Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff and preaching patience on Mitchell Trubisky

Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff and preaching patience on Mitchell Trubisky

Mitchell Trubisky will inevitably be compared to Deshaun Watson as the 2017 season — and his career — progresses. Watson is off to an eye-catching start to his pro career, leading the Houston Texans to a 57-14 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and looking every bit like the playmaker he was while leading Clemson to a College Football Playoff championship a year ago. 

But Watson’s strong start to his career doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be better than Trubisky, or that he’ll even have long-term success. What Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said last month about how long it takes young quarterbacks to establish themselves as being elite is relevant here:

“I think it takes a couple years,” Roethlisberger said on a conference call with Chicago media. “That’s why I’m always slow to send too much praise or anoint the next great quarterback after Year 1. I think people in the media and the ‘professionals’ in some of these big sports networks are so quick to anoint the next great one or say that they’re going to be great; this, that and the other. 

“Let’s wait and see what happens after two to three years, after defenses understand what you’re bringing (and) you’re not a surprise anymore. I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks. In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

The same line of thinking, then, goes for Trubisky: If he lights up the Minnesota Vikings in his NFL debut Monday night and plays well against the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints in October, it’ll be an encouraging beginning to his career, but not necessarily a guarantee he’ll be among the greats. 

That doesn’t mean the excitement should be muted if Trubisky immediately succeeds, especially for a franchise that hasn’t had a quarterback like him in a long time, maybe ever. But patience will be necessary in making long-term evaluations of Trubisky, even with expectations being high. 

“(Watson’s success) doesn’t put pressure on me,” Trubisky said. “Everyone has a different game and everyone has a different situation. That didn’t surprise me at all because I know what kind of player and person Deshaun is. The big stage isn’t going to faze him or myself. 

“So we’re in this new era where young quarterbacks are expected to come in and produce right away like veterans have. It’s a little different. But I think the type of players there are now coming out, they’re able to handle it.”

The Jared Goff question

Just as there should be some caution against rushing to judge a rookie quarterback as the next great one, there should be caution against labeling someone a bust after an ineffective first year. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is a perfect example here. 

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick put up dismal numbers while losing all seven starts he had as a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams. The worry was that brutal debut would irreparably mangle Goff’s confidence and make him a Jamarcus Russell or David Carr-esque bust. 

But the message inside the Rams’ locker room was that poor production wasn’t all Goff’s fault. 

“I would say that the situation with Jared Goff was kind of unfair to him because I feel like as a whole offense, we struggled,” running back Benny Cunningham, who played for the Rams last year, said in August. “As a quarterback, being drafted high, you take most of the criticism. But I feel like if the guys around him can help — that’s any quarterback — if the guys around you can execute and help, it makes your job a lot easier.”

The Rams, notably, acquired wide receivers Sammy Watkins (trade), Robert Woods (free agency) and Cooper Kupp (draft), tight end Gerald Everett (draft), center John Sullivan (free agency) and tackle Andrew Whitworth (free agency) between the end of the 2016 season and beginning of the 2017 one. And, crucially, 31-year-old first-year head coach Sean McVay was brought in to implement a fresh offensive system. 

Through four games, Goff leads the NFL in average yards per attempt (9.2), has completed two-thirds of his passes and has seven touchdowns against one interception. The Rams are 3-1 with one of the best offenses in the league a year after Goff quarterbacked one of the worst. These kinds of turnarounds can happen.

Ideally, the Bears won’t need that level of change around Trubisky in 2018 outside of adding a few pass-catching options for him. But if things don’t go as planned over these next 12 games, it’s not a given that Trubisky’s confidence — and chances of being the franchise-changing quarterback the Bears hope he can be — will be ruined. 

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 5 and beyond

deshaunwatsontexans.jpg
USA TODAY

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 5 and beyond

Dalvin Cook, Chris Carson, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota. The Grim Reaper came for some big names in Week 4.

And we're not really sure how Odell Beckham Jr. survived the Grim Reaper's scythe after looking at this picture.

I give this game everything I got. Ain't no way around it..

A post shared by Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) on

If your team went unscathed in Week 4, hats off to you. If it didn't, don't panic.

We've compiled a list of 10 players who should provide some help in Week 5 and beyond.

