The Chicago Bears have been known as quarterback hell for 20 years. Ever since they had Erik Kramer in the mid-1990s, one of the National Football League’s charter franchises has gone through a long list of signal callers that will make your eyes bleed.
Kramer produced one of the best Bears’ quarterback seasons statistically in 1995 with 3,838 yards, 29 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 60.3 completion percentage. And they made the playoffs.
Bears’ fans might have forgotten that season because between now and then is like a bad horror movie — the one that appropriately comes to mind is “Motel Hell,” which is about a farmer and his sister who kidnap travelers and bury them alive in a garden to create a special ingredient for their tasty “roadside fritters.”
There have been several Chicago QBs whom fans wish were among those buried alive at that motel.
Kramer’s career ended four years later due to injuries, and what followed was … Cade McNown, Shane Matthews, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn … and then Rex Grossman, who led the Bears to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season.
No, I didn’t forget Kyle Orton, who led the Bears to the playoffs in 2005 when Grossman got hurt in the third game of the season.
You would think Sexy Rexy would be a hero with Bears’ fans. Instead, he was the recipient of their angst because he was a gunslinger at times while Orton was a fan favorite. He was a grinder like them, from Purdue — a blue-collar school — while Grossman was a prima donna from Florida. It was the defense that led the Bears to the Super Bowl, haters will tell you, with Grossman as an observer.
The fans hated him, preferring Orton and, in the next couple years after 2006, Brian Griese.
Then came the trade with Denver in 2009 for Jay Cutler, who was a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Broncos the year before, throwing for more than 4,500 yards.
Cutler didn’t win many fans in that first season wearing orange and blue, leading the league in interception with 26. Even when Cutler led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game in the next season, Bears’ fans never embraced him. They finally got their wish a couple months ago when it was officially announced that Cutler wouldn’t be returning.
Be careful what you wish for.
In the last month, the Bears have acquired three new QBs, completely overhauling the position on their roster. First, they signed Mike Glennon to a fairly large contract to be the starter, and then signed Mark Sanchez to be the backup.
But then came Thursday night when Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace gave up three draft picks to exchange picks with the San Francisco 49ers to move up just one spot and take Mitch Trubinsky … oh wait, his mom prefers his given first name, Mitchell Trubinsky … wait, there’s no ‘N’ in his last name? Oh, so it’s Mitchell Trubisky?
The new QB out of the University of North Carolina was quite the surprise. And yes, his name has been mispronounced quite a bit … so much so, that he admitted his nickname is “Mr. Biscuit” because someone said his name wrong once and it sounded like “Mister Biscuit.” So let’s use that name, because maybe Bears fans will feel less angst when reading a funnier name.
Here’s a huge bit of irony. Fans spent so much time and energy complaining about their QB situation. Now their young GM did something about it, and they’re still yelling and complaining.
Is three draft picks a lot to give up? Sure is. The team with which I’m a shareholder and where my parents live five minutes from the stadium in Green Bay would never do that.
Then again, on Feb. 11, 1992, the Packers did trade one first round pick (19th overall) in the upcoming draft to the Atlanta Falcons for an unknown backup QB named Brett Favre, whose name was also mispronounced often, including famously in the NFL Draft when the Falcons picked him in the second round.
My parents had already moved to Cheeseland, and I subsequently moved up there with them later in 1992 to live for just a year, and I recall some of the same confusion as with Bears’ fans now.
“Who the heck is this Favre (mispronounced, of course) guy?” We have the ‘Majik Man’ (Don Majkowski, whose name was also mispronounced occasionally), so why waste a first rounder on some hillbilly (yes, that was said by Packer fans up there)?”
You know how it turned out. Majkowski got hurt in the second game of the 1992 season, Favre came in, won that game, and never missed a game for the green and gold through the 2007 season.
Now I’m not saying Mr. Biscuit is going to be a Hall of Famer like Favre. But Green Bay GM Ron Wolf, who famously said you should draft a QB every year in every draft at some point, was vilified just like Pace after going with his gut conviction.
“This was not done just to do it,” Wolf said at the time. “It was done with a lot of thought. To me the most important thing in professional football is having a person at that position. I think we’ve got a future here in this guy.”
Sounds a lot like what Pace said in the press conference after the first round.
My only problem with drafting Mr. Biscuit is that No. 2 overall picks — no matter what position — usually start in their first campaign, and Pace already said Mr. Biscuit will be the backup to newly-signed Glennon. But the Packers did the same thing with Aaron Rodgers backing up Favre, though Rodgers was picked No. 24, not second overall.
But hey, both gutsy QB decisions worked out for Green Bay, so why not give Pace and Mr. Biscuit a chance.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.