Bear Report Rant

A popular notion is the Bears decided to make Chad Hutchinson their backup quarterback because they were either 1) being cheap; or 2) wanted to protect Rex Grossman from having job competition so he could develop as their starter. Neither is exactly right.

The real reason is something they talked about back after drafting Kyle Orton, and it's a tenet of general manager Jerry Angelo's that is about to be put to severe test in the wake of Grossman's broken ankle.

Money was an issue, but it wasn't that they were being cheap. It involved how they spent their money. They decided their available free agent money was better spent on a $30 million deal for Muhsin Muhammad and a $22 million deal for tackle Fred Miller.

The Muhammad deal gave them a legitimate go-to receiver when last year they were counting on undependable David Terrell. The Miller deal, in a sense, gave them a left tackle because it allowed them to move John Tait to the left side to solidify the line at its most important position.

With that much money spent on two positions, they wouldn't have had a lot left to devote to any of the better free agent quarterbacks who could have been brought in to battle with Rex Grossman, had they really wanted such a battle.

The idea that Grossman should be protected from job competition is also oversimplified. They told free agent quarterbacks like Kurt Warner, Jay Fiedler and Brad Johnson that they would have to come in as third-string quarterbacks and battle both Chad Hutchinson and Grossman.

At least this was what they said they were going to tell these players just before free agency started.

Those are both minor reasons the Bears now potentially face a season with Hutchinson at starting quarterback following Grossman's broken ankle.

The chief reason why they stuck with Hutchinson is one Angelo revealed just after the draft.

"When you look around and you look back at the history of this league, your best backup quarterbacks come from within,'' Angelo said. "The ones you drafted and developed. When you have to go out and sign a veteran very few teams, if any, particularly in the last three years, have won with veteran quarterbacks. And you do the study as I have and you'll see that stands pretty loud and clear.

"So, we want to build from within. You look Tennessee with Billy Volek. I looked at Green Bay when they had (Matt) Hasselbeck. Philadelphia with (A.J.) Feeley. All these teams when these quarterbacks had to go in they kept the offense going and up and running and that tells me something.''

Angelo said it was true even back in the 49ers' hey day with Bill Walsh coaching, or with Washington with Joe Gibbs coaching.

"So doing that, I felt that we need to get young, athletic, quality quarterbacks,'' Angelo said. "We like Chad Hutchinson because he's still a young quarterback. That's why we did what we did with (Craig) Krenzel last year. That's why did what we did with (Kyle) Orton. So we feel good about the process and how we're addressing it and we like Kyle Orton very much.''

So the Bears have exactly what they wanted and what Angelo sought -- young, unproven backup quarterbacks who are well versed in the offensive system.

"We've done our homework,'' Angelo said. "I'd like to tell you I've got a great solution, but it doesn't work that way.

"We did the best we could do under the circumstances and we feel comfortable with Chad Hutchinson. Do I hope we have to get to our backup quarterback again? No. We're one of the few teams that have. Last year we had the only quarterback outside of Rich Gannon that went on IR. We had that kind of luck; so be it. We dealt with it and unfortunately it didn't go well.''

Already it hasn't gone well again. So if it goes from bad to worse with Hutchinson -- like it did when Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Hutchinson quarterbacked in Grossman's absence last season -- it's obvious where all the blame should go.

It goes to the guy who did his homework and wanted "home-grown'' backup quarterback talent, who wanted any free agent quarterback signee to start as a third-stringer and who decided it's better to sign a lineman and receiver than an experienced backup at the sport's most important position.

Angelo is your man.

He's got a lot on the line with every snap Hutchinson takes this season -- chiefly, his reputation and possibly even his job.

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