Bears win with timing, if nothing else

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Chicago Bears fans will spend eternity debating the team's decision to pit Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman in a quarterback competition this summer. But one thing everyone should agree on: Bears coach Lovie Smith did the right thing by making the call Monday.

Rather than extend the battle into the final week of the preseason, as he had suggested he might, Smith cut his losses and announced the decision. As a result, Orton will get a solid two weeks to practice and play as the Bears unquestioned starter before the regular season begins. He is expected to play into the third quarter Thursday night against San Francisco.

Orton, for one, called the decision "a relief." We have to imagine much of the team feels the same way. Whether they were pulling for Orton or Grossman, it's a certainty that most Bears players are happy simply to have an answer. The position is too important to have unresolved, and carrying it into the final week of the preseason would have been a tacit admission that Smith wasn't confident in either option.

In the end, the timing might not make any difference. But the it beats the alternative. Smith's decision will maximize whatever chance Orton has of succeeding this season as a starter.