Mike Glennon is no longer the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears. In his time leading Chicago’s offense, he recorded a 76.9 passer rating and managed 4.12 ANY/A. That’s bad, and neither of those metrics penalize him for his five fumbles. He was expected to be a slightly below average placeholder, and he failed even at that. However, he is nowhere near the worst starter in Bears’ history. In fact, he’s not even close to the worst starter since the Bears last won a Super Bowl.
To avoid a single game (cough * 2010 Todd Collins * cough) driving the total narrative, I looked at only Bears quarterbacks who, in a single season, started at least four games. This gives us 49 quarterback seasons or partial seasons to choose from. 1997 Eric Kramer, with his 5.0 ANY/A, represents the median performance in this group. To give some sense of the state of Bears quarterbacking in this time, only one of Jay Cutler’s eight qualifying seasons is below this median (2009). Incidentally, while that means there’s an argument to be had over whether or not Cutler was an above-average quarterback, he was certainly an above-average quarterback for the Bears.
Mike Glennon’s 2017 performance was 37th. While we can easily dismiss 38th-place Jim Harbaugh’s 1989 performance of 4.02 ANY/A and 70.5 passer rating as a product of different times, there are plenty of examples from this millennium that are every bit as bad as anything Mike Glennon managed.
Here are the chief candidates since Y2K, any of which is actually worse that what we just saw:
2003 Kordell Stewart might be a solid match for Glennon. Signed as a free agent and announced as the starter, he was pulled after only five starts. However, he played in played in 9 games and started 7 of them, going back in after Chris Chandler also faltered. Stewart was bad. He was so bad that his 56.8 passer rating and 3.16 ANY/A seems inflated somehow. Throwing 12 interceptions compared to 7 touchdowns wasn’t very good. Of course, his actual “career” in Chicago is worth commenting on. Like Glennon, Chicago was actually a low-point for Stewart, even if (one Pro Bowl aside) he was never really exceptional.
2011 Caleb Hanie was much worse than Glennon, with 6 games and 4 starts. He turned in a 1.12 ANY/A and a passer rating of 41.8. That’s...I mean....that is such a remarkably bad performance that almost anything I can type seems like an understatement. Nine interceptions in only 102 pass attempts stand out, as do 19 sacks. However, Hanie was not the starter, and he was only pressed into action after the starter was injured. Thus, while his performance in 2011 was statistically the worst quarterback outing for the Bears of the millennium, he was a backup. This should probably earn him a little bit of slack, even if how much slack he deserves will be up to each fan to decide.
2007 Rex Grossman had 8 games and 7 starts, and he is my personal choice for most disappointing, if not necessarily worst overall. Across 225 pass attempts, he had only 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also suffered 25 sacks. His passer rating of 66.4 was bad, but not horrid. However, it’s important to point out that the 2007 Bears were not just any football team. They had an elite defense and were coming off of a Super Bowl appearance. However, Grossman was worse than a quick glance at a box score might suggest. His third-down completion percentage was under 41%, and his passer rating for third-and-7-9 was 21.3. Anyone who recalls that season understands why I point to those two numbers, because the offense could not get out of its own way, and Grossman was a big part of the reason why (if not the only reason). Grossman had three starts, was relieved for Griese, and then was forced back into action by injury. His 2007 performance was bad, but the circumstances made it worse.
Those are my contenders, and I insist that as bad as Mike Glennon was, it is pure hyperbole to claim (as some have) that he was the worst starting quarterback in Bears history. The sad fact of the matter is that the Bears have too many contenders for that title for an interloper from NC State to claim it so easily.
We can only hope that unlike Stewart and Grossman, Glennon stays on the sideline now that he has been relieved of his status. In the meantime, take a moment to let us know which quarterback performance you feel was the worst of the millennium:
Who had the worst single-season performance for the Bears at quarterback since 2000?
This poll is closed
2017 Mike Glennon
2011 Caleb Hanie
2007 Rex Grossman
2003 Kordell Stewart
Other (explain below)