Bears

Bears-49ers highlighted the gap between Mitchell Trubisky and Jimmy Garoppolo

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USA TODAY

Bears-49ers highlighted the gap between Mitchell Trubisky and Jimmy Garoppolo

In the big picture, the result of Sunday’s game — a 15-14 Bears loss to the San Francisco 49ers, who scored all their points on five Robbie Gould field goals — doesn’t matter a whole lot. It does to the players, of course, and will have some impact on the draft positions of both of these teams.

But what Sunday’s meeting between two of the worst teams in the NFL did highlight was the gap between Jimmy Garoppolo and Mitchell Trubisky.

Garoppolo, who’s in his fourth year in the league, made his first start with the 49ers and completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards with an interception and an 82.4 rating. Trubisky, making his eighth career start, completed 12 of 15 passes for 102 yards with one touchdown and a rating of 117.2. But this less about each player’s respective stat line and more about how each player looked on Sunday.

Garoppolo — who was barely pressured by the Bears’ front seven — picked apart the middle of the field and made a number of impressive throws, even with a lackluster group of receivers and a running game that didn’t go anywhere (Carlos Hyde rushed 17 times for 54 yards).

For all the talk in the Bay Area of Garoppolo not knowing coach Kyle Shahanan’s offensive system, he looked comfortable and confident throwing the ball and operating the San Francisco offense. Garoppolo’s interception was less about him making a bad throw and more about Kyle Fuller making an outstanding play to rip the ball away from receiver Louis Murphy.

Meanwhile, Trubisky started the game well, finding Dontrelle Inman for an eight-yard touchdown and showing good timing on some quick slant throws. But whatever modest level of success he had against a 49ers defense that entered Sunday ranked 27th in DVOA fizzled in the second half. Trubisky fumbled twice in the span of three plays at one point and looked “hoppy” at times, though he once again did well to avoid any dangerous throws.

Everyone shares in the blame for the Bears’ offensive struggles, from Trubisky to the running game to the wide receivers to the offensive line to the coaching staff. It’s not like the 49ers have markedly better players surrounding their franchise quarterback, though there’s an argument to be made the coaching around Garoppolo is better.

But while Garoppolo out-played Trubisky on Sunday, this isn’t necessarily a sky-is-falling take second-guessing the Bears’ decision to get their guy instead of the 49ers’ guy. Worth noting: Garoppolo will be a free agent after this season, and given the market for quarterbacks (see: Mike Glennon’s contract) he’ll be in line for a hefty payday from San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the Bears control Trubisky for four more inexpensive years during which he can develop and grow. It might be easier to build a core around a quarterback who will earn a little over $29 million on his current contract than having to pay around $20 million just to keep said franchise quarterback.

Matt Nagy listed among coaches on the hot seat in 2020

Matt Nagy listed among coaches on the hot seat in 2020

It's been quite a first two years in Chicago for Bears coach Matt Nagy.

After winning an NFC North title in a 12-win, first season on the job in 2018, Nagy's Bears regressed to a .500 club last season that couldn't get out of its own way on offense, his supposed specialty. With 32 games on his resume and a 20-12 overall record as head coach, the Bears could do a lot worse.

Remember John Fox? Remember Marc Trestman? Never forget.

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round Mock Draft

But the NFL is a win-now, win-always, just-win league. Nagy didn't do that in 2019, and when combined with the Super Bowl expectations the Bears began the year with, his shortcomings were magnified.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky got worse, the offensive line was a turnstile and the running game didn't exist for most of the year.

All this from Nagy's offense that was hyped as Level 202 during training camp.

The hype is over, and the pressure is on. With pressure comes the proverbial hot seat, and Nagy was recently pegged as one of five coaches who will begin next season with a warm buttock by Bleacher Report. 

Nagy's offense and the play of a costly investment by the name of Mitchell Trubisky dramatically regressed in 2019. The Bears managed just 17.5 points per game while Trubisky produced a mere 17 touchdowns against 10 picks. Little in the way of offensive identity existed while the running game averaged 3.7 yards per carry and one ball-carrier (David Montgomery) surpassed the 300-yard mark.

It doesn't help that the defense went from allowing a league-best 17.7 points per game with 50 sacks in 2018 to 18.6 and 32, respectively, fueling the idea of a regression without defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and putting a further damper on things. 

The Bears, given the investment in Trubisky and pieces like All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack, have higher expectations than most teams. Going into 2020, another 8-8 season probably isn't going to cut it. 

Nagy's job security will come down to his handling of Trubisky. If the former No. 2 overall pick delivers more of the same in 2020, Nagy has to prove he has the courage to make the change under center. Otherwise, he'll come across as nothing more than GM Ryan Pace's pawn in the quarterback game.

It's true the fates of Pace and Nagy fate are likely tied together. As the 2020 season goes, so goes their future with the team. They have to be in lockstep about Trubisky, and self-preservation is a very powerful thing. Don't expect Trubisky's leash to be all that long.   

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Bears meet with FIU quarterback at East-West Shrine Bowl

Bears meet with FIU quarterback at East-West Shrine Bowl

The Bears' quest to flip their quarterback room from a group of underwhelming veterans with little upside behind Mitch Trubisky is already off and running.

According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the Bears met with FIU quarterback James Morgan at the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl, the second-largest All-Star game of the NFL draft circuit.

Morgan (6-foot-4, 223) completed 58 percent of his passes last season for 2,560 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. He isn't considered a draftable player at this point in the process, but a strong showing in front of scouts at the Shrine Bowl could change that. 

Morgan had a more productive 2018 campaign when he threw 26 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. 

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round Mock Draft

Bears fans are expecting a bigger move at quarterback than Morgan, but if Chicago adds a veteran in free agency, they're more likely to wait until Day 3 to draft a developmental prospect, if any at all. It's possible Trubisky will be backed up (at least initially) by a player like Andy Dalton to begin the year, while a youngster like Morgan sharpens his skill set on the practice squad.

Next week's Senior Bowl will help put some of the pieces of this puzzle together. Quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and Jordan Love (Utah State) are both considered late first-round prospects who could easily slide into Round 2. If the Bears spend time with them in Mobile, it could be a strong clue about their second-round plans.

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