Positional Analysis: Quarterback

In the first in a series of breaking down every area of the Bears, we examine the most important position. Quarterback has been the Achilles heel for the franchise for decades. Do the Bears finally have their man in Rex Grossman or will Kyle Orton take the starting job?

Starter - Rex Grossman. Backups - Kyle Orton, Jeff Blake.

The Bears finished 31st in the league and passing and their quarterbacks had 11 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.

"There's so much work to be done with fundamentals and things like that and that's what you get done in the off-season and we'll have another great off-season," coach Lovie Smith said.

Still the Bears remain convinced Grossman is their quarterback of the future if only he can stay healthy. The three-year veteran has the confidence of his teammates, leadership qualities and intangibles plus a strong arm, quick release and good pocket presence that allow him to avoid sacks, even though he isn't very elusive. But Grossman has started just seven regular-season games, so he is far from a proven commodity.

Grossman will have the benefit of working in the same offensive for a second season for the first time in six years.

"For Rex going into the off-season healthy … he's our quarterback," Smith said. "So that's why there's a lot of excitement about what we can do offensively and how we finished up."

Orton played well for a rookie and showed promise. He has good size and a strong arm but lacked accuracy on longer throws and has virtually no mobility. He had a more eventful season than most rookies, starting 15 games even though he was a fourth-round draft pick who was slated to watch from the sidelines this season.

He said his off-season will be spent concentrating more on becoming a better quarterback than where he'll be on the depth chart, which is No. 2 behind Grossman.

"Whatever coach (Lovie) Smith feels is best for the football team," Orton said. "He'll make the right decision. It's his decision totally, so I really don't have anything to say on it."

Orton directed 10 Bears victories, including eight in a row. Although his statistics were mediocre, the results were excellent, and the on-the-job learning was invaluable.

"I know the routine," Orton said. "I know what the NFL is all about. I've been in it for a long year. It's a long year all the way through the season. Emotionally and physically it's a grind, but I know what to expect now."

Blake, who still has a live arm and quick feet at 35, played his role of veteran mentor to perfection. He seemed content to be an insurance policy and play only when necessary. He's a free agent, but said he will retire if he doesn't re-sign with the Bears. He's the ideal backup to a pair of young players.

If the Bears decide to go in a different direction than Blake, it's unlikely a free agent will be brought in to do anything other than add a veteran presence.

The biggest decision the Bears could make to upgrade their play at quarterback is to add playmakers at the skill positions through the draft and free agency.

Scout.com contributed to this report.


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