Spotlight Shine: Ranking the QBs

Each week during the offseason, Tyson Qualls plans to analyze one position for the Chicago Bears to see how they measure up with the other 31 teams in the NFL. Where do Jay Cutler and the QBs rank?

The Monsters of the Midway paid a steep price to bring Jay Cutler from Denver to Chicago to finally solve their problems under center, and while there is no question he's the most talented passer most Bears fans have ever seen, he still has his fair share of flaws. Blessed with a rocket for a right arm, nimble feet in the pocket and a high football IQ, Cutler is capable of putting the weight of an entire offense on his shoulders and single-handedly delivering a victory. However, as we saw way too often in 2009, he is prone to turnovers and can give a game away no matter how well the defense and special teams may be playing – five interceptions in a Week 10 loss at San Francisco was the most glaring example.

Backing up Cutler, Caleb Hanie has gone from undrafted free agent to unchallenged No. 2 in two short years, and third stringer Brett Basanez deserves a pat on the back for his work in the film room and being Cutler's eyes from the sideline on game day.

The arm strength of Cutler is well known throughout the league. He was drafted by the Broncos because of his resemblance to a strong-armed star named John Elway. Cutler is light on his feet and able to make passes that many quarterbacks shy away from. His ability to evade the pass rush and create extra time adds an important aspect to the offense. Cutler finished the 2009 season with 173 total rushing yards. The young signal caller possesses the necessary tools to lead an NFL franchise. Now it is just a matter of acquiring the intangibles.

Hanie has seen limited action during the regular season. He finished last year with three completions on seven attempts for 11 yards with one interception. At Colorado State, Hanie displayed decent skills but not overwhelmingly impressive numbers.

Basanez has thrown just 11 passes in his NFL career, all coming in one game with the Panthers back in 2006. His effectiveness on the highest level has yet to be proven. He did enjoy a successful college career at Northwestern. Before graduating, Basanez threw for 10,580 yards. He also fell just four yards short of becoming the first player in Division-I history to pass for at least 10,000 yards and rush for over 1,000.

QB Jay Cutler
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

Decision making and experience are the two glaring flaws of the Chicago QB trio. Cutler threw nearly as many INTs as TDs last season, with a league-leading 26. He threw six more interceptions than the dubious second-place finisher, rookie Jets passer Mark Sanchez. Cutler also tossed at least three interceptions in four of the team's 16 games.

The lack of experience behind Cutler is also an issue for the Bears. Hanie and Basanez have combined to complete just nine passes with two interceptions and zero touchdowns during their careers.

Sometimes with lack of experience comes the opportunity for potential. The Bears have a young and athletic trio with a high ceiling. Cutler is widely considered to have one of the best arms in the NFL and, at 26, still has time to reach his peak. Hanie has adequate measurables for a pro quarterback, and he has shown some play-making ability during the preseason. Basanez was an elite college player who, with the right coaching, could become a consistent, if not spectacular, starter.

Final Word
The Bears traded for Cutler with the hope of solving their problems at the quarterback position. His first season in the Windy City had its fair share of ups and downs. Cutler struggled to find his stride and frustrated fans with his frequent interceptions. While he is certainly a viable option at the helm, it would be smart to invest in a reliable veteran to provide stability if he continues his digression. Each season in the league, Cutler has increased his INTs by at least four. If he continues on that pace, Bears fans will be in for 30 or more in 2010.

Rank: 16th

The Bears currently have the No. 16 quarterback situation in the NFL, one spot ahead of Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks but one spot behind David Garrard and the Jaguars. Of the NFC North rivals, the Packers are No. 5, the Vikings are No. 9 and the Lions are No. 26. With Peyton Manning, the Colts are currently No. 1 overall.

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