Shortly after hearing the Chicago Bears acquired quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos the thought of the Superfans flashed through my head. They would approve with a chorus of “Daaaaaaaaaa Bears” and then Chris Farley would keel over. Bill Swerski thinks it is another heart attack from consuming too much Polish Saaaahhhhsage but as it turns out he passes out in amazement that the Bears did the right thing.
You have to think back to the mid-1990s and Erik Kramer for the last good Chicago Bears QB. He had a career 80.7 passer rating and set single season records completions, attempts and yards. Erik was a very good QB. Before Erik was Jim McMahon. Jim had an opportunity to be one of his generations greatest QBs. Unfortunately for Jim injuries derailed him time and time again. While he did do what no other Bears QB was able to, and that is lead his team to a Superbowl title, he will only go down as just another slightly above average QB.
The last “great” quarterback the Chicago Bears had was Sid Luckman. Who? Sid Luckman who led the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950.
Sid Luckman is a Hall of Fame QB. Sid led the Chicago Bears to multiple World Championships, one was the record breaking 73-0 drubbing of the Washington Redskins. He lined up under center as Bears QB for 128 games. He led the league in passing three times and was league MVP in 1943. In an era when offenses resembled rugby scrums, Sid set the standard for what the NFL would become. Sid was a great QB.
After his retirement in 1950 the Chicago Bears have had to wait almost 60 years for the next potential great to come along. Since then the Bears faithful have paid their hard earned money to come out and support the likes of an aging George Blanda, Rudy Bukich, Jack Concannon, Virgil Carter, Bobby Douglass, Mike Phipps, Bob Avellini, Vince Evans, Rusty Lisch, Greg Landry, Mike Tomczak, Jim Harbaugh, Doug Flutie, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Steve Walsh, Dave Kreig, the majorly disappointing Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, Shane Matthews, Jim Miller, Cade McNown, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchison, Rex Grossman, Brian Griese and Kyle Orton. In this collection of average to below average to men that should have chose another profession, only a few in that 58 years span did even a little better than “OK”. Those QBs would be Billy Wade, Jim McMahon and Erik Kramer. These guys weren’t that much better than the collection of stiffs I named above. They happened to be around really good circumstances like the Monsters of the Midway D in 1963, the 46 D in 1985 and Turner’s pass happy offense of the mid-1990s. In and of itself the Bears QB position has had a few great “moments” over the past 58 years but has been far from greatness.
Now the Bears find themselves in an interesting position. They have a pretty talented defense, one of the best young runners in football and a tough special teams. Bears GM Jerry Angelo has been searching high and low for that next “great” Bears QB and has struck out every single time. He thought he had one in Rex Grossman but his size and propensity to do stupid things derailed him. Kyle Orton was always a nice QB and a great guy but was never going to be that great QB Angelo and the Bears organization was after. The Bears no longer wanted a game manager, they wanted the next Sid Luckman.
After a lackluster free agent period that yielded only OL reserve Frank Omiyale, OT Kevin Schaffer, DB Glenn Earl and S Josh Bullocks the Bears began a conversation with the Denver Broncos. This “conversation” was about a certain young star QB named Jay Cutler. Now no team with a Jay Cutler kind of QB would normally engage in this sort of conversation. Normally you say thanks but no thanks and go about your way. But, to the Bears favor, the Broncos were now runned by a new coach, coordinators and GM. They were putting in a whole new Patriot style offense and their plans didn’t necessarily include 25 year old Pro-Bowl QB Jay Cutler. The relations between this new coach, management and the star QB broke down from Day 1. Both sides communicated with one another poorly and one thing led to another. Jay demanded a trade and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was ready to oblige.
The rumors had been swirling for weeks as NFL Network and ESPN began to analyze and predict where Jay Cutler might end up. The Chicago Bears always figured in the conversation but never as a favorite. Simply put the Bears weren’t the type of franchise to “get it done”.
Once the Broncos began looking for a suitor they didn’t have to go far. GM Jerry Angelo had been pro-actively looking at Jay from Day One. While Washington, Tampa, Cleveland and the NY Jets were said to be making their moves the Bears had made theirs. They thought it was enough but the Broncos decided to talk to the Redskins. The future of the Bears was now in Jerry Angelo’s hands. They had not heard from Denver in over an hour. It appeared all hope was lost when Denver called back. Washington’s deal wasn’t much different than what the Bears deal was and Angelo wasn’t hanging up the phone until the deal was done.
Some critics will say a 1st Round pick in 2009 and 2010, along with Kyle Orton and a 3rd Round pick was too much to give up for QB Jay Cutler and 5th Round pick. I think the Bears record of success on NFL Draft’s first day answers those critics but ultimately the deal will be under review over the next several years. One thing we do know is the Bears identified, went after and got the young man who they feel can be the next great Bears QB. After 58 years the Chicago Bears have their guy and no price was too small.