Bears' quarterback problems are nothing new

Brian Griese is Chicago's 21st starter since Brett Favre took over in 1992. That goes a long way toward explaining why the Packers have been a better team for much of that period.

The score, and it's lopsided: Chicago Bears 21, Green Bay Packers 1.

No, that's not a stupid prediction for the final score of Sunday night's nationally televised showdown at Lambeau Field.

Brian Griese is the Bears' 21st starting quarterback during the Brett Favre era. If you want to know why Favre and the Packers have been consistently better than the Bears during those 16 years, the last few seasons not withstanding, just check out the list at the end of this piece.

While the Packers had Favre, the Bears actually entrusted the starting job to guys named Henry Burris and Moses Moreno. They wasted a first-round pick on Cade McNown. They tried retreads like Rick Mirer. They went the over-the-hill route with Dave Krieg and Chris Chandler.

The Bears' quarterbacking woes, which came to a head last week when Griese finally replaced Rex Grossman, are certain to be featured during Sunday's telecast, said NBC commentator and Hall of Fame coach John Madden.

"That seems to have been their dilemma for a long time," he said during a teleconference this week. "I always laugh about this, but every time you do a Bears game and talk about quarterback, you ultimately get back to Sid Luckman (who played with the Bears from 1939 to 1950). You hear, ‘Remember when they had Sid Luckman?'

"Well, hell, that was before I was born. Some teams never have a quarterback or running back or wide receiver for whatever reason. The Chicago Bears, for whatever reason, can't get a quarterback."

You might say it's not for a lack of trying. In all, 23 quarterbacks have played — not been on the roster, but actually thrown a pass — during the last 16 years. Then again, maybe they haven't tried hard enough. The Bears only used two first-round picks on quarterbacks — McNown and Grossman — during the Favre era.

They say if you have two quarterbacks, you really don't have any. That's been the case in Chicago. Only twice during this span have the Bears had one quarterback make it through all 16 games: Kramer in 1995 and Grossman last season. Six times, the Bears started three quarterbacks. The worst season was 2004. Grossman was lost in Week 3, and the Bears wound up starting four quarterbacks, with Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn being the others.

Not to slight Favre — who has had some of his best games against the Bears — but that revolving door of mediocrity (and often worse) is one reason why he's 22-8 for his career against the Bears.

Here's the list. Try to control your laughter, fellow Packers fans.

1992: Jim Harbaugh starts most of the season, with Peter Tom Willis and Will Furrer getting their chances.

1993: Harbaugh starts 15 games and Willis the other.

1994: Steve Walsh started 11 games and Erik Kramer five.

1995: Kramer started all 16 games.

1996: An over-the-hill Krieg joined Kramer and started most of the season.

1997: Kramer was the full-time starter, though a former first-round pick, Rick Mirer, got a few starts.

1998: Kramer started eight games, with Steve Stenstrom and Moses Moreno also getting some starts.

1999: Shane Matthews returns (he was on the bench in 1993 to 1996), and he, first-round pick Cade McNown and Jim Miller split the starts.

2000: McNown starts half the season, and Matthews and Miller also start.

2001: Miller gets the bulk of the starts, with Matthews also under center.

2002: Miller, an over-the-hill Chris Chandler and Henry Burris, who had a cup of coffee in Green Bay, get the starts. Even some guy named Cory Sauter got some snaps.

2003: Kordell Stewart gets his chance to revive the Bears. Chandler gets some starts, too, before the Bears turn to first-round pick Rex Grossman.

2004: Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn and an injured Grossman are all thrown into the fire.

2005: Grossman goes down again, and is replaced by Kyle Orton.

2006: Grossman starts all 16 games.

2007: Grossman and, now, Griese.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to E-mail him at

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