1.  Wayne Gallman, RB, NYG

Gallman was inactive for the first three games of 2017, but found himself suiting up for Week 4 and when Paul Perkins went down with injury, Gallman racked up 50 yards and a TD on 13 touches. Nobody has taken the Giants backfield and run with it yet and while it's possible this game was a flash-in-the-pan for the rookie Gallman, he's worth an add just in case. (Tony Andracki)

2. Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU

The rookie set the world on fire in Week 4 with a whopping 307 combined yards and 5 scores. Despite entering the season as the Texans backup to Tom Savage, Watson is already fantasy football's No. 6 quarterback. With his propensity to gain a large chunk of yards on the ground, Watson possesses one of the highest floors among QBs, and should easily be a weekly Top 10 fantasy signal-caller throughout the remainder of the 2017 season. (Scott Krinch)

3. Will Fuller, WR, HOU

Fuller is a big-play wide receiver who scored just 2 TDs in 14 games his rookie season. So of course he finally suits up in Week 4 after an injury and averages just 8.8 yards per catch and immediately finds the endzone twice. He should be up for more big plays in the future and with Watson taking the reins and running with it in the Houston offense, Fuller could be an excellent fantasy option in his sophomore campaign as opposing defense focus on not letting DeAndre Hopkins beat them. (Andracki)

4. Latavius Murray/Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN

A season-ending ACL injury to star rookie running back Dalvin Cook has now vaulted the Vikings backfield situation to one that the fantasy football community will keep close tabs on going forward. Following Cook's injury in Week 4, Murray out-snapped McKinnon 19/6. While Murray is nowhere near the caliber of player Cook is, he'll still slot in as the Vikings' early-down running back with McKinnon remaining in his role as a third/passing down specialist. Both players should be added to all fantasy rosters, but owners should take a wait-and-see approach when making the decision to insert them into their lineups. (Krinch)

5. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO

Kamara's time is officially here. After seeing only 20 touches in the first three games of the season, the third-round rookie touched the ball 15 times in New Orleans' Week 4 win with five rushes and 10 receptions, totaling 96 yards and a TD. He's clearly ahead of Adrian Peterson in the NO pecking order, but Kamara is also clearly the best pass-catching back in an offense that airs it out. Kamara has improved on his PPR fantasy point totals each week and there's no way he should be owned in only 19.7 percent of leagues. (Andracki)

6. Devin Funchess, WR, CAR

It looks like it's about time to start buying stock in the third-year wide receiver. Funchess had the best game of his career against the New England Patriots on Sunday, hauling in 7 passes for 70 yards and two scores. Funchess has 19 targets in his last two games and is starting to surpass Kelvin Benjamin as Cam Newton's go-to target with Greg Olsen sidelined. Funchess is a must add in all formats. (Krinch)

7. Mitch Trubisky, QB, CHI

If you're looking for a potential game-changer at quarterback, Trubisky probably isn't your guy. Not in his first NFL start in Week 5 against a tough Vikings defense. And not with a shaky supporting cast. But Trubisky could be a matchup play moving forward and provides a new wrinkle in the Bears offense with his mobility. He currently resides outside the Top 20 in terms of fantasy QBs, but his rushing potential alone could make him worthy of a roster spot in deep leagues. (Andracki)

8. Jaron Brown, WR, ARI

We've been waiting for a wide receiver to emerge as Larry Fitzgerald's Robin in Arizona, and if last week was any indication it appears that guy is Jaron Brown. Carson Palmer targeted Brown 12 times against the San Francisco 49ers, which was tops among Cardinals wideouts. If the targets weren't enough proof, Brown played in 95 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 4. On a pass-heavy team like the Cardinals who are without their top offensive weapon in David Johnson, Brown is suddenly a must-own player. (Krinch)

9. J.D. McKissic, RB, SEA

McKissic came from out of nowhere to score 2 TDs on five touches in Week 4 and is owned in just 0.2 percent of ESPN leagues. While that could be enough to warrant a roster spot, we wouldn't recommend wasting a waiver on him, even with Chris Carson nursing a broken ankle. McKissic was filling in for the injured C.J. Prosise and with the latter expected to suit up for Week 5, McKissic could wind back in the lands of fantasy obscurity. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy figure to handle Carson's workload until the rookie returns. (Andracki)

10. Evan Engram, TE, NYG

Engram is debunking the myth that rookie tight ends need time to adjust to the NFL. The Giants' 2017 first-round pick currently ranks first in targets (30) and receptions (19) and third in yards (200) among rookie tight ends through the first four weeks of the season since 2000. Engram has totaled 18 targets while registering 11 receptions for 107 yards throughout the last two weeks. Obviously he doesn't have the upside of somebody like Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, but Engram is starting to show he's a viable TE1 in a year where finding a serviceable tight end is like somebody at the White House convincing President Trump to delete the Twitter app from his phone. (Krinch)

Emptying the Week 2 notebook: ‘Human nature’ kicks in for Mike Glennon

Emptying the Week 2 notebook: ‘Human nature’ kicks in for Mike Glennon

TAMPA — Mike Glennon practiced against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first-team defense in 2016, so he has an idea of what second-year defensive coordinator Mike Smith may throw at the Bears offense on Sunday. 

