After the Bears acquired Jay Cutler, I was amazed to hear people on talk radio still singing the praises of Kyle Orton. For those who don’t know them, here are Orton’s stats for last season: He completed 58.5 percent of his passes, for 2,972 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His quarterback rating came in at 79.6.
Does that sound like Pro Bowl passing to you? It doesn’t to me.
Simply put, Orton was a mediocre quarterback. There was nothing remotely special about him. I’ll never figure out why so many people seemed to love the guy. The only difference between Orton and Rex Grossman is that Grossman could every once in a while connect on a deep ball.
Orton joins a long line of Bears personnel who have all the love but none of the statistics to back it up.
Let’s start with the biggest of them all: Mike Ditka.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Ditka back in 1984 and 1985 — I’m old enough to have watched those seasons, by the way. He was the perfect coach for those teams. But Ditka underachieved immensely following those two season. Sure, he compiled a stellar regular season win-loss record. Remember, though, the old NFC Central was one weak division during most of Ditka’s stay. When Ditka’s teams reached the playoffs after 1985, they disappointed. Following a 14-2 record in 1986, the Bears laid an egg at home and were pounded by Washington 27-13. In 1987, they lost their first game again to Washington, this time by a 21-17 score.
Then in 1988, the Bears finally won another playoff game, beating the Eagles in the famous Fog Bowl. They were humiliated 28-3, though, the following week at home by their old nemesis, the San Francisco 49ers. In 1990, the Bears won another playoff win, though it came against a mediocre 8-8 New Orleans Saints team. There were crushed 31-3 the following week by the Super Bowl bound New York Giants.
In Ditka’s last playoff appearance, in 1991, the Bears were outclassed by Troy Aikman and the on-the-rise Dallas Cowboys.
Take out the 1985 season, and Ditka’s Bears were only 3-6 in the playoffs. Not too impressive.
So why all the love for Ditka? He was a good coach. But not a great one.