Since time eternal the Bears have been looking for their franchise quarterback (ok, maybe just since 1950, when Sid Luckman retired). The story’s as relevant today as it was a decade ago, when Brian Urlacher was still suiting up in Chicago.
Urlacher appeared on “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman to discuss the team’s long standing QB woes, and offered up his choice for the best quarterback he played alongside in Chicago: Kyle Orton.
“We’ve had some good players there,” Urlacher said on “My personal favorite guy to play with was Kyle Orton. I thought he did a really good job for us for a couple of years.
“Limited resources around him, but our defense was really good and he understood how good our defense was. So he wouldn’t turn the football over. We could do a three-and-out, whatever, just go back out there and play some defense. I think a lot had to do with the quarterback’s understanding of what his team was good at, and Kyle understood that.”
Former Bears running back Thomas Jones chimed in on Twitter and he agreed with Urlacher.
Kyle was the best QB we had. At least when I was there. But he didn't get a chance to develop. As a rookie in 2005 he made plays & didn't turn the ball over while we ran the ball at will, play great defense & special teams. He lost his confidence when he was benched for Rex. https://t.co/6NaWdNm8NV
In 2005, Orton led the Bears to a 10-5 record as a starter in his rookie season. However, he was benched for Rex Grossman who had returned from injury before the Bears took on the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round. The Bears lost 29-21 as Grossman completed 17-41 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Orton’s career record as a Bears starter was 21-12 across parts of three seasons in 2005, '07 and '08.
The 2005 Bears were a sight to behold and 2 prominent players on that team come together on the Under Center podcast. Host Laurence Holmes is joined by Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and Aftershow teammate Lance Briggs as they have a fun conversation about leading one the most dominant defenses in NFL history.
(2:30) - Playing golf and being retired
(6:30) - When did they know they were good at football
(9:30) - Is Lance Briggs a Hall of Famer?
(13:58) - Celebrating 20 years since Brian Urlacher was drafted
(17:35) - Can they turn off the competitive side when coaching their kids
While the two chatted with Laurence Homes during NBC Sports Chicago's "Be Chicago: Together We Can" telethon, Urlacher didn't hold back when asked why Briggs missed the cut in his first year of eligibility:
He should have got in, that’s how I feel. Him and Olin [Kreutz], I don’t understand. When [Kevin] Mawae got in last year, that’s going to help Olin because Olin was just as good, if not better, in my opinion. Probably better. Playing against him every day in practice, man. God, he was so good. And he helped us get better as defense, as individual players, as well. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lance should be in, as well. You know, you look at his numbers, the Pro Bowls, the All-Pros, just the sheer tackle numbers, the interceptions, the fumbles.
It drives me crazy. And Charles [Tillman], as well. You look at Charles’ numbers, just his takeaways. Put his fumbles, caused fumbles, picks, touchdowns together, and there’s not hardly going to be any DB’s that can match up with those takeaway numbers in the Hall of Fame or on the fringe of the Hall of Fame. So look at the Pro Bowls. look at the All-Pros. The Pro Bowls don’t matter to me. That’s voted on by the players and fans. Who cares? The All-Pros and the big numbers that you have, Lance … it drives me crazy. It’s a popularity contest. It’s that way every year. Hopefully, you’ll win the popularity contest one of these days. I’m in your corner buddy.
Briggs had a stellar 12-year career in Chicago that included seven Pro Bowls and three All-Pro nominations while starting 170 out of 173 games. He finished his Bears career with 1,181 tackles, 15 sacks, 16 interceptions and six defensive touchdowns. He and Urlacher anchored some of the best defenses in Bears history, though the latter is the only representative of those teams in Canton so far.
You can listen to their entire conversation on the latest episode of the Under Center podcast right here or in the embedded player below: