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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Roster of Broken Dreams, Bears Edition- The Offense!

Last year (with great help from the scholars at Hire Jim Essian!) I compiled a list of the worst pitchers and position players developed by the Cubs in my lifetime. This year I've decided to do the same for the Chicago Bears (once more with help from the HJE regulars). So here are the greatest Bears draft busts at every position taken during my lifetime (1988-onward)

Quarterback- As most football fans now, quarterback is where the Bears have struggled greatly to find stability for the last half century (hopefully that problem is now over with Cutler under center), and many draft picks have been wasted on the most important position on the field, the greatest three mistakes make up the team's depth chart-

1st String-Cade McNown. My feelings on McNown are well known. The weak armed, cocksure McNown was drafted out of UCLA with the 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft. The Bears chose to overlook his weak arm and somewhat questionable attitude because they felt that, as a four year starter, he was "NFL ready," and with his decent mobility they believed he could be a Jake Plummer type quarterback for them (why they thought that was a good thing I'll never know). Instead what they got was the single most despicable player in Bears history, one who alienated fans, teammates, coaches, and the media. He blamed his receivers' fatigue when he over threw them on deep routes. He blamed the offensive line when he failed to call the right protection. He told the fans to stay home if they wanted to boo him. He was, without a doubt, the worst Bears quarterback of many, and that's why he's right here at number one.

2nd String- Rick Mirer. While not a draft choice of the Bears, Mirer makes into onto this list because of the 1997 first round pick that the Bears traded to Seattle in order to obtain him. Why the Wannstedt Brain Trust ever decided that Mirer had what it took to be an NFL starter after having over 1500 passes worth of evidence to the contrary I'll never know. Mirer arrived in Chicago, failed to learn the offense quickly or push Erik Kramer out of the starting job, and failed miserably after being handed the job starting with the fourth game of the season. Mirer went 0-3 in 3 starts with a 37.7 rating, 0 tds, and 6 ints. The Bears were outscored 78-23 with Rick at the helm.

3rd String- Rex Grossman. This one sucks to put here, because I still, after everything, like Rex Grossman. I've never seen a player so brutally attacked by fans and hte media for so long and never lash out or break down. When he was on he was the best we've ever seen under center. When he was off, which sadly became the norm towards the end, he was absolutely brutal. I wish him luck in Houston, but there's no denying that at the end he was a bust.

Runningback- The Bears have a great history of runningbacks. Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski, Rick Casares, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Neal Anderson, and even Thomas Jones were all either solid or spectacular players. Anthony Thomas provided some quality yardage during the Jauron years. Matt Forte looks to be the real deal. But all of that greatness doesn't excuse three colossal busts at halfback-

1st string- Curtis Enis. A former Parade All American, Ohio Mr. Football, and two year starter at Penn State (where he rushed for 3,256 yards and 36 tds in roughly 2 1/2 seasons of work), Enis was who the Bears tabbed with the 5th overall pick in the 1998 draft. The Bears had been considering Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss, but decided that his attitude problems made him too much of a risk. The Bears initially tried to trade up in the draft to select either Ryan Leaf or Andre Wadsworth (so no matter which of the three they wound up with, all would have been busts), then refused offers from Jacksonville (which had two first round picks that year), New England (also had two first round picks), and St. Louis to trade down in the round so that they could have a crack at Enis. Enis then held out for a large contract for much of training camp in 1998. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt punished him by keeping him as a back up. Enis was finally given a start in the 9th game of the season, and promptly tore his ACL. He started 12 games in 1999 and rushed for 916 yards, but with a paltry 3.3 ypc average. By 2000 he had been shifted to fullback, and after that year was out of the league despite a comeback attempt with the Browns.

2nd String- Cedric Benson. I think I covered Benson enough the other day.

3rd String- Rashaan Salaam. It's more or less a toss up over whether Benson or Salaam was more disappointing. I give the victory to Benson because he was taken higher in the draft (4th overall vs. 21st), he pissed me off recently, and Salaam's 1995 season (1,074 yds, 10 tds) was actually pretty solid. Salaam, the 1994 Heisman winner, was he 21st pick in the 1995 draft out of Colorado. In Ron Turner's record breaking 1995 offense he was solid as a rookie, even if his fumbling habit (9 in 16 games) was a bit disturbing. After 1995 things went downhill for Salaam. He fumbled even more often, broke his leg, admitted to smoking a great deal of weed during his rehab and never managed to get back on track. He was released after the 1997 season, leading the Bears to draft Curtis Enis. And thus fail led to fail.

