My take on the maddening QB problems in Chicago by Ben Wayer
If you watched a Chicago Bears game this year, you saw two graphics pop up and talked about ad nauseum.
The first graphic I’m referring to is the insane amount of quarterbacks the Bears have had under center, while their opponents typically only had three or so in the same timeframe.
The other graphic, and the bane of Bears fans’ existence, is the graphic comparing Mitchell Trubisky to Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. The Bears have had, and still have a problem at quarterback, the fans know it, opposing fans know it, and, despite how they act, the organization even knows it. Please Fox and CBS, stop rubbing our noses in it. But how bad is the issue? What can be done to fix it? Lastly, who is to blame?
To start breaking down this issue, let’s break down those graphics. Now, I’m not a Trubisky fan in the slightest. In fact, I rarely refer to him by his real name. But in his defense, and the Bears‘ defense, Mahomes was as much of a risky pick as Trubisky was at the time. While Mahomes has paid off right now and Trubisky, especially this season, hasn’t, I get the comparison, and honestly can’t be too upset about it.
But when I saw the Bears making all those moves to swap draft spots with the Niners, who also needed a QB, I was buzzing with excitement. I was SURE Deshaun Watson was bound for Chicago. Needless to say things were said in front of my TV that would make a sailor blush. The revelation this year that, then coach, John Fox, of all people, actually wanted to take Watson in that draft, kicked up the frustration even more. Possibly the most frustrating piece in all of this, aside from his inability to throw an accurate deep ball (which I’ll talk about more) is that he has all the other pieces that make Watson and Mahomes such stars. He’s not afraid to leave the pocket and run for a gain, or even just move outside the pocket to make a throw. Due to the star power, and the insane numbers, of the other two men that were both passed on by the Bears, the comparisons are inevitable, and will continue to be. That, however, doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Now to break down the graphic which features some 14 or so former Bears Quarterbacks. Jay Cutler was by far the best and longest tenured Bears QB featured. While he was acquired via trade, some, like Cade McNown, ‘Sexy’ Rex Grossman, and Kyle Orton, were drafted. For some reason, the Bears are historically, and hilariously, bad at evaluating quarterback talent. And, let’s face it, while the QB combo of Sexy Rexy and Kyle Orton ran the offense of the Super Bowl XLI team, they got there on the backs of an amazing defense, and the most electric return man in NFL history, Devin Hester.
Now, back to the longest tenured Bears QB in recent history, Jay Cutler. His struggles were due to a lack of weapons, several different coaches and offensive coordinators, and a porous offensive line. So what are the causes of Trubisky’s struggles? I’m willing to ignore his starts under Fox his rookie year, and his second season he actually had a fair amount of success, leading the Bears to an NFC North title and a Pro Bowl appearance of his own.
So what happened this year? First, Head Coach Matt Nagy, for some reason, didn’t trust his run game at all and forced Trubisky to pass incredibly too often. Second, Nagy tried to make Mitchell Trubisky a pocket passer, something he simply doesn’t have the arm to accomplish. Add to that his inability to put any type of touch on a pass longer than 15 yards, and certainly not outside the numbers. Finally, let’s face it, Trubisky has to know that his performance will likely determine the fate of three men’s jobs: His own, Matt Nagy’s, and likely that of General Manager, Ryan Pace.
If his weaknesses are so obvious to me, surely the management can see the issues as well, right? Well, at their end of season press conference, Coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace fielded several questions about the team, however, when asked about the quarterback situation both men agreed that Trubisky is for sure their guy going forward, going as far as to say, and I’m paraphrasing, ’there will be no competition, he’s our guy.’
If that’s the case, Trubisky has to perform, otherwise all three men are on the hot seat. The cap and draft pick situation all have ties to Trubisky, but the whole body of it is a much larger issue. Pace’s inability to admit, or pure ignorance of, his mistakes is dangerous. The Bears are cap strapped, and don’t have a first, third, or fourth round pick in the upcoming draft (they have 2 in the second) due to that infamous trade for the Trubisky pick, and the trades for Khalil Mack and for the draft pick that got them David Montgomery. It’s pretty easy to see the pressure is about to be insurmountable in Chicago if they have another 8-8 season.
To me the solution is simple, sign a high quality QB Freegent. Now if Nagy and Pace are being honest and truly believe that Trubisky is the guy and there will be no competition for the starting job, the only thing that prevents current backup Chase Daniel from being resigned is if he wants to retire, otherwise the the market is way too hot to be ignored. Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Tom Brady, and even Philip Rivers all will be available. Obviously Brady is completely out of the question as a guy you bring in for a QB competition, but why not bring one of the other guys in? Worst case scenario, they force Trubisky to elevate his play to the point where he’s an obvious choice to start to God and everyone, and you have them eating up cap space as a backup. And if he starts performing to the standard of a number 2 overall pick, can it really be considered a “worst case” scenario? Best case, if or when Trubisky gets hurt next season, you know exactly what you’re going to get coming off the bench: a starting caliber QB who just might be able to steal a job. When you think about moves the Bears need to make this off season, that one has to be near the top, if not at the top.
Through no fault of his own, Mitch Trubisky was drafted way too high. Even if he had been drafted at 3, the spot the Bears had before trading up ONE WHOLE SPOT, he still would have been drafted too high. That’s not to say that if he had been a second or third round pick that he wouldn‘t still be on the hot seat, he would, but how much of it is really his fault? The Bears strength is not at Quarterback, as a Bears fan, I’ve given up hope that it ever will be, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a glaring weakness. If the Bears play old school football, lean on the run game, pass sparingly, and stop with the weekly trick plays, they might be able to buy time for Trubisky to improve.