Matthews named starting quarterback vs. Titans

For better or worse the quarterback question has been answered. However, the controversy will not stop until the Bears start winning. Head coach Dick Jauron named Shane Matthews as the Bears starting quarterback for the second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.

That was a change in plan for Jauron from the previous week when he said Cade McNown would get the start.

"Well, the change this week really it becomes that Shane is our guy right now,' Jauron said. "We always use that term that we've penciled a guy as our one; Shane is penciled in at that spot. I think he's earned it, he deserves it. As I've said we need to make that decision as soon as we could make it. And I feel comfortable with it right now. It doesn't mean that those three other guys, that one of them can't come up and take the job from him. He's not going to give it up. I think he's a very tough-minded guy he's very professional player. He knows how to prepare."

The decision to name Matthews as the number one quarterback could not have come from his performance against the Bengals, in which he went 2-4 totaling three yards.

"I didn't think he'd get that many," offensive coordinator John Shoop said of Matthews pass attempts. "I was hoping we'd just keep getting first downs running the ball and he wouldn't have to throw it at all. I pretty much know what we have in Shane, we wanted to run the ball."

Matthews wasn't worried about his performance either. "As far as to really show what you can do in the preseason cause you can't ever really get in a rhythm, but the coaches they you every day they're in the meetings with you and they know if you know it mentally," Matthews said. "That's a big part of playing the position of quarterback, you have to know what everybody's doing. If somebody lines up in the wrong place it's your job to get them in the right place and get us in a legal formation."

Thus, Matthews has had to show coaches, especially Shoop, in practices and meetings that he has grasped the offense quicker than the competition. Matthews and Shoop have relationship going back to 1997. When Shoop was the quarterbacks for the Carolina Panthers and Matthews was a backup. Both came to the Bears in 1999 and have enjoyed a good working relationship.

"Shoop takes care of all the little things, he doesn't let one thing slip by," Matthews said. "He's the most organized coach I've been around my entire football career. His whole thing is if you take care of the little things and keep us in third and short we're going to convert a lot of third downs and keep our defense of the field."

Shoop also has high praise for Matthews' organization. "Shane (Matthews) is the stereotypical coaches son, his dad was a high school coach." "He does all the little things that makes a coach sleep well at night, in terms of managing the game, the clock, the down and distance, staying ahead of schedule and keeping the defense off the field."

In essence Shoop and Jauron feel the offense is safest in the hands of Matthews not necessarily the most productive, but he will not lose the game for the team.

"If you look at some of these teams the past few years that have been successful, you know as long as you have consistent play offensively, keep your defense off the field and if you have to punt it punt it," Matthews said. If you have a good defense let them play defense, just don't turn the ball over and make the big mistake."

That looks like it will be the Bears battle cry this season. A poor man's version of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.

The defense could be solid, but the offense is still going to have to be much more productive than Baltimore's was last year. Even the champions went out and improved at a position that the team was weak in, signing Elvis Grbac to a free agent deal. However, the Bears stuck with what they had at quarterback and the fate of Jauron's job will be determined by that decision.

Most likely Matthews will not be the quarterback for the 16 game season. Whether he gets injured or struggles, at some point Jim Miller or McNown will get playing time.

"No, you wouldn't want to change every week," Jauron said. "You'd like to stay with a guy. We'll just see how it goes. I have a lot of confidence in him. Hopefully he'll take it and run."

If he doesn't and one of the other quarterbacks steps up Jauron will not hesitate to change from a struggling quarterback as he did last year with McNown.

"It could change anytime," Jauron said. "It's just like any other position on the team. Those guys can come and challenge. And if they out play him (Matthews) or have a chance to out play him then they'll take the job or if he falters they'll certainly get a chance."

Miller is the glitch in the equation. If he comes back fully healthy and performs well then he could make Jauron's choice a difficult one. Miller will likely see his first preseason action against the Chiefs. Miller said he has accepted the decision for now, but is trying not to look at it as final and thinks he still will get a shot at the job.

"I've been told when I come back full strength that I'll get every look and every opportunity, so that's what I'm focussing on," Miller said. "Obviously you accept the decision because it's a team decision and you go from there. Focus on your role, but at the same time you have to focus on yourself and what you're trying to accomplish and that's obviously my goal is to be the number one guy."

McNown, who had a productive game against the Bengals leading the Bears on two scoring drives, seemed surprised of Jauron's decision that Matthews is the team's number one quarterback.

"He told me he's penciled in to start this week, it's a long season and a lot can happen. It's not going to deter me from keeping to work hard. Its like I said, it's a long season, it's a long preseason," McNown said.

Matthews knows the offense has a lot of work ahead and is still trying to establish a power running game, which could free up passing lanes. Still, he is not a big play quarterback, but remains confident in his abilities.

"I'm not the kind of guy that people are going to say wow how he do this how did he do that," Matthews said. "If you're a consistent player in this league and make good quick decisions and just let the guys around you make all the plays, you know you can be successful."

Matthews has 6-7 record as a starter over the last two years. The six wins equal the combined total of Miller and McNown during the same period of time. However, the team will likely have to do better than that to save Dick Jauron's job.

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