allowed the Defense and Special Teams to carry the Bears to victory. He won 11 games as a rookie and 2 out of 3 during trial run at the end of last year. The stats are underwhelming: 54% completion, 160yrds/gm, 3 TDs, 2 INTs. But you do need to take into account that one of those games was played in horrible windy conditions against Green Bay where the Defense and Special Teams scored and the Offense focused on running the ball and controlling the clock. That aside Orton had 1 good game, 1 bad game, and 1 average game and makes me think that he might by the “myth of consistency” that Brian Griese was supposed to be last year.
Rex on the other hand might be the most polarizing sports figure in Chicago in my lifetime. Despite leading the Bears to a Super Bowl his limited goodwill with the fans has been thrown away in strings of careless mistakes: taking bad sacks, fumbled snaps, and throwing off his back foot into double coverage. And yet to watch Rex at his best is the closest thing we’ve had to a legit QB in the last 15 years. Rex had an awful start to last year, but after replacing Griese in the middle of the Oakland Raiders game actually played 3 very solid games. In his second stint at the helm Rex threw for 897yrds, 3TDs, just 1 INT, and averaged 6.7 yards per attempt. But the Bears only went 2-2 in those games and he took a whopping 16 sacks. It’s hard to say if improved line play would help that, but we can be certain that last years 2nd incarnation of Rex was a lot better than the first.
So where does that leave us? I’m personally throwing my support behind Rex because I believe the player he was in the second half of 2007 gives this team their best chance to win. I don’t want to revert all the way back to 2005 and watch 8 and 9 men in the box completely stifle rookie Matt Forte. The Bears need a threat at QB, even if it’s an inconsistent one, because outside of Devin Hester they don’t have one anywhere else. That’s why I am voting for Rex in ’08.