2007 review: The Bears finished the season ranked a respectable 14th in passing at 231.3 yards per game, but they were just tied for 20th in touchdown passes (18), 27th in completion percentage (57.5), plus only the Rams, Cardinals, and Lions threw more interceptions (21).
Rex Grossman got off to a miserable start and was benched by Week 4, but he did play well once he was inserted back into the starting lineup later in the year. Brian Griese replaced Grossman as the starter and did spark the offense for a while, although he was turning the football over just as often as Grossman did before him. Kyle Orton was given an opportunity once the playoffs were out of reach, and he performed admirably in winning two of his three starts.
Orton is the only member of the trio assured of returning next season, as Grossman is an unrestricted free agent and Griese might now be expendable.
On the rise: After being relegated to third-string duties for nearly two years, Orton finally got a chance to strut his stuff again after winning 10 games as a rookie in 2005. While his 73.9 passer rating isn't anything to get excited about, he showed poise in the pocket and was the only QB in Chicago to have a positive TD-to-INT ratio this past season: 3-to-2. The former Boilermaker has earned the right to compete for No. 1 once training camp rolls around no matter who's invited to Bourbonnais.
Free falling: Griese was signed to a five-year contract before 2006 to be the veteran backup this team so desperately needed. He's proven that he can play well here and there and win a game or two when called upon, but he was billed as a high-percentage passer who would take care of the football. However, he threw 12 picks on only 262 passes in seven games, which is way too many for a player of his considerable experience.
QB Kyle Orton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Free agency/NFL Draft: Most everything depends on what happens to Grossman, who will have a chance to test the free agent waters for the first time and could be a perfect change-of-scenery candidate for another team. There is very little available on the open market, so the Bears might be better served re-signing Grossman as opposed to taking a flyer on the likes of Daunte Culpepper or Josh McCown. GM Jerry Angelo will probably shy away from selecting another signal-caller in the first round come April, especially because this year's crop under center is considered weak, but a high-upside prospect like Chad Henne of Michigan or Joe Flacco of Delaware in Round 2 is a possibility.
2008 preview: Despite everything he has been through in the Windy City over the course of the last five years, Grossman is in all likelihood the organization's best bet next season. If he is brought back, expect him to battle it out with Orton for the starting nod and Griese to be let go. But if Grossman ultimately decides to sign elsewhere, quarterback moves up a notch or two on Angelo's list of priorities on the first day of the draft.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.