Can Caleb Williams forget Chicago about the Bears' sad QB history?

Ted Phillips didn't want to do that.

He did not participate in that Zoom call with the Chicago Bears beat writers in January 2021.

But he said. It was perfect.

“Have we got the quarterback situation right? No,” Phillips said after an 8-8 season in 2020. “Have we won enough games? No. Everything else has.

That about sums it up, right?

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Over the decades, Chicago's quarterback issues have led to a lot of losing seasons for the Bears. Since 1966 (the first year of the Super Bowl era), the Bears have had 32 losing campaigns compared to 19 winning campaigns.

The list of starting quarterbacks during that time would make Cleveland Browns fans blush. On Thursday, USC's Caleb Williams will add his name to the organization's tortured history and, like those before him, promises to be different. But he is different. He's going No. 1 overall. He was the consensus top QB in college football. He can be one instead of another.

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The Bears only have eyes for Caleb Williams at No. 1; Can they go defensive next?

Chicago asked before.

In the early days of 2021, between the departure of Mitch Trubisky and the arrival of Justin Fields, Athletic Quarterbacks ran a series about the team's long, strange history.

Given the external focus on the franchise, now is a good time to revisit it.

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Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack, and in 1948, after his fourth NFL title of the 1940s, George Halas had a quarterback room to envy with those two and future Hall of Famer Bobby Laine. Four years later, they were all gone. Sid's son Bob, who still lives in the Chicago area, gets a kick out when his old man is mentioned on a national broadcast. How many World War II-era QBs are still getting air time in the 21st century?

In our series, we wrote about Bill Wade, who won that 1963 championship, and Bobby Douglas, who could have been special. We covered Vince Evans, the team's first black starting quarterback, and his replacement, Bears' first punky QB Jim McMahon.

We analyzed the Rick Mirror trade and what Jay Cutler's backups think of him. We've compiled all of the best games from Bears QBs and a condensed account of the worst. We asked former center Olin Grudge to name all the quarterbacks he's sacked.

It was a trip down memory lane that no one asked for.

When longtime Bears fans (predating the Mike Ditka years) talk about the old days, they bring up Ed Brown and Rudy Bukich, Jack Concannon and Bob Avelini with nostalgia.

From left, Johnny Lujack, Sid Luckman and Bobby Lane pose during the best times for Bears QBs in 1948. (Associated Press)

As far as I'm concerned, I'll never forget a Steelers fan being punished for covering the Bears for an unknown sin, an old Todd Collins trying to win a game in Carolina, or Mike Glennon trying to convince us he was going to start. A whole season of new Trubisky. I was there when a press box laughed at Jonathan Quinn and when a Bears executive fired a stat sheet against the wall after a Cutler interception. I tried to understand everything.

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One could argue that the company's “QB or Bust” era began in 2009 when GM Jerry Angelo traded for Cutler. In the 15 seasons that followed, the Bears had three franchise quarterbacks, three winning seasons and three playoff appearances. Their record over that span is 107-136, which equates to a .440 winning percentage.

Cutler, Trubisky, Fields. Everyone had so much energy. Everyone had their moments. Cutler holds the record for most passes by the Bears. Trubisky showed early promise. Fields captured our imaginations. Their intertwined legacies will be the arguments they incite as the Bears quarterbacks of the Twitter age.

Now here comes Williams, the new contender to be the Orange and Blue savior of the founding franchise.

While trading Fields is a no-brainer for GM Ryan Poles, who will make way to develop Williams, there are concerns. Rightly or wrongly, unnamed NFL coaches and football analysts trying to make a name for themselves raised questions about Williams' makeup, his personality and, most importantly, how his improvisational style would look in a league. High-flying college stars.

And it wasn't just the quarterbacks that the Bears failed. The bears missed them. Poor training, organizational dysfunction, inappropriate deadlines, poor lists. It takes a village to destroy a quarterback. With that in mind, are the Bears set up to succeed with Williams? as AthleticWritten by Bruce Feldman and Kevin Fishbein, there are questions.

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Over the past 15 years, the group's endless quandaries have dominated peer conversations. The tone of those discussions ranged from delusional to unpleasant. The cycle of hope, truth, despair and change remains unbroken.

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But maybe Williams is the guy to change that. There are signs. Although the Bears traded draft picks to acquire Cutler, Trubisky and Fields, weakening the roster, this time, Boles is drafting Williams with the pick he gained from a savvy trade. Maybe it was an omen.

I don't feel any of the three are truly comfortable in their position. Beyond their individual characteristics, I believe the complacency was due to their lack of success. Cutler had two winning seasons (his coach, Lovie Smith, was fired after the second), Trubisky had one, and Fields … not even close.

Being the Bears QB is not for the sensitive or thin-skinned. It carries the weight of expectations and the burden of this team's long, unhappy history.

Williams seemingly has the personality to rise to the challenge and the physical skills to succeed. But that's just talk now. It doesn't feel real until we see it.

For the Bears to win again, Williams will need to be the guy they've been dreaming of since the Luckman, Lujack and Laine eras. quarter-final and victory. It's about the NFL. Everything else is just background noise.

(Photo of coach Matt Nagy talking with Mitch Trubisky in 2018: Patrick Gorski/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

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