Dak Prescott

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.

2017 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

2017 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

On Wednesday's edition of the Fantasy Football Fix Podcast, the guys unveiled their positional rankings for the 2017 season.

Listen to our Podcast for more in-depth analysis and take a look at the full rankings from Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Glynn Morgan below.

Andracki's positional rankings

QBs

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Drew Brees
3. Tom Brady
4. Marcus Mariota
5. Jameis Winston
6. Andrew Luck
7. Russell Wilson
8. Cam Newton
9. Kirk Cousins
10. Matt Ryan
11. Derek Carr
12. Ben Roethlisberger
13. Matthew Stafford
14. Philip Rivers
15. Dak Prescott
16. Tyrod Taylor
17. Eli Manning
18. Carson Palmer
19. Blake Bortles
20. Jay Cutler

Analysis: I could see any of the guys I ranked 1-6 ending the season at the top fantasy quarterback. Mariota and Winston are absolutely ascending, but in reality, this quarterback class this year is SO deep. I would be perfectly happy with my 15th (Prescott) or 17th (Manning) QBs being my only gunslinger on my team. 

This is proof you should draft QBs late and there's rarely any need for two on your fantasy roster. 

The other thing worth noting: Roethlisberger is not — and should not be considered — an elite option any longer. Over the last three seasons, his home/road splits are real and they're awful:

Home: 59 TD, 16 INT
Road: 23 TD, 22 INT

He's nothing more than a spot starter at this point in his career, but when he is playing in Pittsburgh, there's hardly anybody better.

RBs

1. David Johnson
2. Le'Veon Bell
3. Ezekiel Elliott
4. Jordan Howard
5. Jay Ajayi
6. Melvin Gordon
7. Devonta Freeman
8. Lamar Miller
9. LeSean McCoy
10. DeMarco Murray
11. Todd Gurley
12. Ty Montgomery
13. Mark Ingram
14. Tevin Coleman
15. Leonard Fournette
16. Christian McCaffrey
17. C.J. Anderson
18. Isaiah Crowell
19. Dalvin Cook
20. Bilal Powell
21. Duke Johnson
22. Paul Perkins
23. C.J. Prosise
24. LeGarrette Blount
25. Mike Gillislee
26. Danny Woodhead
27. Theo Riddick
28. Spencer Ware
29. Jonathan Stewart
30. James White
31. Derrick Henry
32. Doug Martin
33. Eddie Lacy
34. Carlos Hyde
35. Ameer Abdullah
36. Matt Forte
37. Frank Gore
38. Jeremy Hill
39. Gio Bernard
40. Latavius Murray

Take these 40 and add a bunch of late-round flyers on guys like Zach Zenner, Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson Joe Mixon, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Dion Lewis, Charles Sims, Darren Sproles, Kareem Hunt, Marlon Mack, Joe Williams, Jamaal Charles.

Analysis: For me, there are the top three backs (Johnson, Bell, Elliott) and then a major drop-off. There are serious question marks around every guy and most teams have two or three capable options that could make an impact, especially in PPR leagues.

Could make the case that anybody from 15-40 could be interchanged in my rankings and anybody from that list of flyers can bump into the 25-40 range. That's how finicky RBs are in 2017.

That being said, I'm really high on Howard and waiting for McCoy and Murray to just fall off a cliff, as I explain in the podcast.

WRs

1. Antonio Brown
2. Odell Beckham
3. Julio Jones
4. Mike Evans
5. A.J. Green
6. Jordy Nelson
7. Michael Thomas
8. T.Y. Hilton
9. Dez Bryant
10. Brandin Cooks
11. Jarvis Landry
12. Keenan Allen
13. Amari Cooper
14. Allen Robinson
15. Doug Baldwin 
16. DeAndre Hopkins
17. Demaryius Thomas
18. Alshon Jeffery
19. Jamison Crowder
20. Julian Edelman
21. Terrelle Pryor
22. Golden Tate
23. Willie Snead
24. Larry Fitzgerald
25. John Brown
26. Cam Meredith
27. Martavis Bryant
28. DeVante Parker
29. Eric Decker
30. Donte Moncrief
31. Rishard Matthews
32. Michael Crabtree
33. Brandon Marshall
34. Tyreek Hill
35. Jordan Matthews
36. Davante Adams
37. Randall Cobb
38. Pierre Garcon
39. Emmanuel Sanders
40. Corey Coleman
41. Sammy Watkins
42. Stefon Diggs
43. Kelvin Benjamin
44. Corey Davis
45. Sterling Shepard
46. Kevin White
47. Tyler Lockett
48. Phillip Dorsett
49. Malcolm Mitchell
50. Adam Thielen
51. Jeremy Maclin
52. Breshad Perriman
53. Tyrell Williams
54. Allen Hurns
55. Tavon Austin
56. Taylor Gabriel
57. J.J. Nelson
58. Cole Beasley
59. Josh Doctson
60. John Ross
61. DeSean Jackson
62. Mike Williams
63. Eli Rogers
64. Kenny Britt
65. Mike Wallace
66. Marvin Jones
67. Robby Anderson
68. Travis Benjamin
69. Robert Woods
70. Chris Hogan

LATE-ROUND SLEEPERS

Cooper Kupp
Kenny Golladay
Tanner Gentry
Marqise Lee
Laquon Treadwell
Zay Jones

Analysis: It's the Top 10 for me then some serious question marks, though I do love me some Jarvis Landry. I'd be happy with anybody from 11-40 as my Nos. 2/3/4 WRs and there are plenty of upside guys to be had late in the draft.

It's a deep position group this year, but my plan in drafts is to strongly target one of the Top 10 guys, as I'd rather bet my early-round picks on the more-stable WRs as opposed to the scary/iffy RB crop.

Can we dispel the notion that Sammy Watkins is an elite receiver? Dude is far from it. He can't stay healthy and he's one of the more inconsistent wideouts in fantasy, with nearly half of his career games (18 out of 37) finishing with fewer than 9 fantasy points, even in full point PPR leagues.

TEs

1. Rob Gronkowski
2. Travis Kelce
3. Jordan Reed
4. Greg Olsen
5. Tyler Eifert
6. Jimmy Graham
7. Kyle Rudolph
8. Delanie Walker
9. Eric Ebron
10. Hunter Henry
11. Zach Ertz
12. Martellus Bennett
13. Austin Hoooper
14. Jack Doyle
15. Coby Fleener
16. Julius Thomas
17. Jason Witten
18. C.J. Fiedorowicz
19. Cameron Brate
20. O.J. Howard

SLEEPERS

David Njoku
Evan Engram
Maxx Williams
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 
Adam Shaheen
Clive Walford

Analysis: Gronk's inability to stay healthy bumps him out of the first round, in my eyes. He's also no longer putting up the per-game production way above the rest of the position now that Kelce is finding the endzone and Reed/Olsen are gigantic parts of their team's offense. 

Ebron and Henry could be solid value late in drafts and Bennett has proved he has something left in the tank, plus he's just joined up with the best QB in the league in Aaron Rodgers. Don't sleep on Cameron Brate, even with O.J. Howard in town.

Krinch's positional rankings

QUARTERBACK

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB)
2. Drew Brees (NO)
3. Tom Brady (NE)
4. Andrew Luck (IND)
5. Marcus Mariota (TEN)
6. Russell Wilson (SEA)
7. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
8. Cam Newton (CAR)
9. Matt Ryan (ATL)
10. Derek Carr (OAK)
11. Jameis Winston (TB)
12. Kirk Cousins (WSH)
13. Philip Rivers (LAC)
14. Eli Manning (NYG)
15. Andy Dalton (CIN)
16. Dak Prescott (DAL)
17. Matt Stafford (DET)
18. Carson Palmer (ARI)
19. Blake Bortles (JAX)
20. Tyrod Taylor (BUF)

RUNNING BACK

1. LeVeon Bell (PIT)
2. David Johnson (ARI)
3. Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
4. LeSean McCoy (BUF)
5. Jordan Howard (CHI)
6. Melvin Gordon (LAC)
7. Devonta Freeman (ATL)
8. DeMarco Murray (TEN)
9. Jay Ajayi (MIA)
10. Todd Gurley (LAR)
11. Lamar Miller (HOU)
12. Dalvin Cook (MIN)
13. Mark Ingram (NO)
14. Isaiah Crowell (CLE)
15. Marshawn Lynch (OAK)
16. Leonard Fournette (JAX)
17. Bilal Powell (NYJ)
18. C.J. Anderson (DEN)
19. Paul Perkins (NYG)
20. Ty Montgomery (GB)
21. Spencer Ware (KC)
22. Tevin Coleman (ATL)
23. Frank Gore (IND)
24. Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
25. Ameer Abdullah (DET)
26. LeGarrette Blount (PHI)
27. Doug Martin (TB)
28. Eddie Lacy (SEA)
29. Mike Gillislee (NE)
30. Carlos Hyde (SF)
31. Danny Woodhead (BAL)
32. Joe Mixon (CIN)
33. Matt Forte (NYJ)
34. Adrian Peterson (NO)
35. Jonathan Stewart (CAR)
36. Samaje Perine (WSH)
37. C.J. Prosise (SEA)
38. Kareem Hunt (KC)
39. Marlon Mack (IND)
40. Darren Sproles (PHI)

WIDE RECEIVER

1. Antonio Brown (PIT)
2. Julio Jones (ATL)
3. Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)
4. Mike Evans (TB)
5. Jordy Nelson (GB)
6. A.J. Green (CIN)
7. Michael Thomas (NO)
8. Dez Bryant (DAL)
9. T.Y. Hilton (IND)
10. Brandin Cooks (NE)
11. Doug Baldwin (SEA)
12. DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
13. Amari Cooper (OAK)
14. Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
15. Terrelle Pryor (WSH)
16. Allen Robinson (JAX)
17. Keenan Allen (LAC)
18. Alshon Jeffery (PHI)
19. Jarvis Landry (MIA)
20. Tyreek Hill (KC)
21. Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)
22. Davante Adams (GB)
23. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
24. Julian Edelman (NE)
25. Cameron Meredith (CHI)
26. Martavis Bryant (PIT)
27. Pierre Garcon (SF)
28. Michael Crabtree (OAK)
29. Eric Decker (TEN)
30. DeSean Jackson (TB)
31. Jamison Crowder (WSH)
32. Kenny Britt (CLE)
33. Golden Tate (DET)
34. Brandon Marshall (NYG)
35. Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)
36. Stefon Diggs (MIN)
37. Tyrell Williams (LAC)
38. Devante Parker (MIA)
39. Jeremy Maclin (BAL)
40. John Brown (ARI)
41. Willie Snead (NO)
42. Zay Jones (BUF)
43. Jordan Matthews (PHI)
44. Corey Coleman (CLE)
45. Marvin Jones (DET)
46. Sterling Shepard (NYG)
47. Rishard Matthews (TEN)
48. Sammy Watkins (BUF)
49. Randall Cobb (GB)
50. Mike Wallace (BAL)
51. Donte Moncrief (IND)
52. Adam Thielen (MIN)
53. Chris Hogan (NE)
54. Kevin White (CHI)
55. Robert Woods (BUF)
56. Corey Davis (TEN)
57. Malcolm Mitchell (NE)
58. Taylor Gabriel (ATL)
59. Tyler Lockett (SEA)
60. Allen Hurns (JAX)
61. Tajh Boyd (CIN)
62. Kenny Stills (MIA)
63. Breshad Perriman (BAL)
64. Tavon Austin (LAR)
65. Robby Anderson (NYJ)
66. Mohamed Sanu (ATL)
67. Josh Doctson (WSH)
68. Devin Funchess (CAR)
69. Kenny Golladay (DET)
70. Ted Ginn (NO)

TIGHT END

1. Rob Gronkowski (NE)
2. Travis Kelce (KC)
3. Greg Olsen (CAR)
4. Jordan Reed (WSH)
5. Tyler Eifert (CIN)
6. Delanie Walker (TEN)
7. Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
8. Zach Ertz (PHI)
9. Martellus Bennett (GB)
10. Jack Doyle (IND)
11. Jimmy Graham (SEA)
12. Hunter Henry (LAC)
13. Eric Ebron (DET)
14. C.J. Fiedorowicz (HOU)
15. Julius Thomas (MIA)
16. Coby Fleener (NO)
17. Charles Clay (BUF)
18. Evan Engram (NYG)
19. Jason Witten (DAL)
20. Cameron Brate (TB)

Morgan's positional rankings

Running backs

David Johnson 
Le’Veon Bell
Ezekiel Elliott
Devonta Freeman
LeSean McCoy
Jay Ajayi
Todd Gurley
Lamar Miller
Leonard Fournette
Melvin Gordon
DeMarco Murray
Jordan Howard
Dalvin Cook
Joe Mixon
Isaiah Crowell

Wide receivers

Antonio Brown
Odell Beckham
Julio Jones
Jordy Nelson
Michaell Thomas
Mike Evans
Deandre Hopkins
A.J. Green
T.Y. Hilton
Doug Baldwin
Amari  Cooper
Dez Bryant
Jarvis Landry
Allen Robinson
Brandin Cooks

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Matt Ryan
Jameis Winston
Ben Roethlisberger
Derek Carr
Eli Manning
Matt Stafford
Andy Dalton
Kirk Cousins
Russell Wilson
Philip Rivers
Andrew Luck
Marcus Mariota

Tight end

Travis Kelce
Rob Gronkowski
Greg Olsen
Jimmy Graham
Jordan Reed
Hunter Henry
Evan Engram
Kyle Rudolph
Delanie Walker
Zach Ertz
Colby Fleener
Martellus Bennett
Jack Doyle
Eric Ebron
Tyler Eifert

Mark Sanchez on fast food runs, shutting up and policing a QB controversy

Mark Sanchez on fast food runs, shutting up and policing a QB controversy

When the Bears signed Mark Sanchez March 24, some fans panicked that it meant Ryan Pace would avoid selecting a quarterback for a third straight draft. And when Pace boldly (or, stupidly, to some) traded up a spot to second overall to secure Mitch Trubisky for the future, those critics emerged, too. 

Sanchez signed as Mike Glennon's backup, and according to Pace Wednesday, that's still what he is. For the former fifth overall pick of the Jets, starting would be great. But he's only done that ten times over the past four years after starting all but two games in his first four seasons under the media microscope in New York.

"I thought this team was on an upper trend and it'd be great to help somebody like Mike," Sanchez said Thursday in his first interview with Chicago reporters. "I know they went through a serious injury bug last year and a lot of guys would be getting healthy."

The man is only 30, and things were never better professionally than in his fresh-faced, first two NFL seasons, helping the Jets win two playoff road games in both 2009 and 2010 (including one at New England) before getting knocked out in AFC Championship games on the road. Now, he's not considered a starter, unless it's an emergency.

"It has been a different role, and adjusting your perspective is not always easy, but that's the mental side of this game and that's why I love playing it, no matter what," Sanchez said. "I wanna be competing my butt off in practice, and then pushing the starter as much as I can."

With Tony Romo hurt yet again in Dallas last year, Sanchez was picked up as insurance by the Cowboys after the Broncos decided to go with two other young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, following Peyton Manning's retirement. But fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott's performance kept him on the field and Sanchez in a mentor role. Just as he will be with Glennon and Trubisky.

"Whatever it takes to win," Sanchez said. "And if that means getting him ready to play, and if that's what the role is, which is what it looks like here, then I'll push Mike, get ready to play myself and make sure he's ready to go in. It's been exciting working with him, because he can really play. I think he's a special player. He's decisive, he's got great feet for a big guy, and he can make all the throws so I'm excited to see how well he does."

Sanchez was Prescott in 2009, being chosen as a rookie over veteran options on a contending team.

"I had Kellen Clemens, Kevin O'Connell and Mark Brunell," Sanchez said of his NFL baptism under fire. "And all three of them, my first couple years, were amazing guys. Whether it was body language, footwork, where to live, where to eat, anything, you name it. We got so close. That kind of stuff transcends football when you get close off the field like we did those first couple of years, things take off. That kind of stuff I learned right away. We're still building that here."

There's no telling the degree of influence Sanchez may have had on Prescott's success. He arrived in Dallas late (after opening last preseason with a long touchdown pass to Demaryious Thomas at Soldier Field), too. But he hopes the NFL life lessons he'd been through, from winning, to butt-fumbling, to being cut, will help Glennon and Trubisky as he hope it did with Dak.

"That was a heckuva run," he said. "When you look at these teams, especially heading into year nine, you know from the first practice what you have, what you're searching for, what guys lead, what guys follow. You can feel it right away.

"It's a young team, but the emphasis is for the veterans to help push guys. Speaking from a number two role, I have to push Mike with everything I see. I had the conversation with Dak last year, 'Hey, I'll tell you everything I know, I'll push you as hard as a I can. But if at any point, you need me to turn it off, I'll do that. I'll shut up and won't say a word.' That's the same relationship I have with Mike and I'm pushing him hard, helping him compete, and I think he's gonna do really well.

"The best compliment you can give a rookie is not have to tell him to shut up," the USC product said of the seniority pecking order. "Just keep your head down and work, and that's really been his mentality. That's huge. And that's not easy, especially coming from where (Trubisky's) come from. The status you build as a college player... then a team trades up to get you, all those things, you start to believe all that.

"I remember getting ready to fly to divisional games, championship games, and two hours before the plane takes off I'm going to like, three different places. Popeyes Chicken, Quiznos, and I'm thinking, 'Geez, this is crazy.' But there's Brunell and Kellen Clemens saying, 'Just keep your mouth shut.  Do it or it'll be worse.' But (Trubisky's) done a great job. He's worked hard, doesn't say much and doesn't need to. Just keep working, keep learning, playing hard."

And despite his own desire to play, he won't fan the flames for change when Glennon has a bad practice, series or game. All four quarterbacks (including Connor Shaw) are ready to accept and follow the gameplan that's in place for the most scrutinized position in sports.

"There's no chance that happens here," Sanchez said of a divided room. "It's been defined clearly, and that's what you need. It's already been addressed by Ryan Pace, by Coach (John Fox), and you can't say it enough. You guys (the media) have a job to do, and I totally understand how papers sell, and some don't. Certain quotes, certain headlines, I've been around a bit, so I know. But we're not gonna have that issue because Mike's gonna play his butt off. If anything happens, I'll be ready. Mitch is gonna be ready. We have a great room so, I like where we're at and I like where we're headed."