Roller coaster ride

While it is difficult to find one face to represent the Bears struggles, R.W. McQuarters is definitely in the running.

Following one of the worst performances by a Bear since Cade McNown couldn't move the ball into Niners territory on Dec. 17 of 2000, a change was in order.

The cornerback had a horrible game against Seattle in which he directly contributed to 17 of the Seahawks 24 points. McQuarters was called for pass interference in the end zone to set up Shaun Alexander's one-yard TD run early in the second quarter and was beaten for a touchdown by former Bears receiver Bobby Engram--the first TD pass Engram has caught since 1999. To make matters worse, McQuarters muffed a punt in the third quarter that put the Bears inside their own 10. The ensuing punt set the Seahawks up in great field position and led to a field goal.

McQuarters has been moved from the starting lineup to the nickel back. Jerry Azumah, who made the same move after Week 4, will replace McQuarters and play along side Charles Tillman.

"In this business you don't get paid to play, you get paid to win," McQuarters said following the demotion. "Right now we're 1-5. They've made some changes, so hopefully it all works out for the best."

Still for how poorly McQuarters played against Seattle it's not just one-game that led to his setback. Last year knee and hamstring injuries forced him to miss seven games and he only came away with one interception. Although he started along side a rookie for three games, McQuarters was the cornerback being picked on by opponents.

"He's not played as well as he has," said defensive coordinator Greg Blache. "If you look he's not had the games he's had for us in the past for whatever reason he hasn't."

McQuarters will still return punts and since more teams use three receiver sets he'll still see the field a lot. But it's definitely an indictment of McQuarters to be demoted considering he signed a five-year, $21 million deal with a $6 million bonus after watching him produce a career-high 21 pass defenses and lead the secondary with 89 tackles in 2001.

For Azumah the move represents a second chance. Charles Tillman replaced him the in the starting lineup after Week 4. While he didn't light up the world in a reserve role the team has no other options than to turn back to Azumah, who hasn't had an interception since the playoff loss to the Eagles (Jan. 19, 2002.)

"As far as me working hard when I did lose my job, there was no problem with that. I was working hard day-in and day-out and I was preparing myself (like) I was a starter, so nothing's new," Azumah said. "It's just a matter of going out there and making plays, period."

Something the Bears defense has struggled to do all year.


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