Chicago Bears: Did the Front Office Not Want Nathan Enderle to Start Week 17?

Brett LyonsContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 01: Nathan Enderle #10 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns during a preseason game at Soldier Field on September 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Maybe it wasn’t just head coach Lovie Smith who wanted Bears backup QB Josh McCown to start Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Maybe Mike Martz, who is no longer with the club, wanted McCown under center simply because his name is not “Caleb Hanie.”

And now in the aftermath of the firing of Bears GM Jerry Angelo, perhaps even the front office was in favor of No. 15 starting the regular-season finale.

Bears fans were crying for 2011 fifth-round draft pick Nathan Enderle to get the call against the Vikings as a season debut, just to see what the kid has. Worst case scenario, you lose a meaningless game and a rookie gains invaluable experience in a real game situation.

Now looking back, there is a possibility that front office personnel such as CEO George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips were also in favor of keeping the rookie on the bench.

It was made clear days after the season ended that general manager Jerry Angelo was to get the axe after 11 seasons with the team.

What if the entire organization was in favor of not playing Enderle in the event that he actually panned out? Would that have potentially saved his job?

One of the biggest critiques of Angelo’s reign as GM was that he failed to evaluate talent in the draft. Most of his high-round picks were fails and busts, and he rarely found a “gem” in the later rounds.

If Enderle was effective and had a shot to be the team’s backup going forward, that would have helped the case for keeping Angelo and made it that much harder to let him go.

By not letting Enderle see the field at all this season, Angelo could never lay claim to drafting the “backup of the future,” as outrageous a title as that may sound.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch, but hindsight is 20/20. Knowing what we know now, there’s certainly a possibility the team wanted to keep the stars aligned to release Angelo, and Enderle starting against the Vikings could have been the last-second save to keep him from losing his position.

Angelo rightfully deserves the blame for the lack of quarterback depth on this year’s ball club. When Jay Cutler went down Week 11 against the San Diego Chargers, the Bears were sitting pretty for a playoff berth at 7-3. Realistically, the team needed to go 3-3 or 2-4 down the stretch against the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings.

If only it were that easy.

Instead, the Bears closed out the season 1-5, bringing their once respectable record to an 8-8 mark, eliminating them from the playoffs in Week 16.

Who knows what Enderle can bring to the table for the Bears going forward? But one thing is for sure—nobody in that front office wanted to find out, just in the event it was positive.


Brett Lyons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials. 

Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.