Since drafting Orton in the fourth round in 2005, the Bears have had a history of trying to get a better quarterback.
They were forced to start him in his rookie year after Grossman was injured and Hutchinson struggled. He won 10 games, but the next season he was demoted to third string as Grossman was healthy again and the Bears signed Griese.
In 2007 Grossman was benched, and Griese replaced him. After the Bears were out of playoff contention, Orton finally was given the last three starts of the season. He won two.
The Bears finally decided Orton was their guy in 2008. He went 9-6 in 15 starts but didn't exactly light up the scoreboards.
In the offseason, he was sent to the Broncos in the widely heralded trade for Cutler.
The Bears tried to get Orton back last season after Cutler was injured, putting a waiver claim on him. But the Chiefs had priority in the claiming order, so he was awarded to them while current Bears general manager Phil Emery was working as the team's college scouting director.
Then in the offseason the Bears had another chance to acquire Orton. Instead, they moved quickly on the more mobile Campbell. Orton hooked up with the Cowboys, and his path will intersect with the Bears again Monday night as he is Tony Romo's backup.
Have the Bears been guilty of continually underestimating Orton? With his big arm and defense-friendly, low-risk style, he might have been perfect for this team and this city.
There is no question the Bears have more potential with Cutler than they would with Orton.
Cutler has done everything better with the Bears than Orton did — except win. Cutler has had a better passer rating (80.5 to 71.1) and completion percentage (59.4 to 55.3).
It's difficult to say what Orton would have done if he had stayed with Bears. Orton's Broncos numbers actually were better than Cutler's Bears statistics have been. Orton had a better passer rating (85.7) and completion percentage (60.3).
When the Bears see him standing on the Cowboys sideline, perhaps they will think about what might have been.
Numbers gamesWinning QBs
A quarterback's won-lost record isn't necessarily the best indicator of his impact. But the statistic certainly has some merit.
Here are the 10 best Bears since 1961 based on winning percentage for at least 15 starts.
1. Jim McMahon — .754. The punky QB was nothing if not a winner. Played on a team that wasn't half bad.
2. Mike Phipps — .700. Surprised by this one? Phipps started only 20 games, but he went 9-1 during the magical 1979 season.
3. Mike Tomczak — .677. Jimmy Mac's caddie kept it going pretty well during the regular season, but he was the starter for two playoff losses.
4. Kyle Orton — .636. His 21-12 record with the Bears was reversed (12-21) with the Broncos.