By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears have an “interesting” history with quarterbacks. To put it honestly, they haven’t had much success with quarterbacks over the history of the franchise.
There have been a couple of players that the Bears can say were good, if not great, quarterbacks in their history. Sid Luckman, who played with the Bears from 1939 to 1950 helped the Bears win four championships. He was easily their best quarterback ever because he helped them earn championships.
George Blanda also made a stop in Chicago during his lengthy career in football. He was with the Bears in 1949 and then from 1950 to 1958. Blanda was pretty much only a kicker when he was with the Bears but was listed as a quarterback. He needs to be mentioned because some people think that he played a lot at quarterback in Chicago.
We will fast forward to more recent times. Well, more recent times if you want to say that three decades ago was more recent. Let’s go back to 1985, just over thirty years ago. The Bears were flying high with their stellar defense and a quarterback, Jim McMahon, who did enough to win. The Bears drafted McMahon to be the “savior” of the offense and be a player that could help take them further than they had been before. He did a decent job but unfortunately suffered several injuries that kept him from making a bigger impact for the Bears.
After McMahon had left, the Bears went through (and are still going through) a quarterback “hell.” No single signal caller has helped earn a Super Bowl victory since 1985. Sure, Rex Grossman took them to a Super Bowl in 2006, but they lost.
Some of the guys that they have had play since McMahon will bring back good and bad memories. I will always remember three of my favorites during the time between McMahon and Cutler. Those three were David Krieg, Jim Miller, and Erik Kramer. They were decent quarterbacks that kept the Bears relevant but didn’t win any Super Bowls. They just bring back some pleasant memories.
Then you had the guys that dragged the team down. Possibly the Bears biggest bust, at quarterback, of all time, was Cade McNown. He was with the team for just two years after being drafted as a first round pick (12th overall). He was jettisoned after two miserable seasons. His attitude conflicted with his teammates and management so much they didn’t want him around.
What a mistake he was. But you should learn from your mistakes, right?
Some of the other players who were put the fire and failed include such memorable guys as Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchison, and Kordell Stewart. There were many players that didn’t pan out for the Bears. They tried and tried but kept on stumbling.
We mentioned Grossman. He had a rough start to his career as he suffered injuries that kept him on the sidelines. This meant that another investment at quarterback was in limbo. I, personally, remember how disgruntled I was, hearing he would be out for an extended period. I imagine a lot of fans felt the same way I did.
In his absence, his backup, Kyle Orton, became one of the best game managing quarterbacks in recent Bears history. He was solid, not spectacular but solid, and helped keep the Bears relevant while Grossman healed.
The 16-plus games leading up to the Bears second Super Bowl were brutal for the offense. Grossman was finally healthy, but he played like he was injured. Yes, the Bears managed to win, but they won thanks to their defense and special teams. When it was time to finally “put up,” in the Super Bowl, Grossman could not get them over the top, and the Bears lost.
Rex Grossman’s time in Chicago came to an end soon after their Super Bowl appearance. After years of struggle, the Bears decided to finally do something about their unstable quarterback position. In 2009, former general manager Jerry Angelo decided to mortgage the Bear’s future on a disgruntled young star named Jay Cutler. Cutler had done just enough to raise Angelo’s eyebrows and make him send some draft picks, along with Orton, to Denver to get him
I admit, when I first heard that Cutler was coming to Chicago, I thought that the Bears had finally found their quarterback of the future. People were excited and I was excited. I had read all about him and thought he could be the savior at the position the Bears needed. I felt that the Bears had finally found the answer at quarterback. Years of struggle had finally come to an end, hadn’t it? I could see a Super Bowl win ahead and was excited for the future of the Chicago Bears.
While Cutler had a lot of talent, he suffered from a couple of different things. One was not his fault, and one was clearly his problem. What he couldn’t control was his supporting cast. He did not have a great supporting cast around him for most of his career. The lack of solid talent around him caused him problems and his first few seasons in Chicago were less than stellar.
But Cutler was his own worst enemy. His attitude and struggles with his decision making and mechanics were almost just as bad as not having a supporting cast around him.
If you look at the numbers, Jay Cutler was, statistically, their best quarterback. But he never got them to a Super Bowl. He won one playoff game in his entire career in Chicago. One in eight seasons.
Ultimately, the era of Cutler in Chicago was a failure.
The Bears have chosen to turn the page and move on from Cutler. Now they have career backup Mike Glennon, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in house and ready to start. They have signed Mark Sanchez and have Connor Shaw to help give Glennon some competition.
On paper, the Bears quarterbacks of today look like the Bear’s quarterbacks of the past (since McMahon). They look mediocre and uninspiring.
But you never know what
It’s time for Chicago to open a new chapter in their long history of quarterbacks. It’s time to draft someone that can take this team to the next level. The opportunity is here they just have to take hold of it.
So will the Bears be able to find a quarterback in this draft? They can, but if they can’t get a quality player that they can develop into a future starter, then they need to pass and get a guy next year. Chicago cannot afford to make another mistake as they have before. They must be perfect this time, or the quarterback position could be set back for years.
Let’s hope they make the right decision for the future in this draft.
I am very optimistic that the Bears will correct the quarterback situation this year. I love the Bears and want them to do well but want this to be the year they finally start to stabilize the position for good. This has to be the year to finally right the ship at the quarterback spot.
Just for fun, I thought that I would list all of the quarterbacks who have started, by year, since Jim McMahon left Chicago. Anyone remember the picture of the storefront in Cleveland that shows all of the quarterbacks that the Browns have had over the last few years. Well, the Bears have had quite a few since McMahon departed. So let’s go back to 1989 and walk down the different starting quarterbacks the Bears have had since then.
1989 and 1990: Mike Tomczak and Jim Harbaugh
1991: Jim Harbaugh
1992 Jim Harbaugh, Will Furrer and Peter Tom Willis
1993: Jim Harbaugh and Peter Tom Willis
1994: Erik Kramer and Steve Walsh
1995: Erik Kramer
1996: Dave Krieg and Erik Kramer
1997: Rick Mirer and Erik Kramer
1998: Erik Kramer, Steve Stenstrom and Moses Moreno
1999 and 2000: Jim Miller, Shane Matthews and Cade McNown
2001: Shane Matthews and Jim Miller
2002: Chris Chandler, Henry Burris and Jim Miller
2003: Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman and Chris Chandler
2004: Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn and Rex Grossman
2005: Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman
2006: Rex Grossman
2007: Brian Griese, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton
2008: Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman
2009: Jay Cutler
2010: Jay Cutler and Todd Collins
2011: Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and Caleb Hanie
2012: Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell
2013: Jay Cutler and Josh McCown
2014: Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen
2015: Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen
2016: Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley