This man, of course, was Rick Mirer.
Monday, June 23, 2014
This man, of course, was Rick Mirer.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
TOP FIVE HILARIOUSLY AWFUL DAVE WANNSTEDT PERSONNEL DECISIONS:
5. Re-signing Alonzo Spellman (and not Jeff Graham)
Alonzo Spellman was a defensive end from Ohio State who had been the last first round pick of the Ditka regime in 1992. Spellman had largely under-achieved through the first four years of his contract, and entered the last game of the 1995 season with just 19 sacks in 62 career games. Spellman had three sacks in the '95 season finale against the Eagles, and entered the offseason as a potential free agent.
Another free agent that offseason was wide receiver Jeff Graham, who had 150 receptions for 2,245 yards and 8 TDs in two years as a Bear, including a then-franchise record (since eclipsed by Marcus Robinson's lightning-in-a-bottle 1999 season) 1301 yards in 1995.
Given that the Bears are rarely a free-spending team, they were in the position of only re-signing one of the two, and Wannstedt chose to gamble on Spellman, based on a one-game outburst, rather than Graham, a consistent performer.
Graham went on to play until 2001 with the Jets and Chargers (he actually managed 907 yards with the 2000 Chargers despite catching passes from Ryan F*&king Leaf) while the Bears had to run through a motley assortment of receivers in the last few years of the Wannstedt Era.
Spellman, meanwhile, had a respectable 8 sacks in 1996 before the wheels fell off in 1997. Spellman injured his shoulder in 1997 and finished with just two sacks, but even more concerning than his shoulder injury was the fact that he was batshit crazy. In March of 1998 Spellman, angry that his doctor was late to an appointment, decided to yank a phone out of the wall of the office and threatened to kill himself. Spellman also ballooned in weight, began to have drug problems, and was eventually released after he refused to have surgery on his injured shoulder. Nice choice, Dave.
4. John Thierry over Trace Armstrong
One of the reasons that Wannstedt may have decided he needed to re-sign Spellman was the glaring mistake he'd made the year before when he let defensive end Trace Armstrong go after drafting John Thierry. John Thierry was a linebacker at Alcorn State, a I-AA school, that Wannstedt thought he could turn into a defensive end. Wanny compared him to Charles Haley, which was right on since Thierry finished just 67 sacks, 5 Pro Bowls, and 2 All Pro nominations short of Haley's career totals. Even more important was the fact that Thierry's 12.5 sacks in 5 years as a Bear barely exceeded the 11.5 sacks that Trace Armstrong had in 1993 alone. Wanny decided to go with the young Thierry over the proven Armstrong and got burned badly, as Armstrong would go on to play for another decade, with three more seasons of at least 10 sacks (including 16.5 as a 35 year old in 2000) while Thierry never had more than 4 sacks in a season as a Bear.
3. The runningback he didn't draft
Before Wannstedt's first draft with the Bears in 1993 it was obvious that the team needed help on the offense. Neal Anderson, a shifty runningback similar to Matt Forte who could catch passes out of the backfield had been injured for most of the previous seasons and was approaching the dreaded age 30 wall. He was also a poor fit for Wannstedt's offense (based on Jimmy Johnson/Norv Turner's offense in Dallas) which needed a workhorse back. One was available in the 1993 draft in the person of Jerome Bettis, whom you may have heard of. Instead, the Bears drafted Curtis Conway, a one-dimensional receiver from USC who had only played wide receiver for a year in college. While Conway had a long and somewhat above-average NFL career, he was an inconsistent performer who had just two seasons with more than 733 receiving yards during his seven years in Chicago, while Bettis went on to finish his career with the 5th most rushing yards in NFL history. Guh. That's alright, though, because of...
2. The runningbacks he did draft.
During that 1993 season, where the Bears averaged just 14 points per game thanks to a poor season by the aging, injured Anderson (who'd have thunk?) and Conway contributing a mere 19 receptions (Bettis had 1400 yards rushing, but who's counting?) it became apparent that the Bears did need to find a runningback. They tried to get by in 1994 with Lewis Tillman and Tim Worley (both sucked) but were ultimately forced to draft a runningback in 1995. That runningback was Heisman Trophy winner Rashaaan Salaam.
