The 2008 slogan for Chicago Bears football is a mask. Necessary to cover up the debacle that has been the quarterback situation in Chicago since the Jim McMahon days (and even though he won a Super Bowl, were not the most spectacular of days). Since McMahon left Chicago the Bears have had more quarterbacks start an NFL game then any other NFL team. Here are the quarterbacks that have started for the Bears since McMahon left town in 1988:
Feel free to skip the paragraph below and just accept that everyone on this list should be considered well below mediocre quarterbacks, after the jump.
Mike Tomczak, Jim Harbough, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Erik Kramer, Steve Walsh, Dave Kreig, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller (the last 3 all in the 1999 season), Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman, Johnathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese.
On the heels of 12 bad years of quarterbacking decisions, Jerry DeAngelo made his bed with Rex Grossman. The 22nd pick out of Florida became the immediate answer to the 15 year old question, who can get the Bears back to Super Bowl. Guess what? He did just that. Only it felt like the defense took the Bears to the Super Bowl and were forced to drag Grossman with them.
Two years after a Super Bowl trip the Bears find themselves in a familiar place, without a capable quarterback. Disregard anything you hear from players or coaches, there is no answer at quarterback wearing a Bears jersey right now, unless you think the spread option with Devin Hester in shotgun can score points against NFL defenses.
The 2002 and 2003 NFL Drafts will not be remembered for producing great quarterbacks or even manageable quarterbacks. Of the QBs drafted in the first two rounds only Carson Palmer and Rex Grossman started last season. The timing forced Bears management to take a QB during the 2003 NFL draft. Grossman, late in the first round, was an obvious choice. Sometimes the obvious does not work out (google search Ryan Leaf for proof).
Injuries plagued the heir apparent in first few seasons in the Windy City. Then in 2006 Grossman started the season off in great form and the Bears were on a roll. As is usually the case, NFL defenses and coordinators need about half a season or so to figure out how to stop QBs. It took defenses that long to figure out Grossman could not make all the throws, was too short to see over big defensive lineman and made questionable if not bad decisions under pressure. Even with all that the Bears squeaked into the Super Bowl behind brilliant performances from the defense and special teams.
After a Super Bowl trip the entire off-season swirled around the quarterback position. Was Grossman good enough to get the Bears back to Super Bowl and lead them to victory in 2007? The answer turned out to be no. So after a terrible year following a Super Bowl trip in 2006 the Bears mixed things up when they announced the starting quarterback position will be an open competition between Grossman and Kyle Orton. Just to write that hurts.
The Bears front office seems married to Grossman and casually courting Orton. While DeAngelo and the brass at Soldier Field decide between Grossman and Orton (which is like deciding to sleep with either Rachel Dratch or Anne Ramsey [see picture]) here is what they missed out on:
The Bears passed on drafting Joe Flacco or Brian Brohm in the draft last year. The decision is somewhat understandable. The defense is aging and the unit does not have time to wait on the development of an unproven quarterback.
There were several quarterbacks the Bears passed on, got out bidded on or did not go after in free agent market. OBs that could have helped, Jeff Garcia, Matt Schaub, Brad Johnson, Derek Anderson, and David Carr. There is no telling if any of these guys would have helped but at least it would have communicated to the Bears faithful that they knew something needed to be fixed. The Bears QB situation with Rex Grossman started as a leaky faucet but now the house is flooding and no one seems eager to fix it. Perhaps the Bears stood no chance at landing any of the marquee QB free agents but did they ever even try? DeAngelois well known for his ability to draft superior defensive players. He has foundnumerous Pro-Bowlers in the second or third rounds in his tenure in Chicago, yet the QB situation will be his legacy as Bears GM.
And a spectacular defense with only a few more good years left before back pains lead to retirement and linebackers chase bigger pay days will be wasted keeping the flood waters at bay. In four years the house will be under water and the rebuilding process will begin….again.
One City. One Team. Great Slogan.