Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, April 13: Do the Bears need a veteran backup QB?

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Here we go again with Four Down Territory. We're going to have one every day this week through Friday so get your questions in. Let's get started.

Q: Does the acquisition of Jay Cutler change the strategy for backup quarterback? Does it increase of decrease the need to sign a veteran?

Terry L. Boulder, Colo.

A: We wrote here on Sunday that nobody finds the backup quarterbacks like the Bears, listing Brian Griese, Jeff Blake and Chris Chandler as examples of solid quarterbacks who arrived at Halas Hall after they had become journeymen. There doesn't look to be a lot left on the scrap heap right now. Did you have someone specific in mind? J.P. Losman, Charlie Frye, Gus Frerotte, Trent Green, Charlie Batch and Brooks Bollinger are out there. New agent Drew Rosenhaus is shopping Rex Grossman for the minimum. Grossman will not be returning to the Bears. Looks to me like the Bears will stand pat with what they have. If they were comfortable--and Lovie Smith said as much at the combine--with Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez competing for the No. 2 job behind Kyle Orton, why wouldn't they be comfortable with one of those two behind Cutler?

You know what you're going to get from those veterans I listed. Hanie could be better. He's not going to be any worse than Frye, I can about promise you that much. Hanie generated a little buzz for himself in the preseason last summer when he posted the best numbers of any of the Bears quarterbacks. What stood out most though was his ability to make plays. He showed real awareness in the pocket and had the ability to scramble around, avoid hits and make complete throws. His mobility might match what Cutler has. That means the Bears could have two quarterbacks with similar physical traits and that would probably be a good thing in terms of continuity in the playbook should disaster strike. At this point, maintaining the course looks to be the best option. Why not see what the Bears have in Hanie and Basanez?

Q: I have had a longtime problem with general manager Jerry Angelo and the entire coaching staff being represented by Frank Bauer and Sun West Sports. With Angelo, Lovie Smith, Bob Babich and Ron Turner and now Rod Marinelli all be represented by the same man it not only seems like an odd coincidence but like there is some good ol' boy backroom deals being made by the Bears management. Turner's return as offensive coordinator seems to make this point. He e was a lousy offensive coordinator the first time around, he has a bad college record and in his second shot at being the Bears offensive coordinator he has proven over and over he can't develop players who leave Chicago and go elsewhere to be successful. What are your thoughts on the buddy system coaching staff in Chicago?

Jim B., Las Vegas

A: For starters, I do not believe that Bauer represents Angelo. The general manager was signed to an extension through 2013 after the Bears' Super Bowl appearance and I do not believe Angelo had representation, at least with Bauer. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain about that. You're right, the appearance is there is a good ol' boy network in place. Thing is, you'll find that with every team in the league. Guys are going to hire guys they've worked with before or are friends with or guys that were recommended by their friends. That's how the business works. It's not unique to Halas Hall, I promise you that. As far as Turner, it's also worth noting he did not become a client of Bauer until after he returned to the Bears for his second go-round. So that's not a move that was orchestrated by an agent. For a little more insight into this, we reached out to a veteran agent who works with coaches to get his opinion. He was aware of the Bears' arrangement and said it's not odd. "When you represent the head coach, you've got access to the building,'' the agent said. ``It's better for the head coach to have the representative that works for the other guys because then at least everyone works together and no one is split out from the group. It's not a bad thing. It would lead me to believe that Frank will not try to promote Ron Turner or Rod Marinelli over and above the good of the team. The philosophy of the agent should be, `I have the head coach and that's the big pay day.' The thing you don't want on a coaching staff is a lot of self-promotion going on. They're all under Frank so I don't think that is going to happen. This kind of thing goes on. No big deal.'' As the agent said, if the coaching staff wins, it stays together. If it loses, no agent is going to save the lot from being canned. Some were surprised Babich kept his job after another poor year by the defense but pretty much all he has left is the title of defensive coordinator. Make no mistake, it's Smith's defense now.

