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NFL Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears Will Try Yet Another ‘Franchise QB’ in 2013

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who follows or even watches the Chicago Bears knows that the team’s biggest weakness since winning Super Bowl XX has been the one place where championship caliber teams can’t be weak – the quarterback position.

Ever since the sunglass-sporting Jim McMahon hung up his cleats and headband in the Windy City, the Bears have struggled to find the right guy to be that quarterback and team leader…13 different ones since 1988 to be exact. In 2009 when Chicago acquired Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos it seemed that they might have finally found their man.

It seemed…

But over the past four seasons it’s become increasingly apparent that between Cutler’s propensity for injury and/or failing to deliver at crucial times, that he probably isn’t the pigskin-throwing savior that the good people of Chicago hoped he was. He’ll most likely just go down as failed “franchise quarterback” number 14.

This begs two questions:

Where will Jay Cutler play in 2013?

Who will be the next guy to stand under center for the Chicago Bears?

Obviously with the season not yet over, and with lots of movements and decisions to be made, there’s no real hard evidence or information to formulate an accurate hypothesis in either case. But there is gut instinct.

And my gut instinct tells me that Jay Cutler will don the green & white of the New York Jets–a team who is desperate to find a QB who knows how to actually pass a football–next season, and will be starting in front of Mark Sanchez, who the Jets will find themselves stuck with due to poor financial decisions and contract negotiations.

My gut also tells me that the Chicago Bears will once again ignore the NFL draft in looking for a new signal caller, and will play the free agent market. The two starting QBs who are most likely candidates to quite possibly be free agents or trade bait in 2013? Alex Smith and Michael Vick.

Of the two, Smith is obviously the better fit. He’s a quarterback that knows how to work within a defined system, and who succeeds in a ball-control offense coupled with a stifling defense. The only problem there is the Bears defense is aging, and is losing its innate ability to stifle an opponent.

As easily as Alex Smith could plug into the Bears current system, Michael Vick really wouldn’t work well for Chicago unless head coach Lovie Smith is gone (which is a distinct possibility) and a new head coach with a completely different offensive philosophy comes in. If a coach who leans toward a spread offense and pass-heavy attack comes in, then Vick could possibly be a solution.

The Bears would do well to buck their own trend and learn from past mistakes. As much as fans might hate to hear the term “rebuilding”, this might be the best opportunity for the Bears to do just that…rebuild. They can find a young quarterback in the draft who they can then build an offense around, and bring in a new head coach that will shake things up a bit and bring some new looks to Chicago’s tired offense.

Either way, a new franchise quarterback is most likely on the way to Chicago next season, and Jay Cutler will have one last opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to prove that he really can lead a team to and through the playoffs.

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL and MLB Network Manager, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook