Andrew Luck

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

All of the Mitch Truisky expectation qualifiers have been installed — no magic wand for the offense, only 13 college starts, not out of a pro-style system at North Carolina, and so on and so on. But irrespective of any pressure on the job statuses of GM Ryan Pace or coach John Fox, the expectations of the rookie quarterback over the next season-and-a-half or so should be more, far more, not less.

The reason lies in one of those things that run counter to most conventional-wisdom assumptions about quarterbacking in the NFL. The Bears hope, in the deepest corners of the franchise, that it continues.

That “it” is the strong — as in “near”- or actual “playoff-grade” — play of quarterbacks within their first three and often fewer seasons, a time frame which was once the norm and still is arguably preferred. Aaron Rodgers sat several years behind Brett Favre after arriving as the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 draft choice in 2005 (20 picks after the Bears had grabbed Cedric Benson), and “I was very thankful for the opportunity, now as I look back, to grow,” Rodgers said before the Bears game this year.

But in an era when defenses have become increasingly sophisticated, and numbers of top college quarterbacks are coming out of spread offenses and systems far from “pro style,” quarterbacks have had positive impacts with increasing suddenness.

Consider some case studies from the last several years:

Player | Team | Drafted | Result

Teddy Bridgewater | Vikings | 2014 | 2015 NFC North champions

Jared Goff | Rams | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC West, current No. 3-ranked passer in 2017

Robert Griffin III | Redskins | 2012 | NFC East champions, rookie season

Andrew Luck | Colts | 2012 | Playoffs first 3 seasons

Dak Prescott | Cowboys | 2016 | NFC East champions in 2016

Carson Wentz | Eagles | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC East

Jameis Winston | Bucs | 2015 | 2-14 Bucs in 2014 were 6-10 in 2015 and 9-7 last season

Success is far from automatic, and to some extent lies in the eye of the beholder and has a time element. “Everybody was calling Goff a bust sometimes last season,” said Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, now with his hand on the Trubisky steering wheel and throttle. “And the teams around the guys are obviously enormous factors.”

To wit: Goff went No. 1 overall, usually a spot belonging to the most woeful team from the previous year. But he went to a Rams team coming off a 7-9 season that dumped its draft to move up from 15th for him. Likewise, Wentz went to a 7-9 team (Philadelphia) that traded up. These weren’t Peyton Manning going to 3-13 Indianapolis and Ryan Leaf to 4-12 San Diego (1998).

But Luck was the No. 1-overall pick by an Indianapolis team that went 3-13 in 2011, then 11-5 in Luck’s first year. Washington was 5-11 in 2011, then 10-6 and NFC East champions in RGIII’s rookie season.

Trubisky has gone to a 3-13 team, one with among the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL. On the other hand, after Troy Brown, name two other New England Patriots wide receivers from their early Super Bowls.

Note to the rookie: It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools (see: Jay Cutler).

And Tom Brady had started zero games and thrown all of 3 passes, 2 incomplete, as a rookie backup on a 5-11 Patriots team in 2000 before starting in relief of Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

But the game and the players, particularly the quarterbacks have changed.

“In 2005, I don’t think the quarterbacks were as ready to play as maybe some of the guys are now,” Rodgers said. “There’s better coaching, better awareness, there’s better coaching at a younger level. If you’re not in a ‘raise-you-foot-up, look-the-sideline, let-the-coach-call-the-play offense,’ you’re doing some more stuff now at the college level.”

All the Bears ask is for Trubisky to do more stuff now at the NFL level.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

Can we hop in a time machine and go back to Labor Day Weekend? The NFL season is moving way too fast, and that ain't cool.

We'll try our best to wash away the tears and help you with your lineups.

If you have any questions, hit us up on @CSNFantasy and tune in to our weekly Fantasy Fix Facebook Live shows every Thursday.

Let's get right into the Week 6 Start/Sit and as always, Liam Neeson has a message for you:

START

Sammie Coates, WR, PIT (@ MIA) - If you were lucky enough to grab Coates off waivers, you're in for a real treat down the stretch. Coates has emerged as the No. 2 wideout in Pittsburgh's offense and is arguably the most explosive player in the NFL with six 40-yard-plus plays this season. Look for more of the same when Coates squares off with a Dolphins defense allowing an average of 32.1 points per game to opposing wide receivers. (Scott Krinch)

Brian Hoyer, QB, CHI, (vs. JAX) - It's time to stop being so cautious with Hoyer. He continues to prove why he needs to be in your lineups. Despite not playing in the first two games of the season, Hoyer is already the 16th ranked fantasy quarterback and has thrown for over 300 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in three consecutive games. Hoyer has another enticing matchup against the Jaguars — 10th most points allowed to QBs — and should be treated as a QB1 this weekend. (Krinch)

Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC (@ OAK) - Maclin has one of the more consistent workloads out there, earning at least 7 targets in every game in 2016 and in 9 of his last 10 games dating back to last season. The Raiders have been gashed by WRs consistently and sit as the worst defense against fantasy WRs. (Tony Andracki)

Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN (vs. CLE) - The Browns are a mess and among the easiest teams to pass on in the NFL. Mariota is coming of his best game of the season (4 total TDs) and he's a good bet to keep it going in Week 6. (Andracki)