To be fair to Wanny, the Salaam pick seemed to be worth the gamble (there were rumors of drug use and his hands were always questionable) when he set rookie records for the Bears by rushing for 1074 yards and 10 TDs in 1995. However, he also fumbled 9 times, caught just 7 passes (and had numerous drops), and averaged only 3.6 yards per carry. In 1996, Salaam suffered through an injury-plagued season and finished with just 496 yards (3.5 avg), then later admitted to smoking heavy amounts of marijuana while rehabbing and struggled with his rehabilitation and his weight. Salaam went flat-out bust in 1997, rushing for just 112 yards, and was released. That cleared the way for....
Curtis Enis, the #5 overall pick in the 1998 draft. Enis was a guy who had rushed for a ton of yards at Penn State, but had also accepted money from an agent while he was there (among other controversies) and was once described by Joe Paterno as "the biggest con man to ever go through the Penn State program." The Bears, however, bought into the "changed man" act that Enis gave them in pre-draft interviews and chose him over Randy Moss, who they deemed to be a bigger character risk. Enis naturally showed his character by immediately holding out for an outrageous contract, resulting in a showdown that resulted in Enis playing just nine games his rookie year, with only one start. He rushed for just 497 yards that year with no touchdowns (3.7 average), and the Bears managed the same 4-12 record in 1998 with their new runningback bust that they had in 1997 with their old one. Enis went on to rush for just 916 yards in 1999 before new coach Dick Jauron moved him to fullback. He was out of the NFL after just three years, just like his predecessor. At least the Bears didn't have to deal with Randy Moss and all of his damn character issues. And all of those damn touchdowns. Bullet. Dodged.
1. Trading for Rick Mirer
It's hard to really explain to people who weren't there at the time, or who don't really remember Rick Mirer, everything that is wrong with the Bears decision to trade for him. To begin with, never before in the history of football has a player with such an incredibly proven track record of awful play been acquired at such a high cost. Even if Mirer had been able to resurrect his career like a Jim Plunkett or a Tommy Maddox or other quarterback busts who moved on, none of them demanded a first round pick as compensation. Hell, even Steve Young didn't merit a first round pick when he was traded from the Bucs to the 49ers. Yet, there was Dave Wannstedt sending away the 11th overall pick in the 1997 for a guy who had a 41-56 TD:INT ratio and a 65.2 QB rating in Seattle.
Perhaps even more frustrating was the fact that Wannstedt had Erik Kramer on the roster, a quarterback who had set every single franchise passing record possible in 1995 and who had passed his physicals and fully recoverd from the neck injury that had ended his 1996 season after just four games. Kramer had a 40-24 TD:INT ratio and an 83.9 rating in his three years as a Bear, numbers that would make any sane human being concede that he was a vastly superior quarterback to Rick Mirer, not to mention the fact that Kramer would be entering his fourth season in the system in 1997 while Mirer, a notoriously slow learner, would be entering his first.
With every logical impulse telling him no, Wannstedt pulled the trigger anyway and sent the 11th pick to Seattle for Mirer in one of the greatest heists in history. Mirer then struggled to learn the offense, Kramer clearly outplayed him in the preseason, and Kramer started while Mirer served as an expensive clipholder. Kramer was benched after an 0-3 start and Mirer was given three chances to prove himself and failed epically, going 0-3 against the Patriots, Cowboys, and Saints while compiling a 37.7 quarterback rating and guiding an offense that was outscored 72-9 under his watch. Kramer was reinserted and had a mediocre 74.0 passer rating (nearly twice as high as Mirer's, though) but managed his second 3,000 yard season in Chicago. Mirer was cut after one year, making him the greatest front office blunder in the history of the organization.
One final reason the Mirer trade still chaps my ass? The Bears biggest need in the draft that year was tight end, and, after trading away the 11th pick, they settled for USC tight end John Allred (30 receptions in 4 years as a Bear) in the second round. Had they decided to go with Kramer as their starter at QB in 1997 and spent their first round pick on a tight end, there was some guy named Tony Gonzalez available who went to Kansas City with the 13th pick. Might have been handy to have that guy around for the last 14 f*&king years.
