September is less than a week away, which means summer is nearly over, which means I am closer and closer to the point at which I can legitimately give up on the Cubs and move all my energy and attention to the Bears. I’m pretty much done with baseball, as this past week has been a complete disaster. Including today’s loss to the Marlins, a game that dropped us seven under .500, the Cubs have now lost six of seven, all six losses coming by two runs or less. It appears that this team has taken all of the negative elements of the 2004 team—sloppy play, injuries, poor base running, an imbalanced lineup, a lousy bullpen—along with a talent downgrade in the outfield, and ended up with a less than mediocre fourth place squad. If only Jim Mora were here right now. “Playoffs? Playoffs?” To think that this Cub team has a first baseman who is leading the league in batting and flirting with a Triple Crown, an all-star third baseman, a good hitting catcher, a solid middle infield…whatever. It’s all a waste. The good news is that D. Lee, Aramis, Barrett, Zambrano, Prior, and Wood will all be back, and they’ll blow the rest of the team up and start putting it back together with over 70 million dollars in salary room. Jim Hendry has clearly had his worst full year ever as GM, and so he’ll get to redeem himself this offseason and turn it around. But really, my interest is gone, and that’s fine…
…because holy hell, check out Kyle Orton! If Lovie Smith has any brains at all, and I think he does, Orton will be the starting quarterback for Week 1. The Bears beat the Bills 16-12 yesterday behind another rock solid defensive performance—no touchdowns allowed for Buffalo, whose only trip to the endzone came on a Nate Clements pick return off Chad Hutchinson (we’ll get to him shortly)—but the newsmaker was the rookie quarterback out of Purdue who led the Bears’ first-team offense down the field in the third quarter for a momentum-swinging score. Orton completed seven of nine passes on that magical drive for 74 yards and a touchdown pass, with the two incompletions coming on balls that were nearly caught.
As a Bears fan, there is nothing that wakes me up more than a drive that goes straight down the field. It looks so pretty, so planned, so…professional. Oh my word! Did you see that? They just threw nine passes, and completed seven of them. And one of them was for points…for us! It’s incredible! This is what it must feel like to root for Green Bay or New England or Indy or Philly. The defense has been terrific, as has the ground game with Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson. Benson still hasn’t signed, but I’m sure with each game as he sees how good our backs are, he’s got to be sweating. This team has been pounding the ball and stuffing the run and forcing turnovers, and now we’ve got a quarterback who can throw. Every Bear fan who watched had the exact same thoughts: “So THIS is what a professional football team is supposed to look like.” Man, it feels god damned good.
Meanwhile, the man who was supposed to be the starter may have punched his ticket out of town. Chad Hutchinson completed five passes yesterday: three to our guys, two to theirs, and wouldn’t you know it? Their guy got the touchdown. Three notes and observations about the Bears quarterback “controversy,” if you can really call it that:
1. Hutch was an unspectacular college quarterback whose original career path was professional baseball. He has already failed at that.
2. In his return to the NFL, he lost his starting job on a bad Cowboys team to Quincy Carter, a guy himself now out of the league.
3. Halfway into last season, Orton was a Heisman candidate at Purdue and a sure-fire first round pick. Injuries and some poor games dropped him out of Heisman contention and out of the first round, though most scouts still thought that he would be a second rounder. That he fell all the way to the Bears in the fourth was an enormous surprise. Had it not been for the second half of the season, the Orton vs. Hutchinson question would not even be a question, because we wouldn’t worry about Kyle Orton because he wouldn’t be a Bear because someone else would have taken him way earlier than we wanted to.
And finally, my final thoughts on Chad Hutchinson: Hutch is the seven foot tall kid who went to your high school. Of course he’ll make the basketball team. It doesn’t matter if he can play or not—the kid is seven feet tall, and that’s all that it takes. Period. Hutch is raw numbers. That’s what he is. He’s 6’5” 234 pounds with a big arm. That’s it. Hopefully, the Bears will make an intelligent decision and give Orton the job.
More on football from readjack.com
December 5, 2004, Bears 24 Vikings 14: Hutch was spectacular in his Bears debut