Bears need to reconsider acquiring McNabb

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
6:28
PM ET
Donovan McNabbAP Photo/Andy KingThe Bears should reconsider their decision about not trying to acquire Donovan McNabb.
CHICAGO -- Caleb Hanie lowered his voice and answered with a soft "no," when asked whether it's time the Bears revisited the idea of bringing in former Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The truth is Chicago's situation screams for it to at least explore the option after Hanie -- filling in for the injured Jay Cutler -- put together yet another three-interception dud in a 10-7 loss Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs that further deteriorated the club's seemingly fading playoff prospects.

"Right now, we're just taking this loss in," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I'm not going to come in here and tell you we're going to start making changes. I think you know me better than that. We're going to evaluate our situation and see where we need to go from here."

With very few options available on the street and Josh McCown -- signed last week -- as Hanie's primary backup, the club might be reconsidering its decision last week to forego putting in a waiver claim for McNabb, who was released by the Minnesota Vikings.

McNabb was owed approximately $1.6 million on his contract for the remainder of the season, but the Bears could land him at a reduced rate now that he's a free agent. On the team's inactive list for Sunday's game, McCown said he won't "speculate on those things," regarding the team possibly nabbing McNabb.

But "obviously, you expect them to evaluate everything all the time," McCown said. "As a worker in the organization, you just kind of trust their leadership and go with it."

Despite Bears general manager Jerry Angelo telling the team's official website last week that McCown would be the No. 2 quarterback for the matchup with the Chiefs, he was inactive, leaving rookie Nate Enderle as the only signal caller on the active game day roster other than Hanie.

Surely McNabb's background in the West Coast offense isn't appealing to the Bears, nor is his diminishing downfield arm strength or lack of familiarity with the offense. But the team can't deny McNabb's pedigree as a winner or his experience in major games.

McNabb played six games with the Vikings and passed for more touchdowns (4) and fewer interceptions (2) than Hanie (six interceptions) over his last two starts.

"Let's not attack one guy," Smith said in defending Hanie. "Don't blame one guy for this loss. We all have a big say in what happened today."

The front office especially has a voice in what transpires over these last four weeks which feature three road contests, including road games at Green Bay and Minnesota to close the season.

That's not to say McNabb is the answer for the Bears, because realistically he's not.

But the club should at least have the option to bring in an experienced quarterback such as McNabb to potentially provide a spark when Hanie struggles.

"As a quarterback, you hate people that [are] kind of Monday morning quarterbacks," McCown explained. "There's no way I'm gonna sit here and say, ‘Oh yeah, I could have easily done [better than Hanie].' I'd never do that. Caleb did some good things, and that was close to being a different ballgame for him."

Perhaps, but it's difficult to overlook the team's 0-of-11 performance on third-down conversions, Hanie's three turnovers, his 23.8 passer rating, or the fact he was either sacked or intercepted on four of his last seven throws.

Hanie's primary backup on Sunday was a rookie, and the expected No. 2 for next week's game at Denver hasn't played in the NFL since 2009.

So McNabb shouldn't be viewed as a worse backup option than Enderle or McCown.

But it's definitely worth pondering whether he could possibly provide a spark -- maybe even an upgrade over the current starter -- if needed in a pinch.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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