We're seven weeks into the NFL season and Bears head coach Lovie Smith hasn't been asked, "who's your starting quarterback" once. Not since Rex Grossman broke the carousel of quarterbacks by starting every game of their '05 Super Bowl season have the Bears had a starting quarterback they could rely on. It has some fans seeing the second coming of Sid Luckman, with Orton gracing the cover of all the major Chicago newspapers' sports sections. Still Lovie Smith tempered the giddiness reminding reporters "it's still early".
"He torched us at Illinois, so no I'm not surprised" Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
The former Purdue Boilermaker made the Davey O'Brien watch list (for the nation's outstanding quarterback) his junior season, and was named a top 15 player in the nation by leading publications. Still Orton is surprising others though who looked at him more as a game manager, expecting the Bears to hand the starting job to the "sexier" pick, Rex Grossman.
"I don't care what (others) think only my teammates and coaches" Orton calmly said after a light practice at Halas Hall.
With the bye week for the Bears this week, many are still getting to know the guy with the "neck beard".
Do you consider yourself a smart quarterback?
"I think that's my biggest attribute and its the only way I can play the game, with my head."
So consider him a neck beard with brains. Orton's ability to make pre-snap reads, identifying opposing blitzes, has catapulted the Bears offense past the "growing" pains that could go with a change of quarterback.
"He's extremely smart," Turner added, and his numbers are growing:
- 1669 yards
- 62.2% completion rate
- 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
That's a passer rating of 91.4 ... fourteenth best in the NFL.
Something else you should know about the brains behind the Bears offense? He's green. Not inexperienced, rather, into the "green" movement. Orton considers himself a conservationist, from driving a Toyota Prius to composting his own soil in his townhouse kitchen. Orton may even be seen at his neighborhood's "community" garden where he'd like to buy his own plot to grow his own vegetables.
This is one green quarterback coaches can rely on.