A parade of horribles: Looking back on the many, many forgettable Bears QBs
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For being franchises with a near-100-year beef, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears share a great deal of similarities. Each has roots in the 19-teens; and both have legendary coaches and a team history that overflows with Hall Of Fame players, championships, and tradition. But over the last couple decades, these otherwise similar franchises have experienced one tremendous difference, a dissimilarity that has found the Packers winning two Super Bowls and virtually owning the border battle against its longtime rival: quarterback quality.
Since Don Majkowski exited due to injury in week 3 of the 1992 season, just three quarterbacks have appeared in Green Bay’s starting lineup—Brett Favre, Matt Flynn, and, most recently, some guy named Rodgers.
After Jim McMahon (the last quarterback to bring a title to the Windy City) took his final snaps as the punky QB of the Bears midway through the 1988 season, that team has experienced a revolving door of quarterbacks under center in Chicago. In all, a staggering 27 men have started at quarterback for the Bears since, only four of whom started all 16 games in a season. The ensemble includes a mixture of bounce-around veterans, early-round draft busts, guys seemingly plucked from the stands half an hour before game time, and, yes, even a few players that were serviceable, if not above average.
As the Bears and Jay Cutler (sadly, the team’s best quarterback since McMahon, if not Sid Luckman in the 1940s) prepare to host the Packers this Sunday, The A.V. Club looks back at just how bad the Bears had it at QB until the sulking arch villain came to the rescue.
Mike Tomczak—18 games, 1988-90
earned received a Super Bowl ring as McMahon’s backup for the Bears’ shuffling crew in ’85. After the 1990 season, he served as a backup for the Packers, Browns, Steelers, and Lions. Astonishingly, he was in the league until 2000, though only holding a clipboard does wonders for a QB’s longevity.
Jim Harbaugh—65 games, 1988-93
When Tomczak re-took his rightful place on the sidelines, Harbaugh began his lengthy career with the Bears before enjoying better days with the Colts and even better days yelling at people and mainlining Diet Coke as head coach of the 49ers.
Will Furrer—1 game, 1992
We didn’t catch that game, so we don’t know much about this dude.
Peter Tom Willis—3 games, 1992-93
Likely a serial killer, based on amount of names alone.
Steve Walsh—11 games, 1994
The Miami Hurricanes standout left college after his junior season, likely taking a pay cut in the process. His collegiate dominance didn’t transfer to the NFL, where (beyond his Bears stint) he was mainly a backup.
Erik Kramer—46 games, 1994-98
For being undrafted, Kramer managed an impressive, though brief, Bears career. He still owns a couple of Chicago single-season records.
Dave Krieg—12 games, 1996
When Kramer was injured four games in the ’96 season, the ancient Iola, Wisconsin native was called upon to relieve him. Krieg went 6-6 and added to his all-time fumbles record.
Rick Mirer—3 games, 1997
When the Seahawks finally gave up on its No. 2 overall pick after three seasons, he was briefly traded to Chicago, where he went winless in three starts and threw six interceptions to no TDs. Thereafter, he bounced around the league like a Rick Mirer pass at the feet of his receivers.
Steve Stenstrom—7 games, 1998
Matt Flynn threw six TDs in one game last year. Stenstrom threw four in one career.
Moses Moreno—1 game, 1998
As the final pick, Moreno was Mr. Irrelevant in the 1998 draft. The irrelevance continued into his brief NFL career.
Cade McNown—15 games, 1999-2000
The first round pick was a contract holdout and malcontent in his brief and altogether shitty tenure in Chicago.
Shane Matthews—15 games, 1999-2001
Was the answer to the McNown problem. The wrong answer, but an answer nonetheless.
Jim Miller—26 games, 1999-2002
Miller was the first NFL player suspended for steroid use. Imagine how bad his stats would be if he hadn’t juiced.
Henry Burris—1 game, 2000
The Moses Moreno of Bears quarterbacks.
Chris Chandler—13 games, 2002-03
At the ass-end of the veteran quarterback’s lengthy and previously promising career, Chandler was a part-time starter in Chicago. There, he threw just seven touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 17 games (13 starts). Fortunately, due to the abundance of concussions he sustained in his playing days, Chandler probably doesn’t remember much, if any, of it.
Kordell Stewart—7 games, 2003
Already established as a quarterback and receiver, it was in Chicago where “Slash” added ineffective liability to his repertoire.
Rex Grossman—31 games, 2003-08
Since using a first round pick on McNown and using a first rounder to get Mirer worked out so well, the Bears figured, “What the hell!” However, Grossman worked out a bit better (between injury and ineffective spells) and captained the Bears—not counting the team’s amazing defense—to a Super Bowl, which he then lost for them.
Craig Krenzel, Chad Huchinson, Jonathan Quinn—13 games combined, 2004
These can all be merged together into one terrible, forgettable quarterback.
Kyle Orton—33 games, 2005-08
Though un-sexy (both as a QB and an unkempt neckbeard owner), Orton was actually a positive part of Chicago’s putrid passing past. He was unceremoniously traded to Denver with 500 draft picks for Jay Cutler, and then unceremoniously waived to part the seas for Tebowmania last year.
Brian Griese—6 games, 2007
Pass! No, Griese didn’t do much quality passing. He’s just too boring to mention at length.
Todd Collins—1 game, 2010
At a tender 39 years of age in his final season, Collins went out with a roar...of opposing fans cheering for five interceptions in portions of two games.
Caleb Hanie—4 games, 2011
He threw the interception to B.J. Raji in the NFC Championship game, so he’s cool in our book.
Josh McCown—2 games, 2011
Similar to Cade McNown in both name and quarterback capability.
Jason Campbell—1 game, 2012
Anyone who looks fondly on his time with the Raiders after the 1970s probably didn’t have the best career.
Jay Cutler—53 games, 2009-12
Was sacked six times, threw four interceptions, and openly wept in a loss that guaranteed the 2012 Packers the NFC North crown.