An Oct. 18 Sports article incorrectly said the Chicago Bears are 1-5 this season. The team's record is 1-4. (Published 10/21/04)
-- Even for a franchise that has known nothing but despair at quarterback since the glory days of Jim McMahon, and, indeed, mostly despair at quarterback for 40 years, Sunday's performance by fill-in Jonathan Quinn was one of the lowest points ever.
After passing for only 65 yards and throwing an interception on his final play, Quinn was booed not only off the field but all the way into the locker room by a frustrated home crowd that had seen good defense and ball-carrying wasted yet again.
Quinn, forced into action the last two games since the injury to starter Rex Grossman, was sacked on two of the three plays just before the interception, even though his offensive line had given him time to throw downfield against the Washington Redskins.
Asked immediately afterward if he was embarrassed by the way he played (10 for 22, 34 net passing yards and four sacks), Quinn said: "You should never feel embarrassed when you give it all you've got. It is frustrating for all of us, though."
Quinn said he wasn't thinking about keeping his job, adding: "I can't be concerned with that. I need to try to get better each and every week and try to help us win."
Quinn has taken every snap since Grossman suffered his season-ending knee injury against the Vikings three weeks ago while scoring a touchdown and is merely the latest to hear Bears fans' boos.
Chicago fans have lived through 24 starting quarterbacks since McMahon led the Bears to the Super Bowl -- including Peter Tom Willis, Rusty Lisch, Rick Mirer, Will Furrer, Steve Walsh, Steve Stenstrom and bonus-baby draft pick Cade McNown (3-12 as a starter).
Quinn seemed oblivious to how poorly he had played Sunday, at how many times he had missed open receivers or taken sacks when his line had played well. "I've got to complete some passes," was his biggest public self-criticism.
The Redskins didn't exactly get a big game from their own quarterback, Mark Brunell (8 for 22, 95 yards, one interception and one sack). But the Redskins defense was able to completely overwhelm, confuse and frustrate Quinn, a seven-year journeyman. Quinn came to Chicago with his offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Terry Shea, who was hired to run the offense for Bears rookie coach Lovie Smith. But Quinn's familiarity with a system that scored so many points in Kansas City hasn't helped so far.
While the Redskins improved to 2-4 after their 13-10 victory, the questions in the Bears' dressing room centered around how Quinn got to be the number two quarterback and how General Manager Jerry Angelo and Smith allowed the team to go into this season with no proven veteran backing up Grossman, in his second-year.
Asked if he'll demote Quinn this week and go with Craig Krenzel, the rookie from Ohio State, or number three quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who last played for the Dallas Cowboys and was about to go surfing when the Bears called him a couple of weeks ago, Smith said: "There were a lot of things we did not like about the game and quarterback position was one of them. Is that the type of performance we would like to give our fans? No, it isn't."
Speaking specifically of Quinn's performance, Smith said: "We all saw the game today. It was a bad performance. Technical things need to be worked out. Decision-making things need to be worked out."
The Bears, 1-5, failed to reach the Redskins 20, and didn't make it to midfield on their first eight possessions. The Bears' only touchdown came on a 70-yard tipped interception return by cornerback Jerry Azumah.
Hutchinson, who heard fans calling him to enter the game, said afterward: "My heart goes out to [Quinn] because it's a lot of pressure to be in that situation. But he's lasted seven years in this league. I know he can be a good quarterback."