Kyle Orton is slated to be the only rookie quarterback to start a season opener this year, and Chicago's first since 1954. Orton was named starter after Rex Grossman broke his left ankle in the second preseason game and backup Chad Hutchinson was released. Washington's blitz-heavy defense confounds even mobile, veteran quarterbacks. So Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, must relish facing a textbook drop-back passer who has never played in an NFL regular season game.
Last year, the Redskins collected 40 sacks -- ninth-best in the league -- largely by blitzing from all angles. (Cornerback Shawn Springs, for example, tied for the team lead with six sacks.) Conversely, Chicago's offense set a club record in futility by allowing 66 sacks.
Orton has a strong arm that allowed him to finish the preseason ranked second in the league with an average of 10.2 yards per pass. Orton has publicly exhibited the confidence needed against Washington's attacking defense. Nonetheless, Chicago will try to minimize Orton's mistakes by taking a run-heavy approach. Last season, Thomas Jones set career highs with 948 rushing yards on 240 carries (averaging four yards) plus seven touchdowns. Chicago also will use tailback Cedric Benson, who was chosen fourth overall in April's draft. But Benson's touches are expected to be limited after he missed the first 36 days of training camp while holding out.