Jay Cutler’s arrival in Chicago three years ago was being signaled as the end of the Bears problems at Quarterback. His era has produced mixed results with mediocre seasons in 2009 and 2011 and outstanding seasons in 2010 and 2012 (through nine games). Cutler’s season ending thumb injury in 2011 came with the Bears 7-3 and concluded with a five game losing streak before salvaging a .500 record with a season ending victory at Minnesota.
After last season’s collapse behind Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown, the Bears signed veteran Quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell has a 31-39 career record as a starter with 74 touchdowns and 50 interceptions.
This wasn’t the first time the Bears had problems with their backup Quarterback. In Smith’s first season in 2004, they used four different starting quarterbacks. Rex Grossman, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn and Chad Hutchinson combined for a 5-11 record. Offensive coordinator Terry Shea was heavily criticized and the quartet finished with a combined 61.7 Quarterback rating.
Caleb Hanie, 2011 0-4 as a starter
After an encouraging second half performance in the NFC Championship Game in January of 2011 there was growing confidence in Hanie’s ability to be a solid backup. He was inserted into the game after Jay Cutler excited the game with a knee injury after playing just one series in the third quarter. Collins was run out after going 0-4. Hanie was 13-20 for 153 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against Green Bay after Jay Cutler went out with an injury.
He led both of their scoring drives in the fourth quarter. One of his interceptions proved to be the difference in the game. B.J. Raji returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to push the Packers lead to 21-7.
Hanie drove the Bears to the Green Bay 29, but an interception on fourth down by Sam Shields at the Green Bay 12 ended the Bears season.
His 2011 season was not as successful. In four games Hanie was 51-102 for 613 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Bears went 0-4 in those four games. They were so dissatisfied with his performance that they signed Josh McCown. McCown had thrown only six passes in the NFL from the 2008 season until the time he was signed.
Josh McCown, 2011, 1-1
McCown started the final two games of the 2011 season for the Bears. In his two starts McCown completed 34-54 for 402 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for 68 yards.
In the Bears second to last game of the season, McCown threw for 242 yards with a touchdown and two int’s in a 35-21 loss at Green Bay. He followed that up with a less impressive performance in the final game of the season in Minnesota. McCown threw for just 160 yards, but led the Bears to a 17-13 victory. McCown was brought back by the Bears for the 2012 season, but cut in before the season began. With the latest injury to Cutler, the Bears resigned McCown on Tuesday.
Todd Collins 2010, 1-0
Collins did not have to do much in his one start. In one of the most futile passing performances in recent history, the Bears and Carolina combined to go 22-51 for 147 yards, no touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Collins was 6-16 for for 32 yards and four interceptions. The Bears were able to overcome Collins ineptitude by rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Forte paced the ground attack 166 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears defense held the Panthers to 147 yards in total offense, Forte scored twice and Robbie Gould kicked three field goals in the Bears 23-6 win.
Rex Grossman, 0-1 2009
Grossman is one of the most polarizing players in Bears history. His inconsistent performances were dubbed as good Rex and bad Rex.
After being backed up by Kyle Orton for most of his Chicago tenure, they switched roles in the 2009 season. Grossman stepped in for Orton in week ten of the 2009 season against Tennessee. He finished 20-37 for 173 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 21-14 loss. He was also sacked twice and had a one yard touchdown run.
Grossman had entered the game a week earlier just before halftime when Orton was carted off with an ankle injury. Grossman finished the game. He was 8-18 for 58 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a rushing touchdown. He led the Bears back from ten points down to win 27-23 against the infamous winless for the season Detroit Lions.
Grossman concluded the 2009 season 32-62 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions with two rushing touchdowns.
Brian Griese, 3-3, 2007
Griese played in parts of five games as Grossman’s backup during the Bears march to Superbowl XLI in February of 2007. Despite coming off two straight division championships in 2005 and 2006 the Bears slumped to 7-9 in 2007.
In 2007, the Bears saw more of bad Rex than good Rex. His turnover became too much for Lovie Smith and the Bears turned to Griese after 34-10 loss at home to Dallas.
In his first game of the 2007 season, Griese went 34-52 for 286 yards two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Bears lost the game to Detroit 37-27. Griese held on to the starting job until week ten when he was knocked out of the game against Oakland with a shoulder injury.
He finished the seasons completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,803 yards. ten touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In his two seasons as a Bear, Griese completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,023 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a 74.1 Quarterback rating
Kyle Orton 10-5, 2005
After missing the final 13 games of the 2004 season with a knee injury the Bears welcomed Rex Grossman back for the 2005 season. Grossman was again sidelined for the majority of the season when he injured his ankle in a preseason game against St. Louis.
With Grossman out, Kyle Orton was given the reins and started from the beginning of the season as a rookie. He finished 15-28 for 141 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in a 9-7 loss at Washington. Orton only threw for over 200 yards twice all season, but he managed the offense well enough to lead the Bears to a 10-5 record an their first NFC North Division title in four years.
He finished the season completing 51.6 percent of his passes for 1,869 yards nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 59.7 Quarterback rating.
Grossman would return for the Bears playoff loss to Carolina. Orton did not start another game for two years.
Orton also started the final three games of the 2007 season. The Bears went 2-1 with Orton once again managing the offense just enough. He completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 478 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He finished the season with a 73.9 Quarterback rating.
Orton ascended to the starting job for the 2008 season. He missed parts of three games after being knocked out against Detroit with an injury in week nine.
2004 Quarterback by Committee
The Bears Quarterback situation in Lovie Smith’s inaugural season was one of the worst in the history of the NFL. Four different quarterbacks started at least three games.
After being the third string Quarterback as a rookie in 2003, Grossman began his second season as the Bears’ starter in 2004. He played the first three games before injuring a ligament in his knee and missing the remainder of the season.
Jonathan Quinn became the first QB to replace Grossman when he started the fourth game of the season against Philadelphia. In his first start he completed 26 of 43 for 215 yards and a touchdown in a 19-9 loss. Quinn was replaced by Craig Krenzel in week six against Tampa Bay. The Bears lost all five games in which he appeared. Quinn never played after the 2004 season.
Quinn completed his Bears tenure with 714 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He completed just 52 percent of his passes and had a 53.7 QB Rating.
Krenzel took over in the Tampa game and would start the next three games after that. His first start was a 23-13 victory over San Francisco. After wins at Tennessee and the Giants, Krenzel lost his final two starts to Indianapolis and Dallas.
In his six games playing for the Bears, Krenzel went 3-2 as a starter, completed 46.5 percent of his passes for 718 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. He finished with a 52.5 Quarterback rating. An ankle injury ended Krenzel’’s season and his tenure in Chicago.
Chad Hutchinson was signed midseason after Grossman’s season ending injury. He came to the Bears after being released by Dallas in training camp earlier in the summer. He started nine games, losing seven for the Cowboys in 2002.
He was outstanding in his first start. Hutchinson went 18-30 for 213 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bears won 24-14 over Minnesota. His QB rating was 115 in the victory. He was unable to duplicate his initial success. The Bears offense scored just 27 points in his last four starts.
In five games, Hutchinson completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 903 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. His Quarterback rating was 73.6. The Bears finished the season with four consecutive losses, all with Hutchinson under center. His tenure ended when he was cut in training camp in 2005. They finished 2005 with a 5-11 record.