Bears need a casting call for backup quarterback

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach
    DBS Writer

    Mar 29, 2009
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    But they will wait awhile for market to shake out so they can acquire veteran understudy to Jay Cutler at their price

    By Dan Wiederer, Tribune reporter

    8:41 p.m. CDT, March 13, 2014

    The request for backup is imminent if not yet urgent. As good as the Bears' offense was last season, and even with all 11 starters on their way back, one key reinforcement still appears necessary: a No. 2 quarterback.

    It's an opening for which general manager Phil Emery's "Help Wanted" ad almost certainly will prioritize talent, intelligence and affability.

    Oh, and if at all possible, starting experience will be preferred.

    The Bears continue plowing through their offseason, currently waist-deep in free agency business with their focus heavily on defense. This month, Emery has made nine of his 11 signings on that side of the ball after Thursday's union with defensive end Willie Young.

    But, as always, the Bears' 2014 success still likely will hinge heavily on the quality of their quarterback play.

    Sure, Jay Cutler has his new seven-year, $126 million deal, evidence of the trust he has inside Halas Hall to continue growing into a championship-level quarterback. And if the exuberant team-bonding photos that keep popping up on Instagram this week are any indication, Cutler has plenty of rapport with his supporting cast, too.

    But the Bears know better than anybody that they also must shop around for insurance — just in case Cutler gets hurt.

    Like he did in 2011 when he broke his thumb trying to make a tackle after an interception.

    Or the next season when a ferocious hit from Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins gave him a concussion.

    Or last season when Cutler tore a groin muscle, then suffered a severe ankle sprain three weeks later.

    In games Cutler has missed or hasn't been able to finish because of injury since arriving in Chicago, the Bears are 5-12.

    So now what?

    Just browsing: On Wednesday, last year's backup, Josh McCown, signed an eye-opening deal with the Buccaneers for $10 million over the next two seasons. Now comes the search for McCown's successor with a hope that the new guy not only can be as productive and efficient when called on in an emergency but also can co-exist harmoniously with Cutler.

    Where will the applications come from?

    In-house candidates at Halas Hall include Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson.

    This week, the Browns released former Bear Jason Campbell as well as Brandon Weeden.

    Beyond that, the bargain shelf of the free agent market right now still has plenty of recognizable names from Shaun Hill and Colt McCoy to Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, and, yes, Luke McCown.

    Emery asserted Wednesday he isn't shopping actively in that market right now. But when the clearance sale is announced, quarterback tryouts at Halas Hall will commence.

    "At some point we'll probably bring in a bunch of veterans," Emery said. "After this wave of free agency — this first and second wave — we'll take a look at who's still looking for an opportunity, and we'll bring them in and we'll try them out. And we may sign another one."

    Palmer was re-signed to a one-year deal last weekend and Johnson has a reserve/futures contract that will allow him at least to audition as a developmental project during organized team activities and minicamp and into training camp.

    But as much as Emery will laud Palmer's arm strength and intelligence openly, there's no question the Bears would like to back Cutler with a No. 2 who has thrown more than 15 passes in an NFL regular-season game.

    Thus, the "Help Wanted" push, which castoff quarterbacks and their agents certainly anticipate.

    Going for gold: Trestman's intrigue in Weeden's intuition and skill set has been documented before. Before the 2012 Senior Bowl, while Trestman was still the coach of the Montreal Alouettes, he spent three days tutoring Weeden and openly praised his maturity, size and feel for the game.

    Might a follow-up call soon make sense?

    Sure, Emery acknowledged, the Bears always could take a flier in May and draft another quarterback as a possible backup. But with the holes on defense, that almost certainly would be a Day 3 pick. So forget about any push for Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo or Alabama's A.J. McCarron and see if the names Tom Savage, Bryn Renner or Keith Wenning do anything for you.

    Optimists see how Trestman guided McCown, transforming him from a minimum-salary nobody into a $10 million man, and believe the offensive savant has the ability to perform alchemy with just about any quarterback he finds.

    That's why it makes perfect sense that the Bears never gave McCown an invitation to return, not wanting to insult him with a paltry salary offer when they can seek out their next diamond in the rough for a fraction of the cost.

    Still, aggressiveness in that pursuit is needed. Too many Bears fans remain scarred from all the seasons that took a nose dive when backup quarterback play faltered badly.

    Past horrors: Emery's tenure as a Bears scout ended in 2004, shortly before a season in which Rex Grossman's torn ACL in September led to a dizzying quarterback circus that featured Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson as starters. Consider that season a dark comedy, a worst-case scenario.

    Caleb Hanie's miserable 2011 stint as Cutler's fill-in took the 7-3 Bears from NFC championship dreams into an 0-4 nightmare in Hanie's starts.

    In 2012, Cutler made 15 starts and the Bears won 10 of those. But he missed the second half of a Week 10 loss to the Texans plus the following week's defeat at San Francisco with a concussion. The Bears scored 10 points on 18 possessions without Cutler, lost both games and later lost a wild-card playoff tiebreaker to the Vikings.

    And if Emery's memory is too short-term to remember all that, then maybe he owes a call to Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who figured he was set at quarterback last season with the ultra-durable Aaron Rodgers as his starter. Then Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 9 and the Packers went batty trying to hold things together, starting Seneca Wallace, then Scott Tolzien and finally Matt Flynn but sputtering through a winless November.

    So, yeah, as much faith as the Bears have in Cutler to make good on his mega-deal and as much confidence as there seems to be everywhere for Trestman's skills as a quarterback guru, the insurance hunt has to continue.

    The ad is out there. All applicants are welcome.,0,3436431,full.story

  2. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    Member of the Month DBS Writer

    May 21, 2012
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    It will be interesting to see who they bring in.
  3. weneedmorelinemen

    weneedmorelinemen Pro-Bowler

    Jul 30, 2013
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    Luke McCown for backup QB!
  4. a_miljan

    a_miljan Pro-Bowler

    Aug 11, 2013
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    Rex is out there! :) He did it once he can do it again!

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