Chicago Bears Quarterbacks: Top 10 All-Time

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#9 All-Time Bears QB, Jim Miller

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Jim Miller joined the Bears during some dark days at the quarterback position.  Erik Kramer‘s best was behind him and his run with the Bears was ending in 1998, the year that Miller first came aboard.  Cade McNown was taken with the 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft, making him the highest drafted QB by the Bears since Jim McMahon in a move that solidified Miller’s spot on the bench. Guys named Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno and Shane Matthews were also in and out of the lineup around that time. Like I said, dark days.

With the McNown experiment yielding unfavorable results and 2nd-stringer Matthews either injured or ineffective, Miller’s opportunity to start came. In 1999 he appeared in 5 games while starting 3 (weeks 10-12), and finished the season with 1,242 passing yards on 110 completions in 174 attempts (63.2%) with seven TDs and six INTs.  In the backdrop of how dire the Bears’ quarterback situation was at that point, Miller’s competency at the position was a welcome sight despite the 1-2 record he earned as a starter.  Unfortunately for the Bears and Miller, he became the first NFL quarterback to be suspended under the substance abuse policy after unknowingly taking an over-the-counter banned substance.  As a result, he missed the team’s last 4 games of the season.

In 2000, second-year QB McNown was given another chance to be the guy but after 7 games bottomed out once again.  The other 9 games were split between Miller and Matthews in a forgettable 5-11 campaign.  It wasn’t until 2001 that Miller really started to shine and earn his spot on this list.  In a year when the bounces seemed to go their way (see Mike Brown‘s two straight game-winning INTs returned for TDs in OT) and the defense was resurgent behind a young Brian Urlacher, the Bears went 13-3 with Miller accounting for 11 of those wins over 13 starts.

YouTube is lacking Jim Miller highlights, so instead here’s an example of how much fun that 2001 season was while it lasted:

The Bears hosted Donovan McNabb‘s Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs that year, but lost 33-19.  I’ve always felt if Hugh Douglas doesn’t take a cheap shot on Jim Miller in that game, maybe the Bears advance to the Conference Championship.  The Eagles under Andy Reid were consistently good, with 2001 being the first of four straight trips they made to the NFC Championship game, but they weren’t great and the Bears that year were good enough to knock them off with Miller under center.  Douglas was subsequently fined $35,000 for the hit that injured Miller and changed the complexion of the game.

The magic wore off for Miller and the rest of the team in 2002 as he struggled to a 2-6 record in eight starts.  Out of the Bears’ QB clown car jumped Chris Chandler and Henry Burris, who between them accounted for the remaining 8 starts in a dreadful 4-12 season.  Miller’s short tenure with the Bears was over and he was no longer on the roster in 2003.

Why does he make this list?  In a word, statistics.  I’ll leave you with a few before we move on:

  • 4th-highest passing yards per-game average in team history (183.3)
  • 6th-highest rated passer in team history (76.7) with a minimum of 2,000 yards passing
  • 9th-highest completion percentage in team history (58.5%) with a minimum of 275 attempts
  • 11th-most passing TDs in team history (34)
  • 15th-most yards passing in team history (5,867)

Next: #8: Rex is our Quarterback