Q: There has been a lot of talk about adding a high end wide receiver but after watching Tom Brady carve up defenses with below average wide receivers for several years, I think Jay Cutler can do plenty with the guys the Bears have. Is anyone else tempted to push for a good running back to complement Matt Forte? I would love to get a bruiser. I'm really surprised there isn't more talk of adding talent to the running game. If Cutler throws for another 4,000 yards this year, he might go to another Pro Bowl but the Bears will not win in the playoffs.

Larry, Parts Unknown

A: I think the Bears did land a complement to Forte when they matched the deal on the table by the Buffalo Bills to re-sign Kevin Jones. At 6-foot, 228 pounds, he has good size and he will be 1 1/2 years removed from his ACL injury at the start of the season. The coaching staff seems committed to doing a better job of dividing the workload this season and Jones should be a big part of that with Garrett Wolfe perhaps figuring into the mix. Of the needs the Bears have at this point, this one ranks pretty low. We'll discuss just where it is Tuesday morning when we continue our positional series on the draft.

Q: When will the Bears start and end training camp? I am planing a trip to see Bears and Cubs.

Bill F., Sacramento, Calif.

A: That is a good question and one that cannot officially be answered until the schedule comes out. The NFL will release the regular-season schedule Tuesday at 6 p.m. on NFL Network. The Bears are not guaranteed to have their preseason schedule finalized until Wednesday, the day preseason contracts are due in the league office. A club spokesman said the hope is to have the final dates on Tuesday in conjunction with the rest of the schedule. Why does all of this matter? Training camp cannot begin until 15 days before the first preseason game. The window for the Bears' first preseason game at Buffalo is Aug. 13-16. Tentatively, that game will be played Aug. 15. If that holds true, the first training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University will be July 31. That's if I have this 15-day thing figured out properly, which I believe I do. That would mean players report to ONU on July 30, or about a week later than last year. Training camp typically runs about three weeks. The Bears would probably head North to Halas Hall after their second preseason game which will be between Aug. 20-23 at Soldier Field against the New York Giants. Again, this is a rough window for camp. Here is the Cubs schedule. Here is the Sox schedule. Here is the Kane County Cougars schedule. Here is the Joliet Jackhammers schedule.

Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll check back with a Q&A on Tuesday.

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My feeling is if ""GOD FORBID"" Cutler gets injured, give the job to Hanie or Basanez. Give these guys a chance. Cutler is going to be the QB for the next ten years. We need to get these guys experience, for a possible trade if ""whatever happens""! Who knows, maybe Hanie is the next Tom Brady, or the guy who backs up Peyton Manning. Maybe some team will trade us picks for one of these guys in the future, if not then. we will draft a Qb in the first round. OH, WAIT, we haven't had any of that good luck, or good scouting.

If Cutler goes down: We will be the Cubs and WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.

We do not need another QB. Fill the holes, draft defense, and we will go on.


I agree. The Bears always talk about getting players to develop, but never develop the players they already have. Put Hanie and Bazanez in a game and see what they have before you start looking for their replacements. Same goes for Wolfe, Jones, Bennett, Rideau and probably more that I'm forgetting.

You said one thing there at the end about the QBs that I really like and agree with. What Hanie brings to the game is very similar to Cutler. They both have decent size, a strong arm and good mobility combined with good pocket presence. That similarity is a good thing.

Turner said he would adjust his game planning to Cutler's skillset vs what he had with Orton. I'd imagine this means things like more design rollouts to take advantage of his mobility, and more strong-arm routes, such as deep sidelines. Hanie can probably handle most of that.

Is Hanie as good as Cutler? Probably not, but if Hanie has to replace Cutler in the middle of a game, they don't have to adjust the game plan very much on the fly. That gives them a better chance to win a game if and when Cutler has to come out. That's why they pay the backup after all.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 13, 2009 5:24 PM.

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