So in summary, I f*&king hate you, Wanny.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Defensive End- It all starts up front for this defense, with the edge rushers. The great Bears teams of the 1980s, and the two Lovie Smith playoffs teams of 2005 and 2006 were all built around pressure from the front four. The Bears have still had some whopping busts on the line, including our three man rotation at defensive end-
Right Defensive End- Alonzo Spellman. The last first round pick of the Ditka regime was Ohio State sack artist Alonzo Spellman, with the 22nd pick in 1992. Spellman was drafted to replace the aging Richard Dent. Spellman failed to ever even come Close to the numbers Dent put up in his time in Chicago, never registering more than 8.5 sacks in one season (and even in that career year he did much of his damage in just one game, with three sacks against Philadelphia). Spellman would often disappear for stretches at a time, often going months without a sack before reeling off a good game or two. After suffering from injuries and ineffectiveness during the 1997 season, Spellman was released by the Bears. After sitting out the 1998 season, he played three more seasons with the Cowboys and Lions before being released in 2001. Spellman has become known more for his erratic personality and bipolar disorder than his career as a football player, some excerpts (straight from ol' Wikipedia):
"Spellman exhibited erratic behavior during his time with the Bears. The first incident in which this behavior became public was in March 1998, in which Spellman became enraged when a doctor was late for an appointment, pulling a telephone off of a wall and threatening suicide. Complicating matters, Spellman had access to alcohol and a firearm and by this time weighed in the neighborhood of 300 lbs (136 kg). Authorities were called in, and friend and former teammate Mike Singletary helped get Spellman to check into a hospital, but Spellman later wandered out of the hospital."
"Spellman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but refused to take medication, instead becoming increasingly reliant on drugs and alcohol. This led to even more erratic behavior and run-ins with the law. These problems, along with his refusal to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured shoulder, led to Spellman's release by the Bears."
"Most notably, he had a manic episode on July 23, 2002 in which he disrupted a flight from Cincinnati to Philadelphia. Spellman initially suggested that the flight was going to crash, then became verbally abusive to other passengers and threatened members of the flight crew. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Spellman was released, but then destroyed some property at his brother's home and was taken to a psychiatric hospital. He was later arrested on charges of interference with a flight crew. Although doctors confirmed that he had bipolar disorder, Spellman was determined to be legally sane and spent 18 months in federal prison."
Since leaving the NFL Spellman has played in the Arena Football League and has also participated in Mixed Martial Arts.
Left Defensive End- John Thierry. The man who was intended to be Spellman's long term book end is indeed his companion on this team. With the 11th overall pick in the 1994 Draft, Dave Wannstedt snagged linebacker John Thierry from 1-AA Alcorn State, with the intention of turning him into a defensive end. Wannstedt claimed that Thierry could be "the next Charles Haley." I'm going to link to Charles Haley's numbers here. Click on Thierry's namelink, then on the Haley link. Go ahead and compare the stats. I'll wait. Back yet? Hurts, don't it? Instead of become a pass rushing force with 6 seasons of double digit sacks like Haley, Thierry became a monumental bust, who never cracked the starting lineup for more than 9 games in a season or registered more than 4.0 sacks as a Bear. After finally being chased out of town with his hair-lipped head coach following the 1998 season, Thierry wound up in Cleveland, then Green Bay, where he posted better numbers in both cities than he ever did in Chicago. Asshole.
2nd String- Dan Bazuin. You'll notice, if you click the link, that a search for Dan Bazuin on the all-knowing Pro-Football-Reference.com returns no answers. That's because Bazuin, the Bears 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft out of Central Michigan, never played a single down in the NFL. After registering 33.5 sacks in his highly productive college career, Bazuin injured his knee during his first NFL preseason. When the injury required a second surgery, Bazuin was released by the Bears. After failing to make it as a practice squad member of the Houston Texans, Bazuin was informed by doctors that he'd never be able to play football again, and he promptly retired.
Defensive Tackle- Just as important as the defensive ends, the Bears have had some great success drafting either spectacular or solid defensive tackles in my lifetime, players like Tommie Harris, Chris Zorich, and Jim Flanigan. That doesn't excuse them of a few of the mistakes they've made, however.
