But it's a case of what could have been for the Bears. "> But it's a case of what could have been for the Bears. ">

"The Snake" is ready to bite

Bears fans didn't come up with the nickname. Jake "The Snake" Plummer got that in Arizona -- his first home -- before bringing it with him to Denver. <P> But it's a case of what could have been for the Bears.

Jake Plummer, not Kordell Stewart, was the quarterback the Bears brass targeted this past offseason. Plummer was also the guy the Broncos wanted and as they say, the rest is history.

Plummer has battled injuries, but when he's been on the field, Denver has been a different team. With Stewart on the field for the Bears, losing was the norm until Chris Chandler took over. And well, that hasn't gotten much better either.

"Obviously it was real serious, because my two choices were Denver and Chicago," Plummer said via teleconference Wednesday. "I made both trips and made sure I saw both parts and was very intrigued by the situation there. The coaches, the personnel, the players -- everybody is great people up there and when it came down to a decision, I made the decision to come here (to Denver)."

Plummer, who missed four weeks with a broken left foot, has been the answer to the Broncos' troubles. He replaced Brian Griese as the team's QB this season and the team is 5-1 when he starts.

Plummer had some inconsistent years on some really bad teams in Arizona, but was still the most coveted free agent QB this past offseason. Plummer was the Bears' top choice, despite the fact that Stewart was 46-29 as a starter in Pittsburgh.

Now Stewart -- and his two-year, $4.75 contract -- are on the bench, while Plummer is flying high in Mile High.

"I've said it many times -- coming here to work with (coach) Mike Shanahan and (offensive coordinator) Gary Kubiak -- two of the brightest offensive minds in the game -- they wanted me bad and that's what the deciding factor was for me, to come here and work with them."

Shanahan, meanwhile, never had a thought of going after Stewart. He said Wednesday the team was going after Plummer or the Rams' Kurt Warner. And if they didn't get one of them, the Broncos were sticking with Steve Beuerlein and Jarious Jackson.

Plummer has passed for 1,156 yards and 11 touchdowns with only four interceptions this season. Stewart hasn't started since Oct. 12 against New Orleans, while Chandler and Stewart have each made five starts.

Plummer returned to the lineup last week and didn't seem to show any rust. He passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-8 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

"With Jake in the lineup, they have a mobile quarterback and a quarterback that is accurate," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "He's throwing the ball accurately and with the mobility -- it puts a lot of stress on you. You have to account for him; you definitely have to pay attention to his fakes when he comes out of there.

"With this guy, you definitely have to play the game honestly all the time."

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