Bears

49ers locking in Jimmy Garoppolo sets up interesting future with Bears' Mitch Trubisky

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USA TODAY

49ers locking in Jimmy Garoppolo sets up interesting future with Bears' Mitch Trubisky

Second-guessing is as easy as it is pointless, same with playing “what-if?” So that’s not the point here at all.
 
The San Francisco 49ers casting their future (and a not insignificant portion of their salary cap) into quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this week – potentially $137 million over five years – marks another of those moves that aren’t directly tied to anything Bears, but nonetheless spark a number of thoughts, much as the Super Bowl and postseason in general did, even sans Bears.
 
By way of Garoppolo-specific musings:

If anyone thought using a No. 2-overall draft pick on a quarterback with just 13 college starts (Mitch Trubisky), how about making a quarterback with a total of seven NFL starts and 94 total NFL passes prior to Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season the highest-paid player in football? Starts at North Carolina are nowhere near the same conversation about NFL ones.

But if Garoppolo turns in anything close to the 5-0 performance he did as a starter for the then-woeful 49ers from this point forward, San Francisco GM John Lynch should be unanimous NFL executive of the year, as Ron Wolf (Brett Favre) deserved to be, both of them getting franchise quarterbacks via trade. And Lynch did it with a second-round pick, much as Bill Walsh once did to get Steve Young out of Tampa (the 49ers also threw in a No. 4 to make that deal).
 
(A side question is still the real reason why the Patriots didn’t keep Garoppolo in addition to having Tom Brady the way the 49ers once did when they traded for Young with Joe Montana in place. San Francisco kept them both for five years, which was possible before the advent of the salary cap. But a little intra-QB tension didn’t derail either player or the organization, which won consecutive Super Bowls in 1988-89 even with a head-coaching change. Besides, Brady has made more difficult “adjustments” in his career.)
 
It matters not in the least now, but could Garoppolo have been a Bear? Not unless GM Ryan Pace was clairvoyant.
 
Garoppolo was on the Bears’ radar this time a year ago (which is really not saying much – if you know anything about radar, EVERYTHING is “on” radar, so this is the last time that phrase will appear under this by-line). So were Kirk Cousins, Mike Glennon and myriad other possible solutions to the post-Jay Cutler question around the Bears quarterback situation.
 
So Pace did his due diligence, which including watching Garoppolo work against the Bears during 2016 Bears-Patriots joint practices in New England. wasn’t going to give up No. 1 and No. 3 picks (the supposed New England asking price) for Garoppolo, neither was anyone else, including the 49ers, and the Patriots at that point weren’t really going to give up Garoppolo, anyway. That came later, long after any fail-safe point Pace and the Bears had with respect to making a decision of their own.
 
Pace will be subject to enough scrutiny based on the comparative performances of Trubisky and Deshaun Watson. He doesn’t and won’t deserve any over Garoppolo not being a Bear. Garoppolo wasn’t going to give Pace any hometown discount based on being from Arlington Heights or sharing an alma mater (Eastern Illinois).
 
Exponentially more important is what Pace does to build a franchise team around Trubisky. The Bears were aggressive in securing Matt Nagy, retaining Vic Fangio and then supplementing Nagy/Mark Helfrich with Brad Childress as an offensive consultant. And Pace got the quarterback he wanted at what is and will be a fraction of the contract cost of what the 49ers lavished on Garoppolo, whom the Bears will see again in 2018, every three years based on normal schedule rotation, and every year in between whenever the Bears and 49ers finish at the same division level.
 
That, far more than Trubisky-Watson, will be the rivalry to watch over time.

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

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USA TODAY

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Former Bears offensive linemen Kyle Long appeared on The Rap Sheet and Friends podcast hosted by NFL insider Ian Rapoport and he didn't shy away from questions about Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Long, while stating that he understood the questioning and criticism that Trubisky faces, still believes in him.

"The Bears have won with Mitchell Trubisky."

Indeed Mitch was the starter for 14 games of the Bears 12-4 season before this year's 8-8 disappointment. The issue was Trubisky's play was of course, as he didn't show any noticeable improvement in 2019 after tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018. "We all regressed this year, but unfortunately heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and Mitch is the captain," Long said. 

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise, and he’s young. He’s so young."

Long seems excited by the idea of Chicago's hires, saying that new faces could have quite the positive effect on Trubisky’s game "I’m looking forward to seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch. It’ll be cool to see.”

This offseason the Bears have brought in a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo), and promoted former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. Bears head coach Matt Nagy, similar to Long, has faith in Trubisky developing, especially in regard to Ragone. In December Nagy said, “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.”

Long certainly seems to miss his teammates though he clearly has no regrets about his decision. He and Trubisky definitely share a bond that will last long beyond their playing days. “I love the kid, he’s a great friend obviously, a teammate, but I’m looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Similar to the message delivered by the Bears’ front office, Long was in full support of Trubisky throughout the entire interview.

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise...”

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Kyle Long says retirement was easiest decision he's ever made

Kyle Long says retirement was easiest decision he's ever made

Kyle Long saw the same thing Bears fans did during the 2019 season. His level of play was no longer among the top guards in the NFL. In fact, he became a liability for an offensive line that ultimately became one of the biggest weaknesses on the team.

"Fans who are frustrated with my performance, you don’t think I’m sitting in that film room just clenching my fist because I just can’t make a block, or I’m just not healthy enough to get there?" Long said on the Rapsheet and Friends podcast this week. "It’s frustrating. I feel that. I’ve seen the writing on the wall, the Bears did it right, they gave me every opportunity to get healthy. Any other team in the league would have cut me years ago, I’m talking years ago.

"The Bears did me right, and I wanted to do right by them. I’ll never wear another set of colors but navy and orange. I take pride in that, a lot of guys have gone and played somewhere else when this time came for them and it tarnished their legacy, in my mind at least."

Long started 76 of 77 career games with the Bears and during the course of his seven-year career in Chicago became one of the team's most recognizable personalities on and off the field. It began during his rookie season when he was selected to the NFL's All-Rookie team and was an NFC Pro Bowler.

"The miles that I do have in the NFL are rough ones," Long said. "I played the game hard when I could, I played it as I thought it should be played, I gave everything I could to my teammates, emotionally and all that. I always knew there would come a time where I would not recognize the player that I’m seeing on film, and no player wants to have that. 

"It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made because I didn’t recognize the guy on film. I’ll be honest, I was an ass-kicker for a long time. You line ‘em up, I’ll put ‘em down, but there came a point where I couldn’t do that anymore, and it was frustrating. So I knew it was time."

Long, who said he could play another three or four years, didn't use the word retirement when discussing his status. Instead, he chose 'hiatus' as a better description of his current state.

"Could I play more? Absolutely," said Long. "If I took a year off, can I go play 3-4 more years? No doubt in my mind. Do I want to do that? It remains to be seen, which is why I use the term hiatus."

Maybe we haven't seen the last of Long with the Bears. But one thing's for sure, he won't be suiting up in 2020.