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  • Bears name Orton starting QB

    Orton named Bears starting QB; Hutchinson plummets

    By Len Pasquarelli
    ESPN.com

    Rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, whose inconsistent performance last season at Purdue dropped him into the fourth round of the draft, will be the Chicago Bears starter for the regular-season opener, the team announced on Sunday.


    Orton

    The elevation of Orton to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart was not totally unexpected following a poor performance by starter Chad Hutchinson in Friday night's preseason game. Hutchinson registered a 0.0 passer rating in the game and, for the preseason, his rating is an anemic 23.1.

    On the flip side, Orton has generally performed well in preseason, albeit against backup players from the opposition defenses he has faced. The former Purdue star, who was just the seventh quarterback chosen in this year's draft and the 106th prospect taken overall, has completed 27 of 42 passes for 409 yards, with two touchdown passes and a pair of interceptions, for a passer rating of 92.3.

    "Kyle Orton has played well every time he's had an opportunity to play, so we're excited about what he can do," said coach Lovie Smith. "He deserves this opportunity."

    Chicago veterans were largely complimentary of Orton following Friday's game. Said center Olin Kreutz: "You think about that 'it,' and whatever that is, he's got it."

    The Bears lost their projected starter, former first-round draft choice Rex Grossman, two weeks ago to a broken ankle that could sideline him the entire 2005 season. Grossman was able to start only three games in 2004 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

    In a major shakeup on the depth chart, Hutchinson plummeted off the depth chart Sunday, with veteran Jeff Blake, signed after the injury to Grossman, moving into the No. 2 slot. Kurt Kittner is No. 3 in the playing rotation.

    The wild depth chart shuffle continues the instability from which the Bears have suffered over the last several years. Chicago used four different starting quarterbacks in 2004 and has been forced to use at least three starters in six of the last seven seasons.

    The shakeup is certain to ramp up criticism of general manager Jerry Angelo, who did not bolster the quarterback depth chart with an experienced veteran in the offseason. The Bears met with several free agents, notably Brad Johnson and Jay Fiedler, but could not secure the services of any of them. Team officials then opted to stay the course and to hope that Grossman, a first-round choice in 2003, could stay healthy.

    Some veterans pointed to the success enjoyed by Pittsburgh rookie Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 to suggest that starting a rookie quarterback is not a death knell for the season.

    "The swagger [Orton] has, as long as he keeps it and keeps playing with his head up and is confident, then we'll go a long way," said wide receiver Justin Gage.

    Added wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad: "He's a confident kid. You can tell that he's a confident kid, borderline cocky. That's always good in this business, because you've got to have a little swagger about yourself."

    Orton, 22, entered the 2004 college season considered as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy, started the year strong, then saw his play deteriorate after the first four games of the year. In 44 appearances at Purdue, including 35 starts, Orton completed 786 of 1,336 passes for 9,337 yards, with 63 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions. For his career, he averaged 219.39 yards per game in total offense.

    Regarded as a bit of a steal in the fourth round, Orton signed a four-year, $1.84 million contract that included a $458,000 signing bonus.

    "I'm not scared at all about being a rookie quarterback," Orton said Sunday. "I think I'm where I need to be. ... I have a lot of improvement I can make. Now I've got to quicken that process."

    ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .

  • #2
    Nice!

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    • #3
      I was at that game Friday. Hutchinson was awful. Still, after sticking with Quinn for far too long last year, I thought Chad would get at least one more chance, although I figured there was at least a chance for Orten to move up, even getting into a friendly debate w/ one of the fans around me.

      I never thought it would happen this soon, and I certainly didn't think Hutchinson would fall below Kittner. Yikes!

      At least if he fails, or is too rookie-like, Blake is behind him. And I fully believe that Blake can be at least average, which is really all the Bears need if the defense continues to play as well as they have been.
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      • #4




        "Cowboy" Bob Orton?

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        • #5
          Couldn't start for Purdue for a couple of games at the end of last year, but is the starting QB for the Bears now. Eeeeeeee.

          What's the latest on Benson?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Fishbone@Aug 28 2005, 08:05 PM
            Couldn't start for Purdue for a couple of games at the end of last year, but is the starting QB for the Bears now. Eeeeeeee.

            What's the latest on Benson?
            He came in to personally talk to Angelo last Thursday or Friday to 'clear the air' about things, but being as he still isn't signed, I don't know what the purpose of it was.

            He can go rot in hell for all I care. Fucktard.
            Official sponsor of: Pepsi Zero Sugar and Jordan Almonds.

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            • #7
              I'm surprised and impressed that the Bears didn't fuck around as usual and prolong the non-controversy by sticking with Hutchinson. The fact that they dropped him right off the depth chart is refreshing. Still, would it have been a bad idea to announce open competition--finally--with Blake, Kittner, and Orton, or it too late for that?

              Anwyay, I'm happy. Hutchinson was bringing back some awful Jonathan Quinn memories.
              "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
              – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Fishbone@Aug 28 2005, 09:05 PM
                Couldn't start for Purdue for a couple of games at the end of last year, but is the starting QB for the Bears now. Eeeeeeee.

                What's the latest on Benson?
                Didn't it come out later that he had a hip injury?
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fishbone@Aug 28 2005, 07:05 PM
                  What's the latest on Benson?
                  Benson is signed for 5 years for a reported $17M guaranteed per.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fishbone@Aug 28 2005, 07:05 PM
                    Couldn't start for Purdue for a couple of games at the end of last year, but is the starting QB for the Bears now. Eeeeeeee.

                    What's the latest on Benson?

                    He got hurt in the Penn State game, hurt worse in the Wisconsin game, and flopped miserably while hurt in the Northwestern game. That's why he didn't start against Iowa or Ohio State...he was allowed to play the last two drives of the Ohio State game, engineering the game-winning drive. And I'm sure you remember what he did against IU.

                    I'm a Purdue fanatic - I've seen every game Orton has played at least twice. I have a hard time believing that he'll be extraordinarily successful in his first couple years in the league. He's always had trouble going through progressions, often locking onto his first read and getting lost in the process, developing happy feet and losing his touch. If Taylor Stubblefield wasn't open, Purdue was screwed. His first couple years as a starter, he had one velocity - he threw the ball as hard as he could, every play, and often drilled it into the ground or threw it high and hard and impossible to catch. He never threw a lot of interceptions because his passes were so tough to grab.

                    But he was so incredible the first four games of last season that anyone who saw him saw a superstar. I watch the highlights of the Syracuse and Notre Dame games from last year and just can't believe it. His first half of last season was about as good as a college quarterback can be. He's got the skills - now we'll see how well he's been coached since he joined the Bears, because make no mistake, he's still a work in progress.

                    Last year was no fluke - Orton has always been a "momentum" guy. When he's good, he gets better and better until adversity hits, then he gets worse and worse. Against Wisconsin in 2003, he was on fire in the first half - it was like he couldn't be anything but perfect. The next week against Michigan, he looked like he'd never taken a snap in a college game.

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                    • #11
                      I take almost as much satifaction from the Bears' woes, as I do the Cubs.

                      Well, not really, but I do enjoy it nonetheless.

                      Moon

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by James636+Aug 29 2005, 08:22 AM-->
                        QUOTE(James636 @ Aug 29 2005, 08:22 AM)

                      • #13
                        Originally posted by James636+Aug 29 2005, 09:22 AM-->
                        QUOTE(James636 @ Aug 29 2005, 09:22 AM)
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