Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Feb. 12: Is Angelo waiting for 2010 QB class?

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The scouting combine begins a week from today in Indianapolis, and two weeks from now teams and agents will be sitting next to their phones waiting for free agency to begin. Let's get right into Four Down Territory.

Q: I've heard that the quarterback crop coming out next year far exceeds that of this year. Could it be that Jerry Angelo has decided to wait until next year to draft that franchise quarterback the Bears so desperately need? Seems to me this would give Kyle Orton one more chance to prove himself. Plus, why waste a draft pick this year on a quarterback that isn't NFL ready when you can see a bumper crop of quarterbacks available next year. Of course, I thought that Atlanta's QB Matt Ryan wasn't that great of a draft pick, and look how that turned out.

Joe, Metropolis, Ill.

A: I think you're trying to play connect-the-dots with the Bears and the quarterback position and as we know that's a dangerous game. Committing to Orton as the quarterback for 2009 doesn't have anything to do with the talent available at quarterback in this draft or next.

Orton, like Rex Grossman before him, is a draft pick of the franchise who the Bears believe has the skills to develop. Based on the first half of 2008, he does. Based on the second half of 2008, he's got to get a lot better. Some talent evaluators really like Georgia's Matthew Stafford and USC's Mark Sanchez and there seems to be a little buzz growing for Kansas State's Josh Freeman. I'm not sure the 2010 class that could include Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Florida's Tim Tebow, Ole Miss' Jevan Snead and Texas' Colt McCoy, among others. Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour could be in the mix too.

Remember, the quarterback draft of 1999 was supposed to be on the greatest of all-time, potentially one that could rival the dynamite 1983 class.

It produced five passers in the first 12 picks:

1. Tim Couch
2. Donovan McNabb
3. Akili Smith
11. Daunte Culpepper
12. Cade McNown, Bears

The 2004 class still looks strong:

1. Eli Manning
4. Philip Rivers
11. Ben Roethlisberger
22. J.P. Losman

Like you wrote, it's hard to tell going into a draft what a quarterback is going to do once he comes out of it. If Orton doesn't pan out--and the Bears really believe he's going to take the next step--they'll be in the market for a quarterback in the 2010 draft. They might have to trade places with the Detroit Lions for a shot at Bradford though.

Q: Maybe you covered this topic already, but I'm looking for some context in the decision to move up the veteran minicamp to next month. Will there be any supplemental team activities during the usual minicamp time this summer? What real advantage do the Bears see from moving it up? If it is such a good idea, why is it not then the standard practice around the league to hold minicamps earlier in the offseason?

Mike L., Phoenix

A: Excluding the teams with new head coaches, teams are permitted to hold one mandatory three-day minicamp in the offseason. I'm not sure it really matters that much where it's positioned, whether it's early in spring or within a month or so of training camp. Lovie Smith has not addressed the decision, to my knowledge, but my take on the move is that he wants to set a tone for the entire offseason and he wants to do it first thing. Makes sense to me. The Bears will not get additional dates to conduct workouts because it's been moved up. The voluntary offseason program starts in April and runs into June with OTA's held in late May and June. Per the CBA, all of that work is voluntary.

Q: I just read that the Jaguars released Jerry Porter. Do you see the Bears taking a chance on Porter? I like his skills, and if the Bears could get him at a reasonable price I think it would be worth the chance.

Bjarke H., Aalborg, Denmark

A: You've touched on one of the real dangers of free agency--outrageous spending on non-impact players. Well, that's maybe not fair. Sounds like Porter made quite an impact as a destructive force in the locker room. He signed a $30 million, six-year contract with $10 million guaranteed and produced 11 catches for 181 yards and one touchdown. Jacksonville also released cornerback Drayton Florence after one season. Between him and Porter, the Jags wasted $23 million, an astounding figure. But they did the right thing and admitted a mistake and are moving forward.

The Bears showed no interest in Porter last offseason. I highly doubt they'll be moved to pick up the phone this time even if Porter is willing to pay his own way here.

