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  • Dan Marich

Different Directions


The good news for fans of Chicago sports teams is that there is almost always a team or two having a great run of success. The bad news for Chicago sports team fans is that there is always a team or three crashing and burning. Right now is an example of teams moving in opposite directions.


The beloved can't figure out how to recognize a quarterback to lead their team. Now in fairness, it has only been about 50 years that they've struggled with this, so we need to give them a break. Later I'll share with you my top six all time Bears quarterbacks in my lifetime. Why only six you say? Have you watched this team?


About five miles West of the Bears, the Chicago Blackhawks have discovered the fountain of youth, once again, and have amazingly put together a team that is fun to watch, and looking like they are moving up the talent ladder. Picked to finish last this year they are solidly in a playoff position and seem to have the stuff to hang on.


I recently spoke with In My Opinion, hockey insider, John Markiewicz, and with In My Opinion, pro football insider, Tom Barnicle. Unfortunately, as it usually does when we get together, even virtually, it dissolved into a liquor fueled slur fest and I can't read my notes. But I know we had a good time.


Let's talk positives first.


The Blackhawks are one of the surprise teams so far in the NHL. They have used the easiest part of their schedule to rack up points, and, learn how to play as a team. Their powerplay has been deadly effective and their penalty kill has been good enough. However, the biggest surprise has been the rock solid play of their goalies.

Led by rookie of the year candidate, Kevin Lankinen, along with Malcom Subban, the Hawks goaltending has been outstanding. Their goals against average is under 3 per game and their save percentage is around .920%, both rock solid. If they can maintain this going into the toughest part of their schedule, they have a real chance to make the playoffs this year.

Mr. Showtime himself, Patrick Kane, has been sensational so far. I know we have seen him do some incredible things in his career, but taking over the leadership of this team, while Jonathon Toews has been on the DL, may be his greatest feat so far in his time with the Hawks. He has the third highest time on ice per game stat on the team at just over 22 minutes per game. This is unheard of for a forward and shows his value right now.

The other big surprise is Branden Hagel. He has brought an energy to the team missing for some time. His willingness to fight for the puck and go to the dirty places on the ice is showing everyone how much he wants to be a long time fixture on this team. As he said in an interview with CSN, when asked why he is so determined to get the puck, "it's way more fun to play hockey with the puck than to be chasing the puck." You gotta love that.


If you get the chance to watch a game, even if you are not a huge hockey fan, you will see a really fun team to watch, and you might even be interested in seeing more. As for our beloved, a completely different story over there.


This screwed up mess is lead by the walking dead trio of Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy, and Ted Phillips. Once again they are trying to find a quarterback. As of today they are focusing on Russell Wilson of Seattle, who may or may not even be available via trade, and Deshaun Watson of Houston who wants out but the team says they are not trading him. Of course, Pace could have selected him in the draft, but he traded up for Mitch Trubisky instead.


It would take an entire five part series to get into all that is wrong with this team and frankly I don't have the energy, or enough vodka left, to start today. Instead I'll give you my top six Bears quarterbacks in my lifetime. This will show you just how bad this position has been for our beloved and hopefully won't make you as sick to your stomach as it made me researching it.


#6 George Blanda - I know. What a depressing start to a list. The fact that he is even on this list shows you the weakness at this position.


#5 Mike Tomczak - Believe it or not, he is one of only three quarterbacks since 1954 that have a winning playoff record for the Bears. His 2-1 stat gets him on my list, plus I always thought he was under played with the Bears.


#4 Jay Cutler - He holds most of the passing records for this team, so he makes the list, no matter how much I hated him and his surly post game interviews. He has 154 TD's, 23,443 yards, and a 61.8% completion percentage. He's still a jagbag, but he's made my list.

#3 Kyle Orton - During a stretch when the Bears had some of the worst quarterbacks of all time playing, he was a shining light of talent. Naturally, the Bears shipped him off to Denver to make room for the great Steve Stenstrom, and get Jay Cutler in return. Had he stayed he might have been the best ever.

#2 Billy Wade - The original, number nine, is undefeated in playoff history for the Bears, 1-0 to win the 1963 championship game. He started for five seasons and excelled at handing the ball to the running backs. You win a championship and you move to the top of the list for me.

#1 Jim McMahon - The punky QB was an easy choice. 3-2 with a Super Bowl victory, gets you the top spot on my list. His ability to escape the rush, and keep plays alive made him fun to watch. He was lucky to have Walter Payton to hand the ball off to also. Had he not been injured, who knows what he might have done for the Bears.


How's that for a list? The Bears have been lucky enough to have some of the best running backs and middle linebackers in pro football history so its hard to get so greedy that you want a similar list for the most important position on the football field.


But, maybe, just once in my lifetime, can we actually get someone that makes us proud?

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