It was just a matter of time. Don’t look now but your No. 3 quarterback Kyle Orton is gaining popularity, rapidly. From Kyle to the shotgun, the safeties and offensive linemen, plenty of queries came in. We sorted through and have answers. Keep the questions coming for next week.
Q: I agree we all should be more patient, but after being a Bear fan since 1961, and seeing seemingly year after year less than adequate play at QB, it becomes frustrating. Orton was thrown in as rookie and basically told not to lose the game. The result being a division title. When he was a Senior at Purdue, he was a leading candidate for the Heisman until he was hurt. I’ll be patient, but don’t you think just once a QB could fall into our laps, such as Tom Brady did with the Patriots or Tony Romo in Dallas?
Ted: Who’s saying Orton will not develop into Brady or Romo? How he has developed with a year-plus now to sit and watch will be interesting to see when his opportunity finally comes. Let’s give Brian Griese an opportunity to show what he can do before we all clamor for the QB turnstile to click once again. But guys like Brady and Romo don’t just come around. Brady was a sixth-round pick and the Patriots had no clue what they had in him until his chance came. Romo went undrafted. Scouting is an inexact science after all.
Q: Why does the backup quarterback only receive 20 percent of practice snaps and the third string none? What happens if the starter and backup go down?
Walter: The short answer is that there are simply not enough practice snaps to go around. The Bears, like all other teams, are not on the practice field for more than two hours. Some sessions are shorter. That includes time devoted to special teams and the first-team defense, which will go against the show team. The more snaps you take away from your starter, the less prepared he is going to be come Sunday. That’s why backups—be them No. 2 or No. 3—talk about taking mental reps in practice. They watch the plays unfold and take mental notes of what looks open, how they would attack the defense on the play. You’re not going to find the practice breakdown of QB snaps different in any other city. The flip side is complaining the starting QB was not prepared because the backups were getting too much time in practice.
Q: I’m most definitely in the minority when it comes to Rex Grossman. But I still stand by my guy. Last week’s game against Detroit fueled my argument of ``It Starts Up Front.’’ Neither quarterback has said so and I don’t blame them for team chemistry and health issues. You have to protect your quarterback. If you do that, you have a sliver of a chance of Running the ball successfully. Why can’t you platoon offensive linemen like you do D-Line? I don't get it, start plugging these guys in here and there, what would it hurt?
Brad: There’s no question the offensive line has underperformed in the 1-3 start. I think the struggles in the run game are more alarming than the pass protection issues. Free rushers were a problem, particularly in the first three games, and a lot of times that is the responsibility of the quarterback or other times the back.
As far as rotating linemen, you don’t see that here and you don’t see it elsewhere. The linemen talk about developing a feel for the guy next to them, knowing how he will react. We’ll turn the floor over to Ruben Brown.
``That’s not a good idea. It’s never a good idea. A line has to be together. It just is, it’s one of those constants. You can rotate defensive linemen, DBs, linebackers, whatever. But the way the game is, you cannot rotate your offensive linemen. The offensive line has to be in there for the whole course of the game. Unless someone gets hurt, then you’ve got to come out. It’s tougher for a guy sitting on the bench to come in and have to play two snaps or three snaps. It’s a rhythm thing with us up front. I’m used to John St. Clair coming in because we practice next to each other, I know him. But if we got to going John [Tait] two, St. Clair two, back and forth, then all of three us would be looking at each other, ‘All right, what are we doing this time?’ We would be guessing too much. You’ve got to keep the same group in until someone has to come out.’’
Q: Will someone finally agree with me now that the Bears never should have traded Chris Harris? The depth at safety was one of the strengths of the team and to count on Mike Brown to remain healthy for the entire season, we saw how smart that was. Now it seems like a scramble back there. What do you think?
Chad: Chris Harris has fit in right away with the Panthers, who traded a fifth-round draft pick for him at the end of the first week of training camp. Harris had three forced fumbles through the first three games, the kind of hard-nosed play Bears fans had come to expect from him. He did in Carolina just what he did here, which is learn the system quickly. I recall Mike Brown commenting at the end of OTA’s during Harris’ rookie season that he had picked up the defense so quickly, and was so comfortable with it that he was making calls. Let’s not forget the times Harris would miss tackles going for the knockout blow, though.
The writing was on the wall when the Bears drafted Kevin Payne in the fifth round. Payne replaced Harris at Louisiana-Monroe, and given the depth on the roster you had to figure it was only a matter of time. Being able to turn Harris, a sixth-round pick in 2005, into a fifth rounder in trade is a compliment to his play and Jerry Angelo’s acumen as a wheeler and dealer.
How many safeties would you really want the Bears to keep? They retained five to help cover for injury concerns for Brown, and of course are now down to four. You only play two.
Also, ex-Bear Cameron Worrell, who left via free agency, could get his first start Sunday for Miami in place of injured Donovin Darius.
Q: Finally, we saw some more shotgun in the Detroit game. If Ron Turner would use this more often, the offense would be even better. Please tell me this is the beginning of something great.
Andy: Stop. It’s not that simple. Running the shotgun is not going to cure the Bears’ offensive woes. It was explained that they used more of the formation at Detroit to combat some of the blitz and dog schemes the Lions like to use. Center Olin Kreutz at least proved it’s not a problem for him, a misconception held by some. How about the Bears and Turner focus on running the ball, a novel concept that will do more to help the passing game than anything. Thanks for withholding all future shotgun questions, too.