A Historic Performance by a Bears’ QB

by Jeeves

Lost in all the hoopla and hubbub and questioning of manhood concerning Jay Cutler was a rather curious decision by the Bears’ coaching staff. After Cutler limped off the field and before Caleb Hanie made his surprisingly strong playoff debut, Todd Collins was put into the game. This represented quite the moment in history. The second Collins put his feet on the field, he officially became the worst quarterback in the history of football to play in the playoffs. Coming from a bitter Bears’ fan, I realize this may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you, by certain measures, it is not.

Thanks to the wonderful play index feature at pro-football-reference.com, I was able to do a quick search which led me to the unprecedented nature of Collins’ appearance. After looking up his stats for the season: 27 pass attempts, 10 completions, 0 TD, 5 INT, and a stunning 5.9 passer rating, I was able to come up with an interesting search. I wanted to find out, first and foremost, has any quarterback compiled a worse regular season. So using 27 pass attempts as a minimum, I searched for any QB’s with a worse passer rating (I realize passer rating is a flawed statistic, but it’s decent for a quick and dirty comparison like this). I only found two superior (inferior?) seasons of suckitude since 1977:

Joe Reed – GS 1, G 3, 13/40 150 yds, 0 TD 4 INT, Rating 5.2

Randy Hedberg – GS 4, G 7, 25/90 244 yds, 0 TD 10 INT, Rating 0.0

Hedberg’s season is really a testament to putridity. Look at that line again, 0 TD, 10 INT. I don’t know if the zero rating is more impressive or the fact that he started 4 games. Hedberg was actually 1st on the depth chart to begin the 1977 season, so it’s not as though he arose to the position via injury, though I will discount it some due to the fact that his performance was for the second year Tampa Buccaneers. I think the 0.0 QB rating takes the cake. I’ll frame it this way, if you were to throw nothing but incomplete passes, the lowest rating possible is a 36.

These other two gentlemen didn’t make an appearance in the playoffs, which explains in part why they saw the field as much as they did. Collins, number 3 on that list, did see the field in the playoffs, making him the worst player to ever play QB in the playoffs, quite the dubious honor.

As poorly as this reflects on Todd Collins, I think it actually reflects more poorly on the man who put him onto the field, Lovie Smith. Is there any justification for him being higher on the depth chart than Caleb Hanie? Even if Caleb stunk up the joint when he came in at the end of the 3rd, it still wouldn’t justify Lovie basically punting on the 3rd quarter by putting in Collins. Lovie has compiled a pretty decent record in Chicago, there’s no denying that, but it does beg the question, how much better would the Bears be if he wasn’t constantly asleep behind the wheel?

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