Not too long ago, it seems obvious that Kyle Orton would come into the 2009 Bears season as a backup. Jerry Angelo was unusually blunt in his postseason assessment of the quarterback position; his quote that the Bears needed to "address" the spot is, in our little insular Chicago sports world, famous.
Since then, though, the Bears have done little in the way of "addressing" anything. They signed former Northwestern quarterback Brent Basanez, but he's a backup QB at best. Perhaps the Bears got a steal in Basanez. Perhaps he's the limit to their grand quarterbacking plan. But it seems far more likely the Bears would like to do something else before the season starts.
In the meantime, Kyle Orton isn't going down without a fight. He thinks the starter's job is his to win, which is fair, considering he played pretty well for much of last season. He wants you, the Bears fan, to trust him. Can you do it?
"One part that's overlooked is that in the quarterback competition last year … I was getting half the reps with the wide receivers. In the off-season is where you build [a rapport]. I'm excited to get them to run the routes exactly how we want to run them. They can get a feel for what [we both] want. It will be better."
Orton also mentioned his late-season ankle injury as a reason for his downtown in production, and that's probably fair, but at the end of the day Orton's saving grace might have less to do with his play and more with the market's. There are few worthy quarterbacks available. Byron Leftwich and Chris Simms seem to be the likely contenders. Are either of those quarterbacks so much better than Orton that they deserve to be signed to a long-term free agent deal? As an intro-level economist would ask, do the marginal benefits out weight the marginal costs?
It seems doubtful. And so Orton, for all his faults, and for all of his GM's bluster, might well be safe. For now, anyway.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.