Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have seen the future, and it is LOUD!

So now that training camp is officially over, Grossman and Orton have officially used up all of the practice time they get to show why either is better than the other. The verdict? Maybe Ron Turner has an clue?

'I really don't,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said when asked if he has a sense of who's ahead.

This isn't Turner being his typical clueless self, either, I don't think. All reports out of training camp have been that neither QB has really pulled himself ahead of the other, and based on all I've seen, which is just the Kansas City game, there's not really a whole lot, at least from a pure performance perspective, to base the decision on. Reports from camp have fluctuated between both QBs looking extremely sharp and both QBs looking equally sloppy. In the KC game, they veered a little bit toward the sloppy side of the spectrum, but neither looked as bad as they've looked at various times in the past, which is to say they looked good enough to run a game-winning offense with the special teams and defense the Bears have on the field the rest of the game.

So, obviously, the decision of whom to choose as QB is weighing heavily on my mind. There's a chance that the decision could become obvious in the Seattle game. Orton could come out looking crisp and efficient while Grossman bumbles, turning the ball over in several of the many ways he knows how. Or Grossman could come out bombing like the early 2006 Grossman did, while Orton treats us to a series of two-yard passes and bombs to the out-of-bounds. If either of those things happen, though, it likely won't mean much more about each QBs overall abilities. We know the downsides of both QBs, and even though we don't have as clear a picture of Orton's upside, we do know it's nowhere close to Grossman's.

All of which is why I think we have to go with Orton. The thing is, Grossman should have won this competition. He has tools Orton simply doesn't have, and if he was ready to make full use of them and become the big-time NFL starter he looks like he's got buried deep in him somewhere, he would've pulled way ahead of Orton a while ago. But he hasn't. He hasn't shown he knows how to bring his whole game whenever he wants to, and he hasn't yet shown he knows how to leave what we once lovingly called "Bad Rex" behind. Meanwhile, Orton has left his rookie season back in 2005. He's solid. He's not great. It may even be stretching it at this point to call him "good," although he could probably develop into that over the course of a full season as a starter. But he's solid. Give him a decent running game, a powerful defense, and consistently great starting field position, and he'll make enough plays to win games, and he'll limit game-killing mistakes.

So there it is, that's my pitch for Orton, although I'm not convinced that's why he's going to be our starter. He's going to be our starter because of that weird groupthink phenomena out there that has convinced everyone Grossman is the worst QB who has ever played football. What Grossman needed to show this preseason is that he's finally learned how to not fail. If the coaches decide to go with, and if he then fails, they are going to look to the common thought of football followers like they are unconscionably stupid. They will lose their jobs. If they choose Orton and things don't quite work out, they'll look like they just weren't given enough options. I'd think that was a truly cynical set of steps to a decision if it weren't for the fact that I think Orton makes more sense anyway. But you can't discount the effect of the rabid booing of Bears fans in the decision.

And, ultimately, I'm not sure it really will matter all that much. Ron Turner's offense needs a good running game. In 2006 we had that, and even with Grossman going through some of his pants-shitter games we made it to the Super Bowl. And the big offensive story of this preseason should be our running game. Matt Forte looks like a better version of what we lost when Thomas Jones went to the Jets. And behind him we've got Kevin Jones, who, if Forte didn't look so good already, I'd say has a chance to challenge for the starting job. And he still might anyway. And to top it all off, we've got a bit of a wild-card in Wolfe, who looks like he's figured out how to be something kind of special in the league. Look for the Bears running game, led by Matt Forte, to be the best it's been in a long time. And because of that, frankly, regardless of the whole confusing situation at QB and receiver, I'm not even worried about our offense. It's going to work this year.

No comments: