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updated: 12/24/2013 5:48 PM

Yes, there are ways to find an NFL quarterback

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  • Following Sunday's 54-11 Philadelphia victory, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, right, meets with Nick Foles, his Eagles counterpart. Foles has turned out to be quite a find for the Eagles as a third-round draft pick in 2012.

      Following Sunday's 54-11 Philadelphia victory, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, right, meets with Nick Foles, his Eagles counterpart. Foles has turned out to be quite a find for the Eagles as a third-round draft pick in 2012.

 
 

Today of all days seems appropriate to make this point: The Bears shouldn't need a Christmas miracle to wind up with a franchise quarterback.

Oh, OK, so some teams do just hope and pray for one and wake up to find one under their tree.

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Most teams do it the conventional way, however. They draft and develop someone at the position, or scout and sign him, or evaluate and trade for him.

It does happen.

Maybe you heard that a lot of people believe Josh McCown should be starting at quarterback for the Bears while head coach Marc Trestman continues to believe in Jay Cutler.

That's the short-term issue as the Bears prepare to play the Packers for the NFC North title Sunday in Soldier Field. The long-term issue is whether the Bears should re-sign Cutler after the season and confirm him as their franchise quarterback.

One of the myths in the equation is that the Bears have to keep Cutler because they have no options to replace him with someone better. McCown isn't the future at 34 years of age; other teams don't trade franchise quarterbacks or allow them to become free agents; nobody in next spring's collegiate draft is a sure thing at the position.

So it's Cutler or bust, right?

No, not really.

Chicagoans tend to believe it's impossible to acquire an elite quarterback because the Bears have been in labor for six decades trying to deliver one. These fans might be surprised to learn that during the same period many other NFL teams have been able to find elite quarterbacks.

Bears general manager Phil Emery needed only to look across the field in Philadelphia the other night to see one with that sort of potential.

Nick Foles completed 21 of 25 passes to set the Eagles' single-game percentage record. His quarterback rating was 131.7. He threw for 2 touchdowns, giving him 25 for the year against 2 interceptions.

Foles wasn't exactly unknown in 2012 when Philly selected him in the draft's third round, 88th overall. However, he wasn't exactly Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, who went 1-2 in the same draft.

Andy Reid was the Eagles' head coach at the time. His expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, especially with quarterbacks, and he must have seen something in Foles before deciding the youngster out of Arizona was worth a whirl.

So, yes, it happens.

All it takes to find a quality quarterback is someone in an NFL organization with a knack of evaluating the position.

Reid, now coaching at Kansas City, found Foles, and that appears to have a chance to work out great for Philly. Jim Harbaugh, a former longtime NFL quarterback, found Colin Kaepernick in the second round for the 49ers. The QB-savvy Packers landed Aaron Rodgers with a 24th overall draft pick. The Seahawks found Russell Wilson in the third round, 13 spots ahead of Foles.

Seriously, Bears fans, it happens.

Peyton Manning was a No. 1 overall pick, but the Patriots didn't draft Tom Brady until No. 199 overall. The Saints signed Drew Brees as a free agent even though he was coming off shoulder surgery.

Honestly, it really does happen even if it hasn't around here for too long.

Now the Bears have a chance because they finally have a head coach in Marc Trestman who has spent his entire career mentoring quarterbacks.

The Bears should retain Cutler only if Trestman is convinced he's the right quarterback for the long term, not just this weekend, to take them to the Super Bowl.

They shouldn't retain Cutler if the only reason is that they think there aren't other quarterbacks out there with the potential to do so.

Often there are, and it shouldn't take a miracle to find one.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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