Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner! After months of speculation, conversation and exasperation from NFL fans... Kyle Orton has been named the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
Ok, so maybe the introduction that we originally wrote for our Brett Favre to the Jets article does not quite fit for this "big" announcement by the Bears. In fact, when fans and media alike asked the team to do something about its quarterback situation, naming a starting QB out of the two options the Bears already had could not have been what they wanted. Our original assumption was that incumbent and former Super Bowl starter Rex Grossman would start the majority of the year. How wrong were we? Well, actually, we were not too far off. The numbers (and plight of the Bears fans) do not change much, just the name of the guy who attempts the majority of passes. In our pre-season NFC North preview (based on 1,000 simulations of every single NFL game), the Bears were last (i.e. behind Detroit), with an expected record of 6-10, an NFL Power Ranking of 30th and were only favored in five of 16 games. Now, with Kyle Orton under center, the Chicago Bears are expected to go 6-10, with a power ranking of 27th and are now favored to win just four of 16 games. So the Bears get a little better relative to everyone else in the league but slightly worse relative to their schedule.
And as we stated in the initial preview, offense is still the team's most exploitable weakness.
Unless "below-average" is the only appropriate designation, it's not quite as though Orton and Grossman are the same type of quarterback; it is just that neither of them should be starting in the NFL. After running 1,000 simulated NFL seasons with Kyle Orton starting every snap for the Bears, he is expected to throw for 2,933 passing yards to go with 17 passing touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Those numbers rank the former Purdue Boilermaker as the 29th most effective overall QB in the NFL (ahead of the current conglomerates for Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco). Doing the same exercise with Grossman taking every snap yielded totals of 2,897 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions (eerily similar). The biggest difference is in completion percentage, where we put Rex Grossman at 52.4% and Kyle Orton at 58.7%. Grossman's totals ultimately ranked him 31st in the NFL among starting QBs.
Obviously, the Bears offensive futility will and should not fall solely on the quarterbacks. The team has seven wide receivers vying for starting jobs (Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Mark Bradley, Mike Hass and Rashied Davis). Here, the adage "when you have seven starting wide receivers, you have none" probably applies.
The offensive line and running game are not going to take much of the pressure off of these quarterbacks either. The only hope is that things are not as bad as last year when the Bears were last in the NFL with 3.1 yards per carry and allowed almost two sacks per 20 pass attempts. Matt Forte and Kevin Jones may both have some talent, but neither can single-handedly turn this offense around this year.
It seems as though tight end is the only offensive skill position where the Bears look decent. Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen could each be Pro Bowl players on different teams, and Kellen Davis is promising. One would think the Bears could have invested a draft choice in a quarterback rather than taking Davis. Clearly, a rookie quarterback could take a while to develop and may never be much better, yet the Bears will likely be the only team in the league that will enter the season with only two quarterbacks on the roster - and they are both bad!
It is not a joke anymore: special teams produce the Bears' best opportunities to score. For our next simulation, we may force the Bears to punt or kick a field goal on the first play of every possession. The team's expected record may actually be better if only the defense and the special teams enter the field.
Below are two versions of Chicago's schedule- the first depicts the original season prediction with Grossman at QB. The second is our most up-to-date projection with Kyle Orton starting.
Chicago Bears Schedule (With Rex Grossman starting):
|3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||20-24|
|11||@Green Bay Packers||29||17-28|
|12||@St. Louis Rams||53||25-26|
|15||New Orleans Saints||57||25-20|
|16||Green Bay Packers||17||21-29|
Chicago Bears Schedule (With Kyle Orton starting):
|3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||38||24-24|
|11||@Green Bay Packers||34||20-32|
|12||@St. Louis Rams||46||23-28|
|15||New Orleans Saints||54||27-18|
|16||Green Bay Packers||18||20-31|
And for those of you who may be wondering, Brett Favre could make this team 9-7 (likely just shy of the Wild Card, but in the picture). Are the four first round draft picks that the Bears would likely have to give the Jets for Brett Favre (to more than make up for what the Jets would have to give Green Bay) worth three wins, a shot at the playoffs, a chance to stick it to the team's biggest rival and one less year of misery and QB controversy? Maybe. Consider that Marc Columbo, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson and Rex Grossman are four of the last five first round picks that the Bears have made (with more than a year in the league to prove themselves).
To see how your favorite team would look with Brett Favre or any NFL great, visit our Dream Teams.
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