With the release of the Bears' depth chart, we're starting to get a better idea about how roster looks from the coaching perspective and which player still has some work to do to move into the starting lineup. But with all the discussions on who makes the 53-man roster being bandied about, I wondered about the quarterback position. Is it necessary to keep a third quarterback when our top two quarterbacks are about as good a tandem in the league? Especially considering some of the end of the roster battles between young guys with potential? Lets take a look at some scenarios and see options are available, and whether or not you think the Bears should keep three quarterbacks.
With Jason Campbell as Cutler's backup, I am fully confident that he could avoid a Hanie-esque display on the field and keep the Bears in a playoff race if needed. As far as a third quarterback is concerned, there isn't necessarily a positive spin to put on that situation; if your third string QB is playing, you're screwed (or up big in a game).
The NFL changed the game day roster last year to eliminate the old "emergency quarterback" rule. The rule increases the game day roster from 45 to 46 and allows the third string, or emergency quarterback, to enter the game at any time without restriction. Prior to the change, if a third string QB entered the game prior to the fourth quarter, neither the starting or backup QB could reenter the game under any circumstances. Remember Hanie handing off twice at the end of the NFCC game's third quarter after the Cutler and Collins' injuries? At the time, that knocked both of them out of the game. Now? Either could reenter no problem.
So what we have for this season is a conundrum for me - do you keep three quarterbacks on the 53 man roster or do you keep two and keep another positional player? Keeping three quarterbacks is the standard - if anyone has the numbers on how many teams kept only two last year, please share - and prevents a catastrophic situation from arising if your starting quarterback goes out for a while due to injury. If you lose your QB, you'll still have two guys on the roster that you've been working with (gratuitous use of "you" means "the coaches"), that understand the offense, and that should be able to carry the torch without too many issues (albeit at a lower level of play). If the starting QB goes down and you only have one backup, the team is left scrambling to find someone off the street that has to learn the offense, get comfortable with their new teammates, etc. Not an ideal situation.
However, keeping two quarterbacks on the roster means that the coaches have an extra spot to keep an end of the roster type of player that they don't want to lose; these guys are generally young and raw, but could be of some use later on. Yes, you'd be leaving yourself open to catastrophe if you lose your starting QB, but you would get the chance to hold onto a young player with some potential without running the risk of him getting claimed by another team.
Personally, I would be okay with the Bears keeping McCown until final cuts (Blanchard could make the practice squad but has almost no chance at the 53-man roster), then cutting him in hopes that no one picks him up right away. The Bears then have an extra roster spot to use to keep Brittan Golden, or James Brown, or Greg McCoy. And the Bears can tell McCown that if something opens up, he's the first one they'll call, since he went through preseason learning the offense and could be ready to go on short notice.