Bearsquarterback Kyle Orton has exceeded all expectations this season, with a completion percentage of 61.9 and only four interceptions in five starts. He's a far better passer than anyone could have realistically thought he'd be heading into the season, and he's a big reason the Bears are 3-2.
But it's time for the Bears to stop giving Orton all the snaps.
No, I'm not suggesting that Rex Grossman deserves any playing time. I'm saying the Bears need to join the growing list of teams that use the formation commonly known as the Wildcat, in which the quarterback isn't behind the center and the ball is instead snapped directly to another player. And the player I have in mind to receive the snaps should be an obvious choice: Devin Hester.
The Wildcat is nothing new -- it's basically a variation of the single-wing offense that has been around for a century or so -- but it suddenly became chic in the NFL when the Dolphins used it against the Patriots in Week 3, and running back Ronnie Brown ran for four touchdowns and threw for another.
The old single wing disappeared because teams found that they were much better off having the player who receives the snap look to pass first and run second. And that does make sense: Even teams with athletic quarterbacks who can threaten defenses with their feet don't want to risk injuries to those quarterbacks by having them run the ball 10 times a game. But the Wildcat, which replaces the quarterback with a running back, eliminates that risk of injuries. And in the process, it presents opposing defenses with all sorts of match-up problems.
Brown runs well out of the Wildcat, but I can't think of a player in the NFL more suited to running out of the Wildcat than Hester. Hester is at his best when he gets the ball with space to maneuver laterally and the entire defense in front of him. Most of the time, that happens on a kickoff and punt return, but there's no reason it can't happen on offense as well. As I mentioned on Mike Murphy's show on The Score on Thursday, when coaches are fortunate enough to have a unique talent like Hester on their teams, they need to find unique ways to use him. Lovie Smith and Ron Turner should at least give it a shot.
The Wildcat offense severely limits what a team can do in the passing game, and it would never be the Bears' every-down formation. But as a gimmick that could catch the defense off guard and put the ball in the hands of one of the league's most dynamic players, it's something the Bears need to try.