Q: There are rumblings that Matt Leinart might try to push for a trade if Kurt Warner gets re-signed. He has talent, is relatively inexpensive and could probably use the old "change of scenery." Ideally, Arizona would keep him given his talent and contract, but the Cardinals probably don't want a malcontent quarterback in the fold. Wouldn't he be the ideal person to compete with Kyle Orton? He's young, has upside, is inexpensive and could probably be had for less than a first-round pick. Thoughts?

Tom N., Parts Unknown

A: Now that would be something. We could put together dueling portfolios of online photos for both quarterbacks. What do you think? I don't think the Cardinals are going to give up on Leinart before they give him another complete opportunity to be their starter. I'm not sure Leinart has shown anything when he has been on the field to make the Bears or anyone else still believe he's a top talent. He struggled picking up the offense, there were concerns about his commitment and he's been injured. That's a trifecta of warning signs right there. Now, the former USC star could still blossom into a winning quarterback. He's reportedly made good strides in terms of preparation and work off the field. I don't think the Cardinals will concern themselves if Leinart isn't happy. Remember, they had an unhappy wide receiver all last season and that worked out pretty well for them on the field. Quite frankly, Arizona couldn't trade Leinart and risk the chance he becomes a winner elsewhere. That would be the ultimate embarrassment. He will get an opportunity with the Cardinals, it's just a matter of when Kurt Warner is no longer in the picture.

Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll hit one more Four Down Territory for the week on Friday. Get your questions in now.

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The Bears operate in curious ways. Jerry Angelo says he's not convinced Orton is the long term answer. That provokes a chorus from the coaching staff endorsing Orton as the long term answer. Really, it's impossible to know with certainly what that means. They claim they want to bring in QBs to "compete" with Orton, I guess to bring out the best in him? Who knows.

What is for sure is you can never have too many good arms, and good arms in reserve. The NFL is littered with one or two year wonders. The Redskins were happy with Mark Rypien, then not happy. The Giants loved Kerry Collins then fell out of love. None of these guys were what you would call franchise QBs. And those teams always seemed to have other arms to fall back on.

Even the great Ron Wolf, with the great Brett Favre, was not content and kept stockpiling QB talent. Hey, if nothing else, you can trade them for picks later.

But the Bears, for some reason, fall in love with those types and it takes years to move on. Obviously a blind spot in their team building philosophy.

That's why I would welcome any and all attempts to get arms in camp. See what it would take to get Cassell, or Leftwich. See if moving up to get Sanchez or moving around to get Freeman is not too prohibitive. Look ahead to 2010 and start thinking about McCoy and Bradford (BTW, the Lions will probably pick Stafford this year, Brad, not Bradford next year). Look anywhere and everywhere. At all times. Never be satisfied until you've got the franchise. And remember, Ron Wolf wasn't satisfied even then.

Brad, perhaps the most controversial argument amongst Bears fan's seems to have been Grossman vs Orton headed into 2008. There are plenty of Orton haters as well as those who seem to be glad to give Rex the boot. Many fans still clamor for Grossman, making claims that the Bears will live to regret letting Grossman go. What's your position on this issue? Are there teams indicating an interest in Rex? Do you think releasing Rex will become another poor personnel decision by the Bears current regime?

We are the Bears, we don't need no freakin Quarterback!! We need linebackers and line and you name it but QB's we don't need no freekin QB!!


When looking at the free agent WR class this year, one name interests me a lot and that is Nate Washington. He is a young guy just entering his 4th season. He has displayed the ability to make plays downfield. He has shown that he can play in bad weather on poor field conditions in Pittsburgh which is similar to Chicago. I think he is very similar to Bernard Berrian only we won't have to spend as much to get him. I think that it's time to stop spending our money on veteran receivers who have already peaked and start spending that money on young guys like Washington who have a ton of upside. What do you think of the possibility of Washington starting opposite of Hester next year?

