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Orton Named Starter for CHI Bears

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Bears select Kyle Orton opening day starter

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)—Kyle Orton was selected to be the Chicago Bears starting quarterback by coach Lovie Smith on Monday.

Orton won the competition with Rex Grossman for the starting job.

Orton, the fourth-year player from Purdue, will start Thursday’s third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers and the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I think I’ve just continued to get better in the preseason—in the games and in practice—so this will be another step to take,” Orton said.

Orton and Grossman began battling for the starting spot in May minicamp and the workouts in June. Then the competition intensified in training camp.

"To come to a decision like that we’ve taken a lot of things into consideration: Last year, how (Orton) finished the season … training camp, preseason games,” Smith said. "In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling that you have."

"I feel good about Kyle leading our team.”

Orton completed 63.2 percent of his preseason passes (12-for-19) for 99 yards with a passer rating of 76.4, but had no completions longer than 17 yards. Grossman completed 13-for-23 for 118 yards. Grossman threw a 25-yard touchdown pass.

Orton did not get the team into the end zone, but did direct a two-minute drill to a field goal Saturday at Seattle. Grossman threw an interception.

Statistics alone didn’t lead to the decision, Smith said.

"Completions, turnovers, to just the feeling we have on who can manage the game the best for us, all of things like that,” Smith said. "And the good thing about evaluating both Rex and Kyle, we’ve had a long time to do it. It’s been quite a few years we’ve had a chance to see both guys play.”

Orton started 15 games as a rookie before starting the final three games last season. When Orton was a rookie, he ran an easier version of the offense. Now he’s running the full offense.

"People make such a big deal about that, my rookie year and everything, but I think everybody on this team has gotten better since they were a rookie and not just me,” Orton said. "That stuff’s in the past and I’m just focused on playing good football now.”

Orton’s fourth year in the same offensive system under coordinator Ron Turner has helped improve his confidence.

"My accuracy has improved, my command of the offense has improved and just being able to play at a high level,” he said.

Smith said the team’s offensive line problems had little impact. The Bears had problems protecting the quarterback in Seattle.

"Both guys were in the same situation, which is a good part about it,” he said. "Both guys played both preseason games with the same line. … I think we did about what we could to let them compete fairly for the position.”

The competition actually began last December when the team put Orton in the starter’s role after Grossman suffered a knee sprain. Orton led the team to a 2-1 record with three touchdown passes and two interceptions.

Both players signed new deals after last season. Orton had one year left on a contract and it was extended one year, while Grossman’s deal had expired and he signed on only for 2008.

The fact Grossman is signed on for only one season had little to do with the decision, coaches said.

"Never even came up, not at all,” Turner said. "I wasn’t even sure what the contract situation was, to be honest.”

Grossman, who quarterbacked the team to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season and has 30 career starts, did not make himself available to the media after practice. Smith said Grossman expressed disappointment over the decision.

"No competitor will agree with a decision when it doesn’t go their way,” he said. "Rex is a team player. He’s been in this situation before and he’ll do whatever he needs to do to help our football team win.”

Smith could not give Orton an ironclad guarantee he will start all season.

"Nothing is over with any position,” Smith said. "We don’t name any guys starters for lifetime or anything like that. But we feel real good about Kyle, just like we feel good about Olin Kreutz being our center and Lance Briggs being our … linebacker.”

Teammates expressed relief to have the battle decided.

"It is kind of frustrating wondering who the starting quarterback is,” wide receiver Devin Hester said. "That’s probably one of the most important players on the team is the quarterback. Now that we’ve got it all resolved and we know who the starter is then now we can get down to business.”

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Orton did take them to the playoffs in '05... but their offense was anemic.

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Right decision if you ask me. Grossman is awful. Orton won't be a big gunner but he won't make the mistakes Grossman would make either...

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Grossman got so many chances it's not even funny, about damn time Lovie sat his a$$!

Don't be surprised that when the Bears are 4-8 they switch and give this kid a chance:

185.jpg

Caleb Hanie

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They could have had Pennington. They need to sign Culpepper ASAP

Yeah that's true, but I'm guessing they didn't want to bring in another QB at the time. I'm guessing once Orton f's up they'll be looking for someone else in the offseason or giving that kid, Hanie a chance.

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Neither Orton or Grossman are the answer, but Orton was always my favorite between the two.

Remember that old saying, "If you have to choose between two quarterbacks you don't really have one."

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The Bears are definitely going to suck on O this year...Look at what Orton has to work with out there...

The better pray teams actually kick the ball to Devin Hester this season...

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Problem is that, if they had a solid OL, they would be able to run the ball effectively, and even a bad QB could take them to the playoffs. But their OL sucks, Forte is going to get killed in his first year, and Orton is gonna be awul. Just put Hester at QB.

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Grossman got so many chances it's not even funny, about damn time Lovie sat his a$$!

Many chances? He has played just one full NFL season. Most now forget how unlucky he was early in his career and how he kept suffering season ending injuries.

2003-2005:

8 games, three season ending injuries, 4td, 6int

2006-2007:

24 games, 27td, 27int

Oh and there is this:

Grossman's numbers in 2006 (lost Super Bowl):

73.9 QB rating, 54.6 comp., 3193 yards, 23td, 20int, 7 fumbles/5 lost

Eli Manning's numbers in 2007 (won Super Bowl):

73.9 QB rating, 56.1 comp., 3336 yards, 23td, 20int, 13 fumbles/7 lost

If Grossman is that bad after just one full season what does that really say about Eli? While Grossman is nothing special he really hasn't had the best players around him to work with either. I also bet you Grossman will be the starter at some point this season but I believe he's a FA after this year. I'm sure he will get another chance somewhere else and a change might do him good.

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^Yeah but stats don't tell everything. Rex was extremely good at doing his best to give the game away with timely interceptions/fumbles in an offense that relies heavily on its defense to keep the score down because they have virtually no passing game and don't have the usual great running game to compliment the defense. The Giants have a LOT more to offer on offense.

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