Orton's latest opportunity with Bears comes under less-than-ideal circumstances Print
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Thursday, 20 December 2007 13:49
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 LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -Kyle Orton has an opportunity and an unenviable task.
He's getting another shot with the Chicago Bears after a two-year wait, but the circumstances are not ideal.
The offensive line that was once impenetrable? There are plenty of holes now.
The running game that used to power the offense? It's gone.
And Orton? He's in a tough spot.
It's not easy to evaluate a quarterback when the line isn't holding its ground and the running game is going nowhere, yet the Bears (5-9) are trying to do just that as the season winds down. The Green Bay Packers (12-2) visit Sunday, and Orton has two more chances to show what he can do after a shaky outing against Minnesota.
``It's harder for the quarterback - it's harder for our team - when you're a running team and you haven't been able to run the football,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``That makes it tougher. And our offense still has to be able to take what teams give (us). If you can't run the ball, you have to be able to gain some ground with the pass, and we haven't been able to do that.''
Orton also needs to do more after an uneven showing in Monday's 20-13 loss at Minnesota. He completed 22 of 38 passes for 184 yards but was wild at times.
``There were some situations where they dialed up some pressure and made it tough on us as an offense, and those are plays you've just got to manage,'' Orton said. ``When you haven't been in there, there are a couple plays you wish you had back. You might not think you had enough time in the pocket, and you really did. It's just kind of feeling how much time you've got in the pocket on certain situations.''
His low point came near the end of the third quarter, when a swing pass sailed over fullback Jason McKie's head - a strange call on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 35. Orton also had a long pass to the end zone intercepted by Darren Sharper just past the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
``Listen, every game I go into, you guys want to make it turn into a numbers game,'' he said. ``And every game I go into, I want to win the game.''
He said the only number that matters to him is this: ``2-0.'' But for the Bears to go 2-0 the rest of the way, they'll have to boost some other numbers.
The offense ranks 25th, and Chicago is averaging a league-low 78.4 yards rushing.
Orton can't simply hand the ball off the way he did when he got thrust into the starting role two years ago. Thomas Jones was traded after last season, Cedric Benson was ineffective before suffering a season-ending left ankle injury late last month, and Adrian Peterson isn't the solution. He ran for just 26 yards against Minnesota.
Orton doesn't have as much protection from the line as he did two years ago. And the Bears can't rely on their defense to bail them out anymore.
The formula Chicago used to win 10 games with Orton in 2005 doesn't apply.
Back then, the Bears had to scale down the offense for the rookie, who passed for more than 150 yards just two times while throwing more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (nine).
And one of his worst games that year was against Green Bay, when he was 6-of-17 with 68 yards in a Bears victory in early December.
Orton got a second chance this month when Rex Grossman sprained his left knee, and the Bears decided to give him another look rather than go with veteran Brian Griese.
Against the Vikings, offensive coordinator Ron Turner said Orton showed ``great poise, great composure in a tough environment. He handled himself very well. He saw the field well.''
Packers Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris said he was impressed.
``I just finished watching tape on him,'' he said. ``He made some good reads. I went back and I got the tape from when he was actually starting. He made some good throws then, also. I think he can be a challenge.''
 

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