Nose Guard- Tank Johnson. Johnson, of course, makes this list more for his off-field than on field activities. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft, Johnson was supposed to pair with that year's first round pick, Tommie Harris, and provide the Bears with an unstoppable duo of tackles for years to come. At first Tank's greatest challenge was cracking the starting lineup, which he failed to do consistently until an injury to Tommie Harris in 2006. Then Johnson suffered his series of run ins with the law, culminating in a house arrest that required Johnson to get a special dispensation so that he could participate in the Superbowl in Miami. The full details of Johnson's troubles with the law are compiled here, and it would take up far too much room to copy and paste. If you're not willing to read all that, here's a brief synopsis: he was arrested for illegal firearms, assault, resisting arrest, reckless driving, and driving while intoxicated, his house was searched and found to full of loaded, illegal weapons (there were children in the house), his friend and bodyguard was found in the house and arrested for pot. That same bodyguard then got shot and killed. Then after the 2006 Tank was arrested once more and finally released by the Bears, having played just three seasons for the team. He started just 15 games during that span, and record just 9 sacks. After being cut by the Bears, he spent 2007 and 2008 as a back up with the Cowboys before joining fellow bust Cedric Benson with the Bengals this offseason.
Nose Tackle-Michael Haynes. The other half of the Bear's two picks in the first round of the 2003 draft (Haynes went 14th overall, Grossman went 22nd) also makes this list. Haynes, a defensive end out of Penn State, was a one year wonder who racked up 15 sacks his senior year. After being taken by the Bears he failed to start a single game his rookie year or challenge Alex Brown for playing time. When Lovie Smith brought the Tampa 2 defense with him to Chicago, Haynes found himself a poor fit for the scheme. The Bears moved Haynes to defensive tackle (which is why he occupies this spot on the list), but he still failed to make a significant impact. He was traded to the Saints after the 2005 season after starting just 4 games and registering only 5.5 sacks in three years. The Saints released him after just one game, and he's been out of football since 2007.
Linebacker- At linebacker the Bears have hit on some great picks over the last few decades, from Rosevelt Colvin and Warrick Holdman to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But they've made their fair share of mistakes at this position, and the defenses throughout much of the 1990s suffered because of two of three picks that make this team.
SLB- Ron Cox. A 2nd round pick in the 1990 draft, Cox spend 5 of his 7 seasons in Chicago in a reserve role, and never started more than 13 games in a season, made more than 56 tackles, had more than 3 sacks, and recorded only 1 career interception.
MLB- Dante Jones. The Bears second round pick in the 1988 draft, Jones spent his first five seasons riding the bench behind Hall of Famer Mike Singletary. Jones stepped finally stepped into the starting spot in 1993, and had a monster season, with 189 tackles, 4 interceptions, and a sack. Too bad he was a one year wonder and dropped to just 61 tackles with no sacks or interceptions before being benched in 1994. He was released after that season.
WLB-Michael Okwo. Much like his fellow 2007 draft pick, Dan Bazuin, a Pro-Football-Reference.com search for Dan Bazuin returns no results, because Okwo has also never played a single NFL down. The '07 third round pick from Stanford was also injured during his first preseason, required multiple surgeries, and was cut by the Bears before the 2008 season. He's currently a free agent.
Corner- The Bears have only drafted two first round corners since 1988 (Donnell Woolford and Walt Harris), and while neither one was spectacular, both were quality players, so there haven't been any Major draft whiffs at this position in my lifetime. They've even gotten good value from the corners they've drafted in the 2nd round in that time (Tillman and Hester, although Hester has obviously made his mark somewhere Other than corner). So that makes the two "busts" at this position merely two mediocre players-
RCB- Jeremy Lincoln. A third round pick out of Tennessee in 1992, Lincoln started for just 2 1/2 seasons and was mostly pedestrian in pass coverage, recording only 5 interceptions in 47 games. He was cut before the 1996 season.
SS- Todd Johnson. A 4th round pick out of Florida in the 2003 draft, Johnson was a prodigious hitter, but a poor fundamental player who missed as many tackles as he made and hasn't recorded a single interception in his 5 year career (3 years in Chicago, 2 in St. Louis). He was cut after the 2006 season.
Friday, August 7, 2009
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).
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.
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.
That wraps up the offensive half of the football for this team of failure. The defensive and special teams will be revealed on Monday.