THE LOWDOWN ON McNOWN

Did the Dolphins get a steal when they traded for Cade McNown on Wednesday or did they just waste some time along with a couple of draft picks?

Based on his play in Chicago, the Dolphins clearly wasted their time. But the Dolphins think McNown very well could become a totally different quarterback in Miami.

"He's a very talented quarterback as far as athletic ability," said Rick Spielman, the Dolphins' vice president of player personnel, who was with the Bears when they made McNown the 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft. "There was a game vs. Minnesota where he rushed for over 100 yards; that's the Cade I remember."

Spielman actually compared McNown to Green Bay All-Pro Brett Favre at some point because of his playmaking ability.

It's obvious McNown has a long, long way to go to even come close to that level after his two years with the Bears.

The 6-1, 210-pound McNown started 15 games in his two years in Chicago and completed only 54.6 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His best game as a pro may have come as a rookie in 1999 when he passed for 301 yards and for touchdowns against the Lions as Soldier Field.

But for the most part, McNown had problems with the Bears' sophisticated passing attack.

He also reportedly had problems in the huddle and in the locker room because of a reputation for pointing fingers.

Dolphins guard Todd Perry, who played with McNown in Chicago, said that reputation was overblown.

"The change of scenery is probably going to do him a lot of good," Perry said. "I think he'll do well."

Part of the reason the Dolphins think McNown will succeed in Miami after failing in Chicago is that their offensive system is less complicated and better suited to McNown's talents, namely his ability to scramble and throw on the run.

But, as we stated before, that won't happen for a while.

Wannstedt said he was very happy right now with the play of starter Jay Fiedler and backup Ray Lucas. That means that McNown is destined to be on the inactive list virtually every week.

This is a trade that was made with the future in mind.

"As I've said a half-dozen times, this has no bearing on the starter or the backup position," Wannstedt said. "He's going to be competing for the third quarterback spot. I could not be happier with our quarterback play at this point.

"But anytime we have the possibility to better our football team for the future, we have an obligation to do that. This could be an opportunity."


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