Christine Michael, RB, SEA (vs. ATL) - Michael is now the guy in Seattle's backfield with only C.J. Spiller to fend off for carries. Michael, a Top 16 fantasy running back through five weeks, draws one of the league's worst run defenses (giving up three more fantasy points than the league average to running backs) this weekend. Look for the Seahawks to feed Michael early and often. (Krinch)

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SIT

Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL (@ SEA) - The Seahawks are phenomenal against the run — if it wasn't for garbage time, they wouldn't've allowed any rushing TDs or a 100-yard rusher this year. Coleman is coming off a big game, but he still has topped 8 carries just twice this season and while he has multiple catches each game, he's topped 50 receiving yards only twice. Devonta Freeman is just simply too much of a factor to play Coleman this week. (Andracki)

Matt Forte, RB, NYJ (@ ARI) - It's time to deal Forte while you still the can. The veteran running back, on the wrong side of 30, has accumulated only 17 fantasy points since his Week 2 outburst, and he's starting to lose carries to Bilal Powell. The Cardinals stout defense presents a tall task for Forte as they'll likely stack the box and force a struggling Jets passing game to beat them. (Krinch)

Will Fuller V, WR, HOU (vs. IND) - Fuller is boom or bust and is coming off a goose egg in non-PPR leagues. Indy, meanwhile, has not been anywhere near as bad on defense as everybody thought they'd be and while they were torched by Cameron Meredith last week, Fuller doesn't figure to be the same kind of possession receiver. If he doesn't break a big play, he very likely won't have a decent fantasy day. (Andracki)

Andrew Luck, QB, IND (@ HOU) - Wonder what happened the last time Luck went up against a Top 10 defense this season? He finished with 4 fantasy points. Luck has feasted on bottom 10 defenses in 2016 and the Texans defense is the exact opposite of that. Stay far away from him in Week 6. (Krinch)

Matt Ryan, QB, ATL (@ SEA) - I don't like the Falcons offense this week. The Seahawks have allowed only one TD through the air in 4 games, and an average of just 201 ypg. Ryan actually looked mortal in Week 5, throwing for only 1 TD pass. (Andracki)

Bears in desperate need of stacking wins

Bears in desperate need of stacking wins

The Bears answered one enormous character question in Week 4 with a win over the Detroit Lions, one that came after losing three straight to open this season and four out the last five to finish 2015. Point total (17), yardage gained (408), yardage allowed (263) — the specifics really weren’t important, good or bad.

The outcome and small things at crucial times in a game that wasn’t resolved until an onside kick was recovered in the final minutes were. Doubt can be an insidious invader of a locker room collectively and players individually, and every failure, even as players pointed the thumb rather than fingers, was going to build inevitable questions of game plans and other elements.

What the Bears found against Detroit was validation of foundation elements in their “program,” which can always come into question when any number of things don’t seem to be working. The Lions game was a “turnaround” of sorts, at the very least giving pause to a slide that threatened to take the 2016 season with it.

“When things don’t go in a flow, get a little rough, you’ve just got to find a way to lock in even tighter,” Bears left tackle Charles Leno said. “Study harder; practice harder, whatever it takes to get better and win, and that’s what we did [last] week, and I’m really proud of everybody.”

The win over Detroit loses virtually all of its luster if the Bears can’t build on it with a victory over a shaky Indianapolis Colts team, one that has started 1-3. But that will be a huge challenge even with the Colts struggling and coming off their London trip.

Two areas offer real intrigue, because they have significant implications for the remainder of the season. One is what Brian Hoyer has brought to the offense in relief of Jay Cutler — he is interception-free on all 97 of his passes — and the prospect of him retaining the job with continued solid performances. And that is precisely what a John Fox team is built upon offensively.

“[Detroit] wasn’t at all a great game but it was very efficient by all 11 guys that were on the field,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Ran the football well. Much better on third down. You take away the kneel-down, the 4-minute, I think we’re up around 45 percent [running plays], which is a huge improvement from where we have been. So it was very efficient.”

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The other is what the Bears defense is or could be. The handling of Matthew Stafford and the Lions bordered on startling if only because of how strong Stafford had been prior to last Sunday. The Bears have been so beset by costly injuries — Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Lamarr Houston — and the Dallas game was so bad that it may have obscured some growing positives.

“We’ve had three decent performances, one not-good performance,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “So I think they’re coming along. The revolving door at a lot of positions can set you back a lot, but guys have come in and done their jobs and we’ve played well as a unit.” 

And the winner is...

“View from the Moon” does not like the Bears playing Andrew Luck in Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck is 21-9 at home for his career, and even though the Bears knocked him around pretty good and defeated the Colts in their previous meeting, that was the quarterback’s first NFL game, and it was in Chicago, against a Lovie Smith defense that had Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher. None of those individuals are making this trip, unfortunately.

The Colts have had problems on the offensive line but the Bears are among the NFL’s worst pass rushes. Fangio schemed with coverages to confound Stafford and got a little pressure, but not enough to beat Luck, and rookie Leonard Floyd has yet to step past his myriad injuries to make the kind of impact usually associated with No. 9-overall picks.

The 2016 season has unfolded almost exactly as “View from the Moon” expected in its preseason analysis, with the only mis-call being the loss at home to Philadelphia Eagles (and who expected Carson Wentz and the Eagles to be this good?). For some reason “View” deviated from its preseason course and picked the Bears to defeat the Cowboys in Dallas. That error will not be repeated here.

Prediction: Colts 24, Bears 14

View from the Moon 2016 record: 2-2