Chicago Bears Quarterbacks: Top 10 All-Time

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#3 All-Time Bears QB, Jim McMahon

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At #3 on the list of top 10 Chicago Bears quarterbacks of all time is BYU product, Jim McMahon.  With the fifth overall pick in the 1982 draft, coach Mike Ditka and the Bears selected McMahon to be the successor to Vince Evans.  A players strike in 1982 caused the normal 16-game schedule to be reduced to 9, during which McMahon went 3-4 while starting 7 games, and those 3 wins (the Bears finished 3-6) were almost enough to get them into the playoffs thanks to a one-time expansion of the playoff format from 8 teams to 16.

In 1983 McMahon continued his ascension and started 13 games, posting a 7-6 W/L record as starter in a year that the Bears finished 8-8 while Evans went 1-2 in his three starts.  McMahon completed 175 passes in 295 attempts (59.3%) for 2,184 yards with 12 TDs and 13 INTs and showed an improved field generalship, as shown in his penchant for calling an audible.  McMahon’s free-wheeling style of play suited him well and the team benefitted from it, but often led to frustration for Ditka.

The Bears found themselves on the doorstep of championship glory in 1984, advancing all the way to the NFC championship game in which they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers.  With a defense that instilled fear in opposing offenses and Sweetness alongside him on offense, Jim McMahon continued to flourish and was clearly a QB around whom the Bears felt confident in their chances of winning a title.  Injuries slowed him in ’84, however, and he only started 9 games and was unable to participate in the playoffs.

1985 for the Bears was the year by which all others are measured and thus it needs no description to BGO readers.  Many of the legends stemming from that year of dominance emanated from the defensive side of the ball, but McMahon produced one of his own when he came out and played the second half of the Bears week #3 matchup with the Vikings.  McMahon missed practice earlier in the week after an injury in the Bears’ week #2 game caused him to be hospitalized, and for that reason Ditka went with Steve Fuller as the starter despite McMahon’s protests.

McMahon was inserted into the game in the 3rd quarter and promptly threw a 70-yard TD to Willie Gault on his first pass.  His second play?  A 25-yard TD to Dennis McKinnon.  McMahon’s third possession of the night eventually ended in yet another TD pass to McKinnon — this one from 43 yards out — and the Bears went on to win 33-24 after trailing 17-6 before Ditka sent McMahon in.

The Bears of course went on to claim their one and only Super Bowl title that year with McMahon going 11-0 in his starts and throwing for 2,392 yards with 15 TDs and 11 INTs.  McMahon played 3 more years with the Bears thru the 1988 season, battling injuries and bouts with Ditka along the way as well as dealing with Walter Payton‘s retirement after the 1987 season.  McMahon and the Bears never did make it back to the Super Bowl despite having dynastic talent on the roster during the mid-to-late 80s, but the legend of the ’85 team will live on forever.

  • 2nd-winningest QB in team history (46-15)
  • 3rd-most rushing yards for a QB in team history (1,284)
  • 4th-highest rated QB in team history (80.4)
  • 4th-most passing yards in team history (11,203)
  • 4th-most passing TDs in team history (67)

Next: #2: The Current Hope