Fullback- The blocking back in most pro offenses isn't usually a position taken high in the draft, which usually means fullbacks are unlikely to show up on draft bust lists. However, the Bears did spend a first round pick (the 23rd overall) in 1988 on fullback Brad Muster.

Brad Muster-Muster was drafted to replace Walter Payton's backfield mate, Matt Suhey. While Muster's career statistics look good, he was often injured and never earned the respect or admiration that had been granted to Suhey. Most felt that he never earned his first round status, as it was likely that the Bears could have used that pick on a different position and still acquired a fullback in a later round. (Special thanks to HJE's Mike D. for the Muster description, as I'm a wee bit too young to remember him).

Wide Receiver- The Bears have never really had a standout wide receiver, despite occasional fluke seasons like Marcus Robinson's 1999 (1400 yds, 9 tds) and Marty Booker's solid 2001 and 2002 seasons. So it should be no surprise they've had their fair share of draft day wiffs at wideout.

WR #1- David Terrell. Terrell, a record setting wide receiver for Tom Brady and Drew Henson at Michigan, was the 8th overall pick in the 2001 draft. Terrell failed to pick up the offense, complained about his role in it, often suffered a case of the dropsies, and started just 14 games in his first three seasons for the Bears. In 2004 he had his first 100 yard receiving game in the season opener, then disappeared after the injury to Rex Grossman. He drew several penalties throughout the course of the season and quickly made his way onto Lovie Smith's shit list. He was released after the '04 season, spent on year with the Broncos, and has failed to catch on anywhere else since (including an attempt to make the Chiefs just last week).

WR #2- Mark Bradley. The man drafted in the 2nd round to replace Terrell started 4 games in his rookie season of 2005 before tearing his ACL. In his absence Bernard Berrian stole his job, and Bradley never started another game in 2006 or 2007. He too wound up on Lovie Smith's shit list for reasons unexplained. He was released in 2008 and now plays for the Chiefs.

Tight End- The Bears had struggled for many decades to replace Mike Ditka's production at tight end before signing Desmond Clark in 2003 and drafting Greg Olsen in 2007. Along the way they wasted a few draft picks on the pass-catching linemen, the most prominent being:

TE- John Allred. The Bears made Allred their first pick (2nd round) in the 1997 draft, making the first two rounds of that draft a complete waste including the pick sent to Seattle for Rick Mirer. The USC product started just 30 games in four seasons for the Bears and never had more than 109 receiving yards or 1 td in any of those years.

Offensive Line- The Bears have spent three first round picks on offensive tackles in my lifetime. Two of them have made this list. The third (Chris Williams) will be the starting right tackle this year. Here's hoping he doesn't supplant either of these two on This team. At guard they've had their fair share of whiffs, although fortunately guard isn't often a 1st round position:

Left Tackle- Stan Thomas. A pick that then head coach Mike Ditka thoroughly opposed, Thomas was the brain child of idiotic former Bears president Michael McCaskey. The 22nd overall pick in the 1991 draft, Thomas started just 7 games his rookie year, zero his second year, and was released by the Bears and washed out of the NFL by year three.

Left Guard- Bob Sapp. A third round pick by Wannstedt in 1997, Sapp was cut by new VP Mark Hatley BEFORE the 1997 season even started, and never appeared in a game in a Chicago Bears uniform. He started one game for the Vikings that year before leaving football in order to become an MMA fighter in Japan known as Bob "The Beast" Sapp. He also made a cameo in the remake of "The Longest Yard."

Center- Dave Zawatson. The Bears have drafted just two centers in my lifetime, one being an unimportant 9th round pick, and the other being Olin Kreutz, so no real busts at this position. Therefore I'm forced to take Dave Zawatson, a guard drafted in the 2nd round of the 1989 draft, and shift him to the middle. Zawatson played in just four games with zero starts his rookie year before being released.

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Right Guard -Marcus Spears. A 2nd round pick in the 1994 draft, Spears failed to crack the starting lineup in any of his three years in Chicago, and only made it into 9 games total, all in his third year. He was released after the '96 season and spent 8 years as a back up in Kansas City and Houston before retiring in 2003.
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Right Tackle- Marc Colombo. The Bears first round pick in 2002 (29th overall), Colombo got off to a promising start his rookie year before shredding his knee in the turf at St. Louis. Colombo then missed all of the 2003 season and most of the '04 season before returning. After appearing in just 9 games (2 starts) for the Bears in 2004 and 2005, Colombo was released and caught on with the Cowboys. He's started every game for Dallas the last three years, making him a contemptible bastard unworthy of his mother's love.

That wraps up the offensive half of the football for this team of failure. The defensive and special teams will be revealed on Monday.

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