Daily Herald
Orton gets my respect, but come on
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 10/13/2009 12:02 AM

What you're about to read isn't like one of my Wanny rants where I root for Dave Wannstedt to fail because he damaged the Bears.

In contrast I respect Kyle Orton but, yikes, Monday's love for him was a little too syrupy for my pancakes.

Maybe I missed something, but the raves made it sound like Orton accomplished something remarkable like, say, successfully diagraming the whole concept of Lady Gaga to a colony of Martians.

"(Orton) flat-out outplayed Tom Brady (Sunday)," Trent Dilfer said Monday on ESPN.

Yes, Orton did, but just because his Denver team beat Tom Brady's New England team doesn't mean Orton is the new Brady and Gisele Bündchen is working on a deal to acquire him.

What's the point to all the gushing over Orton? Do people think he's a Hall of Fame quarterback? More important, does anybody want the Bears to renege on exchanging Orton for Jay Cutler?

Come on. Forget the stats and standings. Just watch the two and ask whether you would choose to start a team with Orton or Cutler.

Look, Orton is a legitimate NFL quarterback. The Broncos are 5-0 and on the way to the playoffs with him.

Orton also was a great teammate with the Bears for four years, but let's not go goofy here. His upside isn't nearly as high as Cutler's.

That doesn't mean Orton won't wind up being more successful than Cutler due somewhat to forces outside either's control. Fate takes odd turns in sports, you know.

Orton does figure to be a bit more consistent. The Broncos will know just about every play, game and season what he'll give them.

As is the case for most freakishly gifted quarterbacks, Cutler figures to be a bit more unpredictable. Still, his upside is John Elway, and I always thought that Orton's is Matt Hasselbeck.

Each comparison is flattering. Hasselbeck is a good quarterback, made the Pro Bowl and helped Seattle to a Super Bowl.

That's better than the first quarterback that Orton reminded me of. Every time his winning percentage was mentioned I thought of Mike Tomczak's with the Bears.

Tomczak finally settled in where he belonged as a career backup. Orton now appears too good to be Tomczak.

The Bears could have stayed with Orton over the next decade, won a lot of games and possibly sneaked into a Super Bowl.

Sorry, but the Bears were at the point where good enough no longer was good enough after going 60 years without a Canton-quality quarterback.

As Bears general manager Jerry Angelo noted a couple of years ago, a franchise needs a Hall of Fame quarterback to have a chance to become a dynasty.

Is Cutler that guy? He sure has the arm and legs to be. Now he and Bears coaches have to prove they can maximize his strengths.

Greatness is worth a shot regardless. It was about time Bears ownership and management dared to be spectacularly special instead of methodically mediocre.

Put enough great players around Orton and they'll win. Put Cutler around enough good players and they'll win.

So thank Kyle Orton for his service, wish him well in Denver and be grateful Jay Cutler is in Chicago.

mimrem@dailyherald.com