Krenzel Makes a Case for Starting

TAMPA _ Craig Krenzel on Sunday gave Bears coaches something to ponder at quarterback in his NFL debut Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Craig Krenzel completed 9-of-19 for 69 yards during the second half in a 19-7 loss. As a result, Krenzel could find himself taking Jonathan Quinn's starting spot at Soldier Field Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

"We will evaluate that next week," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "In my head, I wanted to let Jonathan start and get him some reps unless things were just really going well in the game.

"I wanted to see what Craig could do. We let both guys play and we will evaluate it from there."

Quinn had completed 5-of-9 passes for 47 yards but never led the offense on a drive longer than the 35 yards the Bears drove their second possession, one which ended at midfield. He had two more three-and-outs, increasing his total three-and-outs four three games to 15 in 28 possessions.

"I think I'm the starter, but I don't know," Quinn said. "As of right now, maybe Craig."

Krenzel engineered two drives of 31 yards and another of 46, and led the Bears to their first offensive touchdown since seven quarters earlier in the final two minutes of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We didn't get the win, so you can't be pleased with anyone's performance," Smith said. "I think at times he (Krenzel) did some good things and, at times, he didn't. That's what you normally get when you play a guy for the first time."

The poor play by Krenzel included something Quinn did not do, and something he has done only once in his three-plus games of action. He threw an interception. And the pick by Ronde Barber off a pass that deflected off fullback Bryan Johnson's hand decided the game.

The Bucs got it at the Bears' 11-yard line after the pick, then scored the clinching touchdown.

"I tried to get it to Bryan Johnson and threw it a little high," Krenzel said. "You can't turn the ball over against good football teams."

Nevertheless, Krenzel felt well prepared for his debut.

"I did, I felt comfortable," he said. "I felt that I had a grasp of the offense. I was very comfortable with reads and progressions and I've been going out there and just trying to get the job done.

"Even on the interception, it was a blitz and I was going to throw hot (to the hot receiver). I just threw the ball a little bit too high to Bryan Johnson. I've got to get the ball down and it's a completion of 5 or 6 yards instead of a Bucs ball in our red zone."

Quinn expected a benching when all he could do was hand the ball over four times to Brad Maynard for a punt.

"I knew it was coming,' he said. "Coach Smith said if we stalled out, then there was a good chance that they would start Craig in the second half. And you've got to admire him for being a man of his word.

"He said he was going to do something and he did."

Quinn remained cordial, understanding and almost friendly about the entire situation.

"I'm all for the Bears winning," he said.

Quinn was victimized by repeated mistakes from the offensive line and his receivers. David Terrell's offensive interference penalty wiped out a 77-yard touchdown on the game's first play.

"I'm the quarterback," he said. "As the leader of the team, it kind of all falls on you. We did stall out and I was the one leading it in those situations, and so in those I take some of that blame."

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