Bears

Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...

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Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...

Thoughts that occur watching conference championship games

If the Ravens put their franchise tag (not the exclusive-rights one) on Joe Flacco, would you consider giving up the No. 1s for him and cutting your losses with Jay Cutler?

The Bears gave up two No. 1s for Cutler, whod never been to the playoffs, so what do you trade for a quarterback who beat Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in this postseason alone and has never not been in the playoffs?

MORE: Ravens, Niners headed to the Super Bowl

GM Phil Emery wont make that deal; hes already without a third-round pick because of the Brandon Marshall trade. And the Ravens know what theyve got with Flacco.

But neither Emery nor Marc Trestman have skin the Jay Cutler game. So

Overrating weapons

Matt Ryan did not get any further with Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White than Jay Cutler did with Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. When you are guilty of an interception and unforced fumble within 20 minutes of a Super Bowl, its not about weapons; its about the plays you make or dont make when it matters

Dont forget Matt Forte in 2013

Three of the final four teams ranked in the top 11 for rushing (San Francisco 2nd, New England 7th, Baltimore 11th). Atlanta had some success but could not hold a 17-0 lead and were out-rushed 148-81

Accuracy wins

Colin Kaepernik completed 76.2 percent of his passes (none to the Falcons). Matt Ryan completed 71.4 percent of his (one to the 49ers). The difference may not seem significant except that in virtually every game of the postseason, the team with the most accurate quarterback won. Add in a running game and you have the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl instead of the Atlanta Falcons.

And up in Foxboro, Joe Flacco flat out-played Tom Brady and is going to the Super Bowl he would have been to last season if Lee Evans catches a pass

Will Trestman change Cutler?

Staying with the accuracy theme and applying it to the Bears and Jay Cutler:

A major positive for Marc Trestman was the names of quarterbacks on his resume: Rich Gannon, Bernie Kosar, Steve Young in particular. But a valid question to consider is just how much Trestman improved the play of his quarterbacks, since Trestman and QB coach Matt Cavanaugh getting more from Jay Cutler is a franchise directive.

RELATED: Cavanaugh hired as quarterback coach

Teams with Trestman on staff and handling quarterbacks frequently reached playoffs. But Gannons first two Oakland seasons with Trestman were the two most accurate of his career. His two with Trestman in Minnesota were decidedly pedestrian despite having Anthony Carter and Cris Carter as his receivers.

Youngs two seasons with Trestman were very good but neither were as good as the 1994 season before Trestman or 1997 after Trestman. Bernie Kosar had a Pro Bowl 1987 with Cleveland but 1988 was right about Kosars career averages for passer rating, completion percentage, etc. as he lost some time to injuries.

A quick look at the quarterbacks at Trestmans various NFL stops:

Quarterback (Team)
YearComp.
Steve DeBerg (Tampa Bay)
198757.8Bernie Kosar (Cleveland)
198860.2198959.1
Rich Gannon (Minnesota)
199052.1199159.6Steve Young (San Francisco)
199566.9199667.7Scott Mitchell (Detroit)
199757.6Jake Plummer (Arizona)
199859.2199952.8200056.8Rich Gannon
200165.6200267.6200355.6

Conclusion:

Check back in October or November. Trestman and Cavanaugh have a seven-year NFL quarterback on their hands. How much they can alter his course likely comes down to how much Cutler buys into the ways of coaches who may not necessarily create great quarterbacks but certainly know what those look like.

MORE: Trestman's GPS has the Bears en route

Tightening up

The Bears need dramatically more at tight end over what Kellen Davis, Evan Rodriguez (as a fullback) and Matt Spaeth gave them. Baltimores Dennis Pitta is expected to be an unrestricted free agent, but the draft is an option for savvy talent evaluators.

Pitta and New Englands Aaron Gonzalez, like Rodriguez, were fourth-round draft choices.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: