Cutler option not feasible, but veteran backup needed

March 3rd, 2009 - 3:18 pm

As of the time of this post, the lead story on the sports page of ChicagoTribune.com was a column written by David Haugh preaching that the Bears need to pursue Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.

Ironically, the story immediately below that was a piece by Dan Pompei saying that acquiring Cutler was not a reality.

Talk about one colleague contradicting another.

Cutler will not be coming to the Bears no matter what Haugh or any other Bears fan thinks or hopes. And I couldn’t agree more with Pompei that it’s a pipe dream, so Bears fans should rid themselves of the notion.

However, Pompei’s piece, despite the headline, was less about Cutler and more about the need to bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Kyle Orton. I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. In fact, on my off-season wish list, it is one of my top priorities.

Understand that the Bears are not going to splurge on a big-named signal caller in free agency, nor will they trade away valuable assets from other positions to try to upgrade at quarterback. But, as Pompei inferred, simply creating competition can help bring out the best in a player.

Look at last year’s season for proof. Orton had a solid first half of the season, in my opinion, because he was pushed by Rex Grossman for the job in training camp. Many speculate that the competition was never legitimate and that the Bears were ready to hand the job to Orton no matter what transpired in training camp. But Orton didn’t know that. He was competing hard every day trying to win the job and prove he was a starter.

The same thing needs to happen at this year’s training camp. Orton has not proven enough in his short time as a starting quarterback to not have to fight for a job. If and when it is ever ascertained that Orton is a legitimate, top-of-the-league starting quarterback, he probably won’t have to worry about looking over his shoulder.

Until that happens — and if it ever does — the Bears will continue to need a backup quarterback who is ready to start at a moment’s notice and will breathe down Orton’s once hairy neck for playing time.