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Bears should take shot on McNabb

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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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He’s not in shape. His time has passed. He has flopped at two jobs in a row. And on Thursday, Donovan McNabb was released by the Minnesota Vikings. A sad end to a career that never quite ...

Donovan McNabb


SHAME IN HIS GAME

Donovan McNabb's long, strange career has never lived up to its full potential. Reid Forgrave

Well, let’s hold off on that type of talk for a minute.

McNabb sounds like something the Chicago Bears should be drooling over. It’s funny, because Chicagoans wanted McNabb for years, throughout his prime. And now that he’s washed up, he might save his hometown team.

Or, he might flop again. Either way, it’s worth the risk.

McNabb would be a Hail Mary for the 7-4 Bears, who aren’t going anywhere now that Jay Cutler is out with a broken thumb. Cutler said Wednesday he might be done for the year. It’s Caleb Hanie’s team now, and he makes a fine clipboard holder for a sideline.

The sad thing is, I suspect that no one will claim McNabb off waivers.

You thought his career had fallen off a cliff these past few years?

Think about this for an end: McNabb asks for his release so that he can have another shot with another team.

And no other team wants him.

Ugh. In Chicago, they already were debating on sports-talk radio Thursday afternoon whether McNabb is washed up or the Bears should want him. No one seemed to understand that both things are true.

WHAT A TRIP

Take a look at the up-and-down career of Donovan McNabb.

McNabb is done. And the Bears need him.

For the past couple of years, people already were debating whether McNabb is a Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s lifetime-achievement kind of talk, the stuff you get into only when time is about up for an athlete.

McNabb made a career of losing the NFC Championship Game. His one Super Bowl, a loss, ended ugly. Players, including Terrell Owens, suggested he was so out of shape and nervous that, in crunchtime, he was throwing up, choking or coughing in the huddle.

McNabb has been the focus of criticism for years, and to be honest, I’ve always been a McNabb apologist. It took him a while to develop in Philadelphia, and then when it was time to reach the mountaintop, coach Andy Reid misused and overused him.

Eventually, Philadelphia gave up on him. He went to Washington with a big contract. But it didn’t work out with coach Mike Shanahan. McNabb apologists — yes, me again — blamed Shanahan, who once benched McNabb for a two-minute drill, suggesting he can’t think on his feet. It was an insult.

So Washington didn’t want him anymore. And this year, at 35, it didn’t work for McNabb at Minnesota.

In the end, the McNabb debate is never going to be resolved. I still think Reid misused him. Shanahan has an awfully high, genius reputation for a guy who hasn’t won anything without John Elway running the offense.

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Of course, it really doesn’t matter to the Bears where McNabb stands in history. It’s sickening to watch a great player, if that’s what he was, play too long. It’s awful to see great talents fade.

But even McNabb’s faded talents can help Chicago. The Bears are based entirely on defense and special teams, and can win without a great quarterback.

They just can’t win with a guy throwing three interceptions a game, as Hanie did at Oakland on Sunday. Hanie played well for a while in last season’s NFC Championship Game, after Cutler left with a sore knee. But that’s the only good experience he has.

The Bears had a shot at a Hail Mary to win Sunday, but Hanie didn’t even know how to spike the ball to stop the clock.

His backup now is Josh McCown, who hasn’t taken a snap since 2009.

Before Cutler got hurt two weeks ago, the Bears were serious contenders. McNabb gives them experience they don’t have, and a plan B if (when) Hanie continues to flop.

They just need someone who won’t throw interceptions, and will make an occasional play here and there. Just the threat of making a play would be enough to make defenses play honest against the Bears.

McNabb threw two interceptions in six games for the Vikings this year.

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He completed 60 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 82.9.

Cutler’s was 85.7.

That’s not to suggest that McNabb still has it. He doesn’t. But the Bears don’t need him to win games the way the Vikings did.

Just imagine: McNabb comes home to Chicago, manages to get the Bears into the playoffs and then rewrites the narrative to his own career.

Highly unlikely. But a Hail Mary isn’t about probability. For the Bears, washed up is a step up.

Tagged: Bears, Vikings, Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie

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