We’re heading into the dog days of the offseason, counting the days until the Chicago Bears 2014 season kicks off. Thanks to Bear Goggles On contributor and the fine editor of Blackhawk Up Keith Schultz’s suggestion, we’re going to do a Top 100 list of the all time Chicago Bears. It’s a fun way to pass the time and take a stroll down memory lane.
The Bears tried to solve their annual quarterback woes in the 2003 draft by selected Rex Grossman 22nd overall. The Bears released Jim Miller before the 2003 season and also brought in Kordell Stewart to compete with incumbent QB Chris Chandler and the rookie Grossman. Rex Grossman had an excellent career at Florida including a 2nd place Heisman finish (2001), being named 1st team All-American (2001), and an AP player of the year award (2001), but there were questions about his lack of height (6’1), slow feet, fumbling issues, and occasional lapses in accuracy that caused him to slip to the back-half of the 1st round.
The thing that held Grossman back wasn’t any of the traits listed above (though fumbling was a problem), it was injuries. Despite not missing any games due to injury in college or high school, Grossman struggled to stay healthy his first three years in the league. As a rookie, some nagging injuries in training camp kept him from competing for the starting job and he was relegated to backing up Kordell Stewart and Chris Chandler. Once the season was out of reach, Grossman was given a chance to start and showed promise but broke his finger in his 3rd start. In 2004 new HC Lovie Smith declared Grossman the opening day starter, but he struggled in his first two starts and then tore knee ligaments in his 3rd start and missed the rest of the season. In his 3rd year, he broke his foot in the a preseason game and missed most of that season but did come back in week 15 to lead the Bears to two wins and a playoff berth. Grossman started the playoff game vs the Panthers and struggled, but after three injury plagued seasons Grossman was finally showing signs of being a legitimate starting QB.
In 2006, Grossman was the first Bears quarterback to a make if through a full season without injury since Erik Kramer in 1995. Grossman and a dominant Bears defense led the team to a 13-3 record in 2006. He had his best statistical season of his career throwing for 3,193 yards and 24 TDs (& 20 INTs). It was an up-and-down year for Grossman; He played great in stretches including 7 games with a passer rating over 100, but was awful in others including 5 games with a passer rating under 50. Grossman saved his best for the playoffs throwing for 636 yards and 3 TDs in wins over the Seahawks and Saints and leading the Bears to the Super Bowl. All the good will Grossman had built with his playoff performance was lost in the Super Bowl after two fumbles and two interception including a game-sealing pick-6 in the 4th quarter.
Grossman came in to the 2007 season as the starter, but was terrible in the first three weeks of the season (45.6 rating) and was benched before week 4 in favor of Brian Griese. Grossman started a few more games when Griese got hurt, but then he got hurt as well as was replaced with Kyle Orton. In 2008 Grossman was in the mix for the starting job but was beat out by Kyle Orton and then allowed to leave as a free agent the next year. Grossman spent a year with Houston before going to the Redskins where he has been a back-up QB for the last four seasons.
The #81 rating may seem high for a QB that only had 1 good season, but the Bears have only been to the Super Bowl twice in my lifetime and Rex played a big part in getting them there in ’06. The defense was the main reason for the 13-3 record in that magical 2006 season, but Grossman made plays when needed and gave the Bears stability at the QB position for the first time in years. He is often overlooked, but Grossman threw for 28 TDs and almost 4,000 yards (including postseason) that season and the Bears wouldn’t have made it to the Super bowl without him.
What do you think of the ranking? Too high? Too low? I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself. We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.