It’s no secret that the backup quarterback position has been an issue for the Chicago Bears over the past few seasons. Caleb Hanie faltered in the 2010 NFC Championship Game and never materialized into a suitable backup during the 2011 campaign. Todd Collins, who overtook Hanie on the depth chart during 2011, was even more awful in his brief appearances as a starter. After that, Josh McCown filled a roster spot but was a meaningless acquisition. And, most recently, Jason Campbell disappointed in his opportunities with the team.
One of the issues here was former General Manager Jerry Angelo’s ineptitude when it came to obtaining and developing quarterbacks for the Bears system. Angelo consistently placed a heavy emphasis on defense, which is what he knew best, and disregarded the numerous problems on the offensive side of the ball. The other issue, however, is the fact that these backup quarterbacks ever even saw the field in the first place. Jay Cutler has had injury problems over the past few years, which created opportunities for the aforementioned backups to get playing time. However, Cutler has also done very little to assure the Bears that he deserves a big contract extension before his current deal runs out after the 2013 season.
That all needs to stop. Right now.
With new head coach Marc Trestman and his staff in place, as well as Emery entering his second year with the team, the excuses need to come to an end for Jay Cutler. It remains to be seen, however, how Cutler will fit into Trestman’s offense or simply how he will even get along personally with Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. I have faith that Cutler can learn a lot from Trestman and carry it out onto the field. I have faith that he can be successful, at least comparable to what he’s done in the past. But I do not have faith that he will give the Bears a true “hometown discount” when it comes to signing a new contract. I also do not have faith that the Bears are even considering what could happen if Cutler declines whatever contract offer the organization may make to him.
That’s why the Bears truly need a backup plan right now for Jay Cutler. Emery and Trestman need to work together to address the quarterback situation in general, and that includes Cutler. They need to ensure that Cutler fits into what Trestman is looking to do with the offense and if/when his payday comes, that the contract is reflective of what Cutler has accomplished — or not accomplished — in a Bears uniform. There needs to be more accountability overall at the position, and that includes the backups as well.
Emery and Trestman also need to work together in free agency and the upcoming draft to bring in a reliable veteran as well as a developmental player to ensure the team is secure at the position should Cutler suffer another injury. I realize the Bears have several other key areas that need to be addressed, but if Jay Cutler is truly the franchise quarterback, the organization needs to treat the position in general in the same way.
Unfortunately for the Bears, this year’s free agent market is shallow at the quarterback position, as is the upcoming draft. These two factors combined will truly test Emery as a talent evaluator and Trestman as the quarterback guru that he has been acknowledged as in the past.
Matt Moore is arguably the best option available via free agency, however he’ll likely warrant more money given the dire situation that several teams are in at quarterback, such as Jacksonville or the New York Jets. Outside of Moore, it’s a who’s who of journeymen and busts, such as former Bear Rex Grossman, former Steeler Byron Leftwich and former No. 1 overall pick David Carr.
As far as the draft goes, the Bears won’t want to spend an early pick on quarterback, but former Oklahoma Sooner Landry Jones could be available in the middle rounds of the draft. Also, former Heisman candidate Collin Klein is projected to be a late-round pick, if he gets picked at all. Jones is the more polished of the two, but Klein could be an interesting project for Trestman and his staff as a third stringer.
The Bears need more depth at linebacker. They desperately need a pass-catching tight end. And they certainly need more help on the offensive line.
Let’s just hope that this time around the organization doesn’t forget what forgetting about the quarterback did to them in the past.
What do you think, Bears fans? If you were Phil Emery, how would you handle the Cutler contract situation as well as the quarterback situation in general?