Daily Herald
With Cutler & Orton playing well, fans can't pass up hyping their favorite QB
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/14/2009 12:00 AM

So, who wants a do-over on the Kyle Orton-for-Jay Cutler trade?

It seems Orton never has been more popular in some parts of Bears Country than he is now, after helping lead the Denver Broncos to a 5-0 record. He has thrown 7 touchdown passes and just 1 interception for a passer rating of 97.4, 10th-best in the NFL.

Orton's only interception came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half Sunday in a victory over the New England Patriots that was picked off by Randy Moss.

Judging by chat rooms and blogs on the Internet, there appear to be quite a few Bears fans having second thoughts about "The Trade."

There also are a lot of Bears fans so insecure and so desperate for Cutler to be their savior that the mere mention of Orton's name in the same sentence with Cutler causes them some discomfort in their orange-and-navy-striped Zubaz.

They have no need to panic.

Cutler's 89.3 passer rating is 14th in the league; he has thrown 8 TD passes and 5 interceptions. Right now those stats aren't quite as impressive as Orton's, but they're still very good and continuing to improve since the horrid first half in Green Bay.

But that isn't the point. Numbers don't tell the whole story.

Cutler has done more with less, and he is the more talented quarterback. Cutler has the stronger arm, he's more accurate, he runs better, and he avoids the pass rush better, thereby buying extra time for his receivers and minimizing negative plays.

Orton has the luxury of throwing to Brandon Marshall, who may be the most talented wide receiver in the NFL. Orton also has Eddie Royal, who had 980 yards and 91 receptions as a rookie last season, which is 91 more than Earl Bennett caught in his rookie season for the Bears.

It also helps that the Broncos' defense is No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed and No. 2 in yards allowed.

Cutler has put up comparable numbers throwing to Devin Hester, Bennett and rookie Johnny Knox. Hester had 51 catches last season, Bennett had none, and Knox was at Abilene Christian.

The Bears' defense has been good but not great. It is 13th in yards and points allowed.

Cutler has been superb in the fourth quarter, leading the Bears to comeback victories over Pittsburgh and Seattle. His fourth-quarter passer rating of 111.5 is fifth-best in the league.

But Orton's fans know he has been better, with a 138.7 passer rating, second only to Eli Manning's 147.5. Cutler is 18th on third downs with a passer rating of 68.6, while Orton is fourth at 102.7.

And don't forget Orton's 26-12 won-loss record compared to Cutler's 20-21 mark. Sure, Orton was along for the 10-5 ride the Bears' defense posted in games he started during his rookie season of 2005.

All Orton was asked to do that year was to not lose games, and he did a pretty good job of it.

In Denver, Cutler practically had to win games by himself or, at the very least, try to pile up enough points to offset a porous defense. He's 14-1 in his career when his defense allows 20 points or fewer, including 2-0 this year.

Now that he has a defense capable of containing the opposition, Cutler's won-lost record should more accurately reflect his talent.

"The Trade" may be one of those rare ones that turns out great for both sides.