The Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith announced today that Kyle Orton and not Rex Grossman would be the starting signal caller. Orton, who is a fourth-year player out of Purdue, battled Rex Grossman for the starting spot in mini camp into and through the pre-season.
Smith and his coaches had plenty of time to choose their starter, making the head coach sound confident in selecting Orton over Grossman.
Smith noted that they had to “take a lot of things into consideration” in choosing Orton over Grossman. He said criteria included “Last year, how (Orton) finished the season … training camp, preseason games.” The Bears’ coach observed that “In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling that you have.”
In the pre-season, the new Bears’ starter went 12 of 19 for 99 yards, completing 63.2-percent of his throws. He earned a rating of 76.4. Grossman was 13 of 23 (56.5-percent) for a total of 118 yards. He tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass. Although Orton did not hit a TD pass, he did lead a two-minute drill against the Seattle Seahawks, getting them into field goal range.
Smith emphasized that the decision to go with Orton over Grossman, who is a six-year Chicago and NFL vet, did not come down to statistics alone. He said that his feeling about who could best manage the team played a big part in his decision.
One dilemma for the Chicago Bears is its weak offensive line, which often puts quarterbacks at risk. Orton has been less prone to making bad decisions when pressured, whereas Grossman has often made mistakes in pressure and clutch situations.
Grossman is signed with the Bears until the end of the 2008 season, while Orton has extended his deal with Chicago through 2009.
Smith admitted that, “Nothing is over with any position. We don’t name any guys starters for lifetime or anything like that.” He then clarified his point by saying, “But we feel real good about Kyle, just like we feel good about Olin Kreutz being our center and Lance Briggs being our … linebacker.”
Chicago opens the 2008 season at the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, September 7 at 8:15 pm.