McCown hopes for another chance in 2012

Journeyman quarterback Josh McCown believes he's earned a shot to be the backup next year. We also discuss Jerry Angelo's replacement, another new offense for Jay Cutler and more.

What now for quarterback Josh McCown, who helped the Bears snap a five-game losing streak with a serviceable performance in the 17-13 victory over the Vikings?

McCown was coaching high school football when the Bears called on him in late November after Jay Cutler's season-ending thumb injury.

"I don't know," McCown said. "My plan will be to go back with those kids and go to work. Those boys know that we're going to work this spring and get after it and get them ready to go. We'll see what happens. If God wants me to be on the team, I'll be on the team. If not, then I'll be happy to be back coaching and helping those young men."

McCown clearly outplayed Caleb Hanie, who was a disappointment as Cutler's backup, going 0-4 with nine interceptions and three touchdown passes while being sacked 19 times. McCown was 1-1 as a starter with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his starts and a fourth pick when he relieved Hanie against the Seahawks. Hanie finished with a 41.8 passer rating, while McCown was at 68.3.

"I definitely think he can hold his head up," coach Lovie Smith said of McCown. "He came here and helped our football team. He gave us a spark, energy, and he did not hurt his chances at all by what he has done during his brief time with us."

--There were rumors last month that Angelo would retire at the end of this season, but those were never confirmed, and Angelo downplayed the idea.

"I've been in the league a long time," he said. "I enjoy what I do very much, and I work with a great organization, great people. I still want to make a run at this. That would be a good question (coming off a Super Bowl). I'd like for that situation to happen. My goal right now is to win a championship. That's what I'm focused on."

Two years ago, Angelo presided over a front-office shakeup that cost pro personnel director Bobby DePaul and college scouting director Greg Gabriel their jobs. Angelo then brought in Tim Ruskell from the Seattle Seahawks as the Bears' director of player personnel.

Ruskell will head up the Bears' scouting operations until a new general manager is hired, and Phillips did not rule him out as a general manager candidate, although that would be highly unlikely.

--While he had plenty of high-profile misses, Jerry Angelo also brought the Bears some mid- and late-round steals, like third-rounder Lance Briggs (2003), fifth-rounder Johnny Knox (2009), and seventh-round offensive tackles Lance Louis (2009) and J'Marcus Webb (2010). Charles Tillman, Devin Hester and Matt Forte all came in the second round.

--Since coach Lovie Smith chose not to address the media Tuesday in the wake of offensive coordinator Mike Martz's resignation, it was left for team president and CEO Ted Phillips to explain.

"Lovie met with Mike," Phillips said. "They had some philosophical differences, and a parting of the ways. That's the way to put it."

Smith did release a 32-word statement through the Bears addressing the "parting of the way with Martz and quarterbacks coach Shane Day.

"After meeting with Mike (Tuesday) afternoon, we both felt it was best to move in different directions," it read. "I appreciate the job he and Shane did for us over the last two years."

When Martz was the Rams' head coach from 2000-05, he employed Smith as his defensive coordinator from 2001-03, when Smith left to become the Bears' head coach.

Martz's offense finished No. 30 last season in total yards, dead last in sacks allowed, No. 28 in passing yards, 27th in third-down efficiency and 21st in points. The Bears were better this year, but not by much, even though they did rush for more than 2,000 yards for only the second time since 1990. They were 24th in total yards, 26th in passing yards, 17th in points, 28th in sacks allowed and 27th in third-down efficiency.

Regardless of who directs the Bears' offense next season, it will be the third offensive coordinator for Jay Cutler in his fourth year with the team.

The most egregious philosophical difference was Martz's reluctance to run the ball more and refusal to take other actions to reduce the 105 quarterback sacks the Bears suffered the past two seasons.

As recently as Sunday's victory over the Vikings, Martz repeatedly called for slow-developing pass plays that required five- or seven-step drops by Josh McCown, who was sacked seven times. Not until Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen had racked up 3.5 sacks did Martz provide any extra help from tight ends for overmatched left tackle J'Marcus Webb.

Smith indicated Monday in his first postseason press conference that he was not happy with the amount of punishment Cutler and the other quarterbacks have taken in the past two years because of the sacks.

"Whenever your quarterback is getting hit, that's a concern," Smith said. "We have a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, who is as good as there is. Our quarterback has been hit too many times around here. That's one of the areas that we'll need to improve, but it can be done."

With Martz gone, maybe it already has been.


Defensive line: The pass rush was very good at times and almost imperceptible at others. Julius Peppers (10.5 sacks) was dominant at times and just another guy at others. Defensive tackle Henry Melton took a giant step in his development and had 7.0 sacks, but he too, must be more consistent.

Wide receiver: The Bears do not have a No.1 and, depending on how Johnny Knox returns from a frightening back injury, they may not have a No. 2.

Offensive line: Right tackle Lance Louis is better equipped to play inside. Left tackle J'Marcus Webb is not the guy you want protecting Jay Cutler's blind side.


--LB Brian Urlacher's knee injury looked gruesome, but he suffered "only" a sprain, although it will probably require at least a couple months of rehab.

--RB Matt Forte's sprained knee kept him out of the final four games, but he has come far enough in his rehab that he is considering playing in the Pro Bowl

--QB Jay Cutler is expected to be able to start throwing soon, in his rehab from the fractured wrist that he suffered on Nov. 20.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously we want to do better in the early parts of the draft." -- Ted Phillips on the day he announced the firing of general manager Jerry Angelo. Only two of Angelo's nine first-round picks are on the roster, offensive linemen Chris Williams (2008) and Gabe Carimi (2010). Both ended the season on injured reserve.

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