What Glennon saw last year won’t be exactly what he’ll see at Raymond James Stadium this weekend, of course. But the concepts and key personnel — like defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and cornerback Brent Grimes — remain the same. 

“It’s little different when you break them down and start game-planning them than when you’re just going against them in practice,” Glennon said. “A lot of things look familiar, but they haven’t played a game yet so I have to be prepared for anything.”

This will be Glennon’s second start since the Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston with the first pick of the 2015 draft, so any edge he can get is important. He had one last week in facing an Atlanta Falcons team he was familiar with and did everything the Bears asked of him, for what it’s worth. 

Sunday, too, will mean a little more to Glennon as he returns to face the team that gave him his start in the NFL in 2013. 

“Obviously it counts the same, but it’s against the place I was for the past four years,” Glennon said. “(I have) a lot of friends, familiar faces on the other side, so I think it’s just human nature to be looking forward to this a little more just because of going against my former team.”

A positive step for Kyle Fuller

Back in April, declining Kyle Fuller’s fifth-year option was a no-brainer decision after the 2014 first-round pick didn’t play at all in 2016. But Fuller, now an impending free agent, could give the Bears something to think about next spring if how he played against Atlanta is any indication. 

Fuller and Marcus Cooper teamed up to limit Julio Jones to just four catches on five targets, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio came away impressed with how the 6-foot cornerback played. 

“I was pleased with the way Kyle played overall,” Fangio said. “There's obviously some plays he'd like to do over and play them a little better, but overall I thought he did a good job. I like where he's at right now.”

What the Bears do with Fuller when Prince Amukamara (ankle) makes his season debut is an interesting question. The prevailing thought when Fuller was drafted was that he had ideal size to be a slot corner, but Fangio didn’t use him there in 2015. Perhaps he forces his way on to the field at that position — over Bryce Callahan and Cre’von LeBlanc — with a solid showing against Tampa Bay receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson this weekend. At the least, cornerback is looking like a potential position of depth going forward. 

Rooting for rookies

Mitchell Trubisky caught the highlights of Thursday night’s Houston Texans-Cincinnati Bengals slog, which arguably only had one impressive offensive play — DeShaun Watson’s 49-yard touchdown run. Between Watson and second-round pick DeShone Kizer (who looked solid even in Cleveland’s loss last weekend), the 2017 rookie class of quarterbacks is off to a decent start. 

On top of that, Trubisky and Kansas City first-round pick Patrick Mahomes both turned heads during preseason play. So maybe this year’s quarterback class won’t pale in comparison to the Sam Darnold-Josh Rosen-Josh Allen trio expected to headline the 2018 NFL Draft?

“They said our rookie class was going to be weak as quarterbacks, so I like to see those guys succeed,” Trubisky said. “Hopefully I can have some success in the future as well. I’m never rooting against guys. Always hoping for the best and the best for myself as well. It is kind of cool to see that, especially guys that you get to know throughout the process.”

Captain Compton

Wrapping up from last weekend, if you were wondering why Josh Sitton — who was voted a 2017 captain by his teammates — wasn’t at midfield for the coin toss in Week 1, coach John Fox provided an answer: He gave that role to Tom Compton, who started at right guard in place of Kyle Long and [played for Atlanta].

“We wanted to let Tom go out as an extra captain, he had played in Atlanta so it was a good gesture on Josh's part,” Fox said. “He cleared it with me, I always have to announce to the officials who the captains are out there for the coin toss so we made that change before the game.”

The last word with Tarik Cohen

On the Friday before the Bears’ season opener, Jordan Howard, Benny Cunningham and Tarik Cohen sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field. Apparently, some people thought the trio was off-key, which Cohen said wasn’t his fault. 

“Not everyone has an ear for talent like I do,” Cohen quipped. “Some people said I couldn't sing — I don't think they were listening to the right person. They probably heard Benny or Jordan. My singing was excellent."