Chicago Bears Quarterbacks: Top 10 All-Time

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#10 All-Time Bears QB, Kyle Orton

Oct 26, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton (18) throws the ball prior to the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Something I realized while going thru this exercise of picking the 10 best Chicago Bears quarterbacks in history is that scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel comes rather quickly.  By the time I worked my way down to #10, there were a handful of guys that could fit in that somewhat unenviable position.  I’ll assume for the moment that BGO readers aren’t worried about spoilers and say that guys like Johnny Lujack, Bob Avellini, and Mike Tomczak were in the mix for me at this spot but they ultimately didn’t make the list.

Instead, in a move that’s 1/2 analysis and 1/2 based on the fact that I watched him play, we start at #10 with the neck beard himself — Kyle Orton.  Pick #106 in the 4th round of the 2005 NFL Draft was used by the Bears to select the Purdue Boilermaker to provide depth behind the incumbent starter, Rex Grossman.  Rex was injured in week #3 of the 2004 season which in turned opened a portal to the island of misfit QBs, and out tumbled Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson.  That scenario was obviously something the Bears needed to avoid going forward.

When Sexy Rexy was hurt yet again in the 2005 preseason, Orton was pushed into starting duty as a rookie after Hutchinson (why was he still on the roster?) epically flamed out in his attempt to seize the starting gig.  Orton was predictably conservative and often shaky during that ’05 campaign, but he succeeded in largely avoiding the big mistake by relying on a strong running game and a short-range passing attack.  This allowed the highly rated Bears defense to keep them in games and the ultimate result for Orton was a 10-5 record as a starter in a year that the Bears went 11-5 and won the NFC North.

Despite Orton’s relative success, the Bears brought in Brian Griese prior to the 2006 season to be the backup should Grossman’s injury bug take another bite of him.  As luck would have it, Grossman remained the healthy starter thru ’06 and into ’07 before his inconsistent play finally resulted in a demotion.  Unfortunately for Orton, Griese was still the #2 and he took over as starter.  Orton was eventually inserted for the final 3 games of the year after the Bears’ playoff hopes were extinguished; he guided the team to a 2-1 record while completing 43 of 80 passes for 478 yards, three TDs and two INTs.

In 2008, the year that would ultimately be his last in Chicago, Orton finally got a crack at being the true #1 QB after beating out Grossman in the preseason.  Orton posted a 9-6 record while starting all but one game missed due to an injury, going 272 of 465 (58.5%) for 2,972 yards with 18 TDs and 12 INTs.  Orton doesn’t make this list because of eye-popping statistics or any specific accomplishment while with the Bears, because you won’t find either during his time with the team.  Instead he makes it for being a serviceable signal-caller whose adherence to the traditional defense-first philosophy allowed the Bears to put together winning seasons while he was under center.

Orton finished with a 21-12 record, enough to tie him with Tomczak (21-10) as the eighth winningest quarterback in team history.  Prior to the 2009 season, Orton was packaged with some draft picks and shipped off to Denver in the trade that brought Jay Cutler to Chicago.  Orton enjoyed more statistical success as the starter in Denver for the majority of the next two seasons, but his W/L record (11-17) suffered.

Next: #9: It's Miller Time