Desperate Bears turn to George

Monday, November 29, 2004

CHICAGO -- Their quarterbacking so problematic since losing Rex Grossman to a season-ending knee injury two months ago, the Chicago Bears are going to give 36-year-old Jeff George a look.

George, who hasn't played since the 2001 season when he was cut after two games with the Washington Redskins, intends to sign with the Bears and practice today.

George has already been studying the Bears' voluminous playbook and told the Chicago Tribune he can master the system quickly.

"It's really all the same protections and pass routes and after running 10 different systems in 13 years, I really believe I can be ready to play in a couple of days," George told the newspaper.

In his last two games with Washington more than three years ago, George had a quarterback rating of 34.6, completing just 23-of-42 passes with three interceptions.

He was then sacked by then Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer.

As the league's No. 1 overall pick in 1990 out of Illinois, George flashed a strong arm, but is just 46-78 as a starter.

He also had some problems, most notably in 1996 when he was with the Falcons and argued on the sideline with coach June Jones. He was suspended and then cut.

In his next-to-last game with the Redskins after he'd committed four turnovers and been taken out of the game, he and Schottenheimer had an animated sideline discussion.

George was drafted by Indianapolis and played with the Colts from 1990-93. He was in Atlanta from 1994-96, then spent two seasons with Oakland and one with Minnesota before joining the Redskins in 2000, first as a backup. He was signed by Seattle as insurance midway through the 2002 season but didn't play.

Now the Bears.

"I'm just excited about whatever role they have for me. I don't care," said George, who is expected to sign a one-year deal worth a reported $760,000.

The Bears (4-7) are expected to turn to third-stringer Chad Hutchinson on Monday and give him the start on Dec. 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. Hutchinson is a former major league pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals who started nine games as a rookie with the Cowboys in 2002.

After Grossman was injured in the third game of the season against the Vikings, backup Jonathan Quinn struggled mightily and was eventually benched in favor of rookie quarterback Craig Krenzel.

Krenzel was the starter during the Bears' three-game winning streak, but his shaky play -- 13 turnovers in six games -- caught up with Chicago, which has now lost its last two.

Krenzel sprained his ankle in a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys and Quinn was ineffective again as a replacement.

Earlier this season, the Bears tried out Tim Couch but did not sign the former Browns and Packers' player, who was also a top pick in the draft.

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