Darn Kyle Orton. Just when we thought the Bears once again had to start from scratch at quarterback, Orton messed things up by proving unequivocally that he might or might not be good enough to be the The Man next season.

Darn Kyle Orton. Just when we thought the Bears once again had to start from scratch at quarterback, Orton messed things up by proving unequivocally that he might or might not be good enough to be the The Man next season.
Confused? You're not alone. Here's an exchange between a reporter and offensive coordinator Ron Turner after Sunday's thank-God-the-season's-over 33-25 victory over the New Orleans Saints:
Reporter: "Did Kyle's performance the last few weeks as much confuse as clarify the quarterback position?"
Turner: "I don't know if it does that."
Yeah, but does he know if it doesn't do that?
Less than a year after meeting at Soldier Field for the right to get smacked around in the Super Bowl, the Bears and Saints battled only for the right to be called Biggest NFL Disappointment. The final result: a tie, with dueling 7-9 records.
At the season's midway point, "Bleccch" was a perfectly good description of the Bears' quarterback situation, too, thanks to the mostly rotten play of Rex Grossman and Brian Griese.
Then Grossman came back and was better than abysmal; he got hurt and was replaced by Orton, who also wasn't abysmal.

As rallying cries go, "Our Quarterback Isn't Abysmal!" hardly inspires.
For his part, Orton guaranteed he'd be ready for any type of competition next season: "I've got all the confidence that if I get a chance, I'm gonna win the job."
Sunday, he went 12-for-27, passed for 190 yards, connected with remarkable Devin Hester for a long touchdown, hit Mark Bradley with a scoring pass, was intercepted once, fumbled twice (losing neither), threw some nice passes, missed a few open receivers and had a couple of passes dropped.
In other words, he was OK - just as he was OK the Sunday before that against Green Bay and OK the week before that at Minnesota after being elevated from the depths of the depth chart.
For what it's worth, Rex's passer rating in the five games after he returned to the lineup was 80.2, while Kyle's mark in his three starts was 73.9.
It's not worth much ... so what is Lovie Smith to do?
Well, one thing the coach won't do - much to the chagrin of most Bear Country precincts - is fire Turner.

After saying he didn't anticipate "major changes" this offseason, Smith was asked if changing a coordinator would be considered major. His sly answer: "I guess to somebody that planned on changing a coordinator, yeah, that probably would be."
Turner showed a wild side Sunday, calling a halfback-option pass that Adrian Peterson executed perfectly for a touchdown. The Bears also ran several other plays we hadn't seen earlier in the season as well as numerous deep passes.
A sign of a new, aggressive Ron Turner? A sign that he was more confident in Orton than was the case in 2005, when the then-rookie QB only had to "manage" games? A sign that the Saints' defense is really, really bad? Or a sign of the pressure-free Bears playing like a team with nothing to lose and even less to win?
Turner sang the praises of both Orton and Grossman, and Smith was predictably coy when asked about his 2008 QB depth chart.
"If I had to make one, I know exactly what it would be," Lovie said. "But since I don't, we're definitely not gonna go there. I'll just say that I like what (Orton) was able to do at the end of the year."
Ideally, the Bears would bring in a stud. Dream on. There are few in the world, and none is available. Nor should the team expect to find a ready-to-go QB in the draft.
Given that, I'd like to see Orton and Grossman compete for the job. Orton's slow windup makes him less of a natural than Grossman, but Rex is more likely to get the Bears in trouble with foolish throws. Both have leadership skills. Neither has speed. Both have proven they can help the Bears win games - or at least not cost the Bears too many games.
It would be an interesting battle, but we might never see it. 
Unlike Orton, Grossman is a free agent. Lots of nincompoops believe Rex is the worst QB ever, but I promise that several teams will pursue him because the level of quarterbacking around the league is a joke. So if the Bears want to keep Rex, a one-year, incentive-laden deal probably won't cut it.
As for Griese, he once and for all demonstrated that he's a passable backup at best.
Of course, many would say the same about Orton and Grossman - and it would be impossible at this point to prove them wrong.
Mike Nadel (mikenadel@sbcglobal.net) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.