Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Grossman Moves One Step Closer to Returning

OK, so is Rex Grossman the next Wally Pipp, or should he get his job back once he's ready to go in a few weeks (or maybe even a Brownsian Dilfer-Frye approach to quarterbacking might be in order if you're Lovie Smith)?


by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:07pm

I think, with as much as they have invested in Grossman, they have to at least see what they've got. Orton has been BRUTALLY bad in his place, so it's not like putting Grossman in would hurt the team, other than shaking Orton's confidence. Still, I think the odds are better that Grossman will grow into a franchise QB than they are that Orton will.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:15pm

Grossman is clearly the franchise QB of the bears, but arn't we about 4 weeks premature in starting a QB conterversy in Chicago? Best case senario is he comes back a couple weeks before the playoffs, but I'm always nervous to start a guy in the playoffs who missed all of pre-season and the regular season.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:42pm

Let's just remember one thing:

Orton, right now, has a -35.2% DVOA.

Grossman, last year before he got injured, had a -18.8% DVOA. That being said, though, Orton has passed about three times as much as Grossman did last year.

So keep in mind it's not like Grossman was good. I don't really see the point of pulling Orton for him. Orton had a good game last week, and two weeks ago it's hard to blame him for trying to play in the Tornado Bowl.

Not trying to say Orton's a good rookie. Just that it's not like Grossman is better. When you're already at "suck", why switch for "slightly less suck" when you might accidentally get "Craig Krenzel-suck"?

by Akuzed (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:15pm

Okay. So. Grossman, or Orton. That is the question right? Orton, is a unproven quarterback, as a rookie. Grossman is just as unproven, for injury. With the playoffs just around the corner, do we want to stick with the devil we know, versus the devil we don't?

I think that -both- quarterbacks have the potential to be great. Franchise even. But I have to agree.... why start the controversy now? Let the kids have their time while they can. No need to forcast lighting and storms, when the system is still weeks away.

by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:18pm

What would Bill Cowher do?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:24pm

Orton had a DPAR of 2.5 last week, not very good, but it's at least about average. If he continues to play at that level for the next four weeks, I say he should keep his job as a starter. However if he starts to regress, let Grossman play the last two games (@GB & @Minny). Then if Grossman is really ready, let him start in the playoffs.

by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:57pm

B, that's what Wade Phillips would do.

by ajn (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:59pm

...if the bears make the playoffs.

by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:02pm

What would Orton's DPAR have been if Moose hadn't dropped a few critical passes that hit him in the hands? 1 in the endzone for a TD, one 50 YD (or so) bomb. I'm not an Orton homer by any means, but outside of one very bad game (Cinn) he's done a good job as a rookie. You also have to factor playcalling into this, which I don't think the formula you use does.

by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:04pm

I'm going to give Lovie the same advice I gave my little brother this time last year when he was considering dumping his long time girlfriend for someone new:

Don't do it...yet.

We're coming up on the holiday season (playoffs). Now is not the time to rock the boat. You need someone to have your back through the end of the year, someone you trust, a known commodity. It doesn't make sense to dump your ugly girlfriend (Orton) for a slightly less ugly (Grossman) girl, who is probably just using you to get to me.

by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:06pm

Unless she does something unforgiveable, like get drunk and pass out at Thanksgiving dinner (throw 3 picks and fumble twice in Tampa on Sunday). If THAT happens, well, dump away.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:12pm

#7: What Wade Phillips would do is start one guy, watch him single-handly screw up the game. bring in the other guy to save the game, then conclude that the first guy is the best choice for the playoffs.

#10: Not dumping a girl cause the holidays are approacing is lame. IF he really doesn't feel anything for his current girl, he should dump her now and not string her along just so he can have a date for Christmas.

by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:19pm

I think the dating analogies have gone a bit too far.

And neither Orton nor Grossman are in any way comparable to Doug Flutie (The Bears are winning, like Atlanta, in spite of their QB). Neither one is Rob Johnson bad either.

by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:45pm

RE: #12

Sounds like someone was stung along during the holidays....

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 8:45pm

I think, as bad as the NFC North is, that the Bears could give Grossman a couple of games worth of action. That way they can make an informed decision and make sure they have their best QB handy for their run through the playoffs.

Blindly sticking with Orton because you're winning with him isn't the greatest of ideas. Minnesota's winning with Brad Johnson. If Daunte Culpepper came back from his injury, wouldn't he get the starting job back, still?

If nothing else, I really think the Bears need to see what they have in Grossman.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 11:17pm


We appear to be destined to disagree.

I have been candid about Orton's flaws. Each of them date back to his time with Purdue and that element more than anything concerns me. The young man's learning curve is not exponential to say the least.

But the team does believe in Orton. The lad seems to have the confidence of his teammates. That counts.

Orton has been open to instruction and has followed the gameplan even though he chafes at being so tightly controlled by the coaches. That counts.

His arm is stronger and ergo better suited to the foul weather conditions soon to come. It's simplistic but Grossman is a touch guy. Touch passing is great if you are in a dome. Not off of Lake Michigan in mid-December. That counts.

Orton has played more games in the NFL. He has enjoyed more success. That counts.

This is a legit playoff contender. You make a change like this in the offseason when the Vikes dumped your beloved Jeff George for Culpepper. You certainly don't make change to see "WTF might happen".

I think you are suggesting these things just to have something to write about.

And shame on me for responding.......

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 11:54pm

Re 16: I see your point, but here's the thing. You don't get to go to the playoffs every year, and Lovie Smith has to know on some level that Kyle Orton, performing the way he is performing, is going to get them beat in the playoffs. It's not a question of if, it's just whether it happens in the first or second game. So sticking with Orton because it is the sensible or politic thing to do is akin to throwing away the season. If there is a player who is better than the guy who is out there, you need to give that player a chance to play.

Now the only question is this- is Grossman better. DVOA suggests he is, but only somewhat, and that was when he had a full training camp's worth of snaps. Now he's rusty and out of playing condition. It's a tough call, but I think Smith will take the first opportunity to put in Grossman that presents itself (a.k.a. a two game losing streak).

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 12:09am

Unless Grossman has contracted a case of chronic "Marinotosis" he will not be better than Orton this season. Rex isn't a vet with multiple seasons under his belt who can just hop back onto the field and make all the plays. He doesn't know what plays he can and can't make. Heck, I doubt he knows all the plays, period.

Folks, I really am at a loss where the notion comes that you can think "long-term" come December with the playoffs looming. The Bears need to win NOW. Changing QBs because of what Rex MIGHT do better would be a galactically stupid move.

Let him get his sea legs and come next training camp everyone's even. But right it's Orton's team.

Go tinker with your own teams. Keep you whack ideas away from my Bears!

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 4:52am

That's fine, and I understand where you are coming from. Just remember when you watch the Bears lose 17-0 in Dallas or Seattle as Orton churns out a solid 64 yards passing with one interception and two fumbles on the day...it didn't have to be that way. (Or maybe it did, but we'll never know.)

by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 1:19pm

How many solid games in a row would Orton have to put together in order to completely quell this discussion? Two? Three? I'm not saying he's necessarily going to, but if he does, I'm curious at what point do people chalk up all the awful-DPAR early-season games to the rookie learning curve and declare KO an adequate NFL starter.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 4:39pm

Tom- If I'm not mistaken, last week's game was Orton's best of the season, and it was the 20th best game played by a quarterback that day. If he's getting better, it's not by much.

by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 5:03pm

Sean -

Agreed. I was considering the hypothetical scenario in which Orton starts playing well this week.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 5:59pm

Lovie Smith has gone on record as saying that Orton will be the QB for the remainder of the season, barring injury of course.

I think that this is the right move, given the constant QB turn over that has happened for the Bears, even if it means a loss in the playoffs, because it gives stability to a situation that had none before the season. The fact that the Bears are doing so well this year is great, but I think next year is a better year to think superbowl, because you will have the defense still intact and another year in the system for the offense. We need to remember that this is a new offensive system this year for the bears so I think next year the Offense will climb out of the the cellar to mediocre and then WATCH OUT, BABY!

by Akuzed (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 9:50pm

Yes. Chicago needs to keep one Quarterback this Season. Chicago(if I am not mistaken) has had more QB changes in the last 5-10 seasons that -anyone- else. Stability for an entier season is a change. And that's a change that counts. Pay attention to NFC Central Freak. He knows his stuff. Let the defense continue. The offense will surge when and where it needs to. The Defense will carry the team.

Now before I stop this... at current the Bears rank 1st in Defense. They also rank 22nd in Offense.

In 200(Everyone remember that year?) The Baltimore Ravens had a shoddy offense as well, ranked about 14th, and the best defense. They won the superbowl.

You can have all the shootouts you want in the NFL. Those win games. Defense wins championships, and that, my good debaters, is what counts.