Fox exploring 'all avenues' to find Bears' starting QB

Ryan Wood
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INDIANAPOLIS – Two seasons ago, Josh McCown led the Chicago Bears to a victory inside Lambeau Field.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Julius Peppers feels their domination of the Chicago Bears was a more accurate reflection of what the defense can be.

Yes, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was knocked from the same game with a broken collarbone. His first-quarter departure played the biggest role in Green Bay's lone home loss to the Bears since 2007.

For McCown, though, it was one of a series of 2013 relief appearances that landed him a starting job. McCown went 3-2 in five starts with Chicago. He threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns during the Bears' 27-20 win at Lambeau.

But things didn't go well for McCown last fall, when he cratered to the bottom of the league along with the rest of the 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With Chicago searching for an answer – any answer – at quarterback under new coach John Fox, it may turn back the clock. After the Buccaneers released him last week, McCown met with the Bears on Wednesday morning at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

"I think there's obviously interest," Fox said, "or we probably wouldn't have met with him. He's a guy who's had opportunities as a starter in this league. He's served as a backup. He's the right kind of guy – I know, from at least my perspective – that you want on your football team. So we'll see where it goes.

"He's got relationships with a lot of people in this league who have a high opinion of him."

Jay Cutler remains the Bears' starting quarterback, even after a disappointing 2014 season. Fox didn't close the door on a future with Cutler in Chicago, but he certainly didn't commit long term either.

A month into his tenure, Fox said he hasn't had time to meet all of his players, much less evaluate the entire roster. That process will continue through the offseason, but Fox said he's already started building a relationship with Cutler.

It'll take some time for Fox to be as familiar with Cutler as he is with McCown, who served two seasons as backup quarterback when Fox coached in Carolina. Right now, Fox said, nothing is more important than getting to know Cutler so he can make an accurate evaluation.

"Everybody's got perceptions," Fox said, "but I think getting to know the guy. This is a relationship business, and it takes time. I don't want to stand up here and give you a final evaluation when we're maybe a fourth through the test.

"I don't think there's any question that there's ability and talent there, but there's a lot more that goes into it. We're evaluating that as we speak."

Chicago's quarterback position likely will be an ongoing topic this offseason. That's the way it goes in today's NFL. When there's underwhelming production at the most important position on the field, all options are open.

Sharing a division with Rodgers, finding the right quarterback is even more important for Chicago.

"We're going to look at all avenues," Fox said. "Whether it's free agency, whether it's evaluating and aligning our roster correctly, obviously the draft. That's where you get young players that you can build in your system to be core guys.

"All those avenues are going to be things that you look at to get better. We're in that process now."

-- and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood.

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