Face it, Bear fans....As long as we stay with Orton, this year will be a waste!!!! I foresee 8-8, 7-9, if we are lucky. We do have the easiest schedule but I think most of the teams that sucked last year will improve before we do. Cincy, Cleveland, and even Detroit and Green Bay had worse records then us but after Detroit picks first, they will all have better QBs then we do!!!! We will stick with Orton and suffer all year!!!.......People blame Ortons second half season sucking to his ankle injury but I think the reason he sucked is because defensive coordinators had more film of him to watch and figured him out!!!! Now they all know his weaknesses so he his going to suck forever!!!!!Time for a change!!!NOW before it's too late!!!

Addressing a few points above:
1. Is it a mistake to release Rex? I was a HUGE Grossman fan and continue to admire his professionalism and his guts. But you can't get away from his downsides: his inability to deal with a pass rush and his inaccuracy. He can't make plays on the run. The NFL means "not for long" when a QB has those issues. Give him a pat on the back for helping us get to the SB. And I sincerely wish him luck because he is a class act. But it's not happening here.

2. Sure, get Nate Washington. Get Mike Furrey too. Those may be the kinds of bargains Angelo is willing to invest on Orton. Just realize that Washington was on the receiving end of a QB who could pull play after play out of his rearend.

3. I don't blame Orton's poor second half on anything but his inaccuracy, which is pretty woeful. If that was because of his injury, OK, but lots of QBs play through injury. Why his gets him a pass is interesting. I'm guessing every year he or whoever is taking snaps will play more than a few games less than 100 percent. You'd like to think that if the injury is affecting his game that much, you'd have a backup that could do better. That tells me they'd already given up on Rex as any kind of productive QB.

Bear Fans:

Jerry Angelo is an interesting man. If you listen to what he says, he frequently tips us off on what he intends to do. His speech about the QB position was a watershed moment in Bears history. If you read between the lines what he was saying is that he plans on making a move that will make him a legend in Chicago. There will be a giant statue made of Angelo outside Soldier Field. He is going to bring Tim Tebow to Chicago. It is going to take a lot of hard work but JA is fully committed to do it. I am asking all of the Bear fans out there to join together and support this action by Jerry.

Good luck Mr. Angelo. Bring the Messiah home.

Fan55...dude...Sorry to say, but Jerry won't be around next year to bring Tebow home.....he's going to stick with Kyle this year, the Bears will suck because of that, and he and his merry men of jokers will all get fired!!!!!!!!!!Arevaderci.......

If Jerry's plan is to bring Tim Tebow in to Chicago, then the only statue he will get will be one that looks like the statues along the lakefront..covered in pigeon excrement.

Tim Tebow is an outstanding young man, and a tremendous leader at the college level, but he is going to have a hard time adjusting to the NFL game early on. his arm strength and ability to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field consistently are all things that he will need to work on. Jerry will not be made a legend by drafting another work in progress at the quarterback position. He needs a Matt Ryan-type player, who can come in a play the position in an NFL offense, and be able to hold his own early on, and develop into a superstar.

That being said, Jerry does have a fascination with Florida players, and it would not surprise me if he wasn't trying to get a second round pick earmarked for Tebow. Right now the "experts" had projected him as a 3rd or 4th round pick as a QB, perhaps sooner as an H-back type player (possibly 2nd round). Given Jerry's track record of trading back, he could be thinking to get a bunch of picks by moving out of the first round into the early second, and take Tebow and others to start turning over the roster, as we are getting older at key positions. Guys who will need to be replaced in the next 2-4 years:

Alex Brown--may not get another deal from us--need some new blood at the DE position
Patrick Mannelly
Brad Maynard
Dez Clark
Adrian Peterson

Not to mention if we get any serious injuries, or just want an upgrade to what we have. I see it as a definite possibility, but I would have to say I am not too keen on the idea of Tebow as our QB of the future. I need to see more out of him as a passer, and not just an athlete, during his senior campaign. Otherwise, we end up with Vince Young or Mike Vick without all the drama. Maybe not that bad, but certainly not a franchise game changer..

Fan55 you must not have been paying attention as a QB Tebow would blow in the NFL his arm strenght is questionable and his pocket presence is weak at best, be might be a great H-Back, but the disgraced Mike Vick is intriguing bought in for a look might not be a bad thing. The draft should be mainly linemen on both sides but mostly offense and the idea of Nate Washington is lukewarm look in the Div.ll areas and finally give Rideau a chance might solve your problem.


I agree mostly with Bob K. Orton has serious accuracy issues and they did not improve throughout the course of the season. I still have an extremely difficult time trying to figure out why Chicago kept Hester at WR when they knew his speed wasn't a real threat with Kyle Orton at QB.

Why did they not run more formations to get Hester in the open field? I saw them run the Wildcat a couple of times against St. Louis. I assumed that was preparation to try on a real opponent. But I never really saw it again.

I think the Bears made the bad personnel move with Grossman when they let Wade Wilson get away and they stopped coaching and/or supporting him because no-talent highlight reel junkies like Jay Mariotti and pretty much every ESPN anchor went on the attack.

Grossman could have overcome his shortcomings. Bear coaches, fans, and media weren't patient enough. They chose to turn a blind-eye to the ineptability of Cedric Benson and the entire offensive line. And the unwillingness and heartlessness of Berrian and Moose.

Pretty sad.

Orton has good command. He can run a 2-minute offense. If he's the guy, then, well, fine. I hope he's successful.

I just don't know why Lovie doesn't move Hester back to full time returner, or dare I say, trade him!? Especially, if they aren't committed to utilizing his hall of fame speed and field vision.

How heartbreaking is it to watch Orton miss sure deep touchdowns over and over and over again?

I mean, the Bears have some holes to fill at other positions. There's no sense in keeping Hester if they're not going to use him. I think he's worth too much to be a decoy. Dont' you?

And no, 50+ short slants and reciever screens to the leagues fastest game speed reciever and greatest (sorry AP) open field runner is not properly utilizing your talent.

Pretty pathetic.

The Bears need to draft a great QB! We always miss out on the good ones Terry Bradshaw,Ryan Smith ect. Its terrible that Green bay had Farve for several years but we have not had one great quarterback. Please draft a good one management!

By DeputyDawg on February 13, 2009 1:53 PM
Fan55 you must not have been paying attention as a QB Tebow would blow in the NFL his arm strenght is questionable and his pocket presence is weak at best, be might be a great H-Back, but the disgraced Mike Vick is intriguing bought in for a look might not be a bad thing.

What are you talking about? Do some reserch if you don't know what you are talking about.

Frist Tebow, I myself don't think he will make it as a QB in the NFL, but his arm strength has never been a question mark. He has a cannon for an arm, his probelm is his feet and he plays in a spread offense. But his arm is a cannon. As for Vick, Matt Ryan proved what a bad QB Vick was by making Vicks recievers who looked bad with Vick, look very good with him. VICK SUCKS!! Maybe you two could get together find a couple of defensless puppies and kill them.

Joe whats up with you man, you are off your game? Angelo has not drafted a Florida player sense 2004. You know when he drafted like 4 or five of them and all of them stank. By the Way Tebow is Rex large, they have almost the same exact style of play and talent, Tebow is just bigger. Please no spread offense QB's.

I'd blow a 4th or 5th rounder on White from WVU.What the hell?... better than a reach for some DB from Mexico City Institute of Agricultural Engineering of Watershed Proprieties and Subsidence A&M!!

I like Tebow, he is a winner and can run and move in the pocket. Yes his mechanics are weak, but the guy is a leader and can be most likely picked up in the 2nd or 3rd round of thedraft next year.

I say bring him in, with the BEARS stellar group of coaches and history of developing all pro QB's it will be only a matter of time before Tebow will be allowed to go into Free agency and become the all pro QB he is destined to be. Unfortunately, with another team.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 12, 2009 4:53 PM.

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