Bears

Bears QB Big Board, 2.0: Stock up, Ryan Tannehill?

Bears QB Big Board, 2.0: Stock up, Ryan Tannehill?

The Bears' 2019 season, one that seemed all but over after Week 9's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, received an injection of life in Sunday's 20-13 victory over the Lions. The win did more than just move the Bears' record to 4-5 and keep them in the hunt for an NFC wild card; it may have been the kind of performance from Mitch Trubisky that keeps him in the quarterback conversation in 2020.

Trubisky finished Sunday's game completing 16-of-23 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, a stat line that isn't jaw-dropping but is still remarkable for a third-year quarterback who's struggled to look like he belongs all season. For the Bears, it was a glimmer of hope that Trubisky is capable of turning the corner and can eventually become a consistent game-manager with some big-time throw upside.

Still, it's only one game. And it wasn't even a full game; Trubisky struggled to move the ball in the first half and really only looked comfortable on a handful of series, which happened to end in touchdowns.

Regardless, it would be negligent for Ryan Pace to assume the quarterback situation in Chicago is solved after one mediocre performance from a player who's underperformed through 34 starts. At some point, a player simply is who he is, and there have been enough throws from Trubisky (1,003 to be exact) to have a pretty strong feeling about what his ceiling is. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear very high.

Week 10 launched a new contender for the Bears' 2020 quarterback gig who prior to Sunday's games was on the outside looking in: Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill, like Trubisky, has first-round pedigree and enjoyed some moderate levels of success during his six seasons in Miami. Now, he's finding ways to win games for the Titans since taking over for Marcus Mariota. He's 3-1 as a starter this season and has 92 career starts on his resume.

Tannehill would bring experience, arm talent and the kind of athletic ability to be a perfect fit in Matt Nagy's offense. In fact, he'd profile very similar to Alex Smith, who rejuvenated his career when he joined the Chiefs under Andy Reid (and Nagy).

Tannehill's started half the number of games as Trubisky this season and has more than 100 fewer pass attempts, yet he's thrown for the same number of touchdowns (eight) and is just 230 yards behind. His yards per attempt (8.4) crushes Trubisky's 5.9. Simply put, if he was under center in Chicago right now, the Bears would probably have a few more wins in their record.

Tannehill is heading toward unrestricted free agency this offseason, but his big-time win over the Chiefs in Week 10 that featured several big-time throws may have the Titans pondering a multi-year contract before the season ends.

Bears' Quarterback Big Board (11/12/2019)

1. Andy Dalton (Bengals) 
previous: 1 (11/5)

2. Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: 3 (11/5)

3. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 2 (11/5)

4. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: Outside looking in (11/5)

5. Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: 4 (11/5)

 6. Nick Foles (Jaguars)
previous: 5 (11/5)

Outside looking in...

Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: outside looking in (11/5)

Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (11/5)

Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: outside looking in (11/5)

Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: outside looking in (11/5)

Jacob Eason (Washington) 
previous: outside looking in (11/5)

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Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

The 2019 college football regular season is over, which means the 2020 NFL draft season is right around the corner. Underclassmen are declaring by the day, all-star rosters are filling out and, of course, mock drafts are being published.

The really unique thing about the Bears in 2019 is how fluid their likely NFL draft needs have been. A few weeks ago, quarterback would've topped the list. Now? Not so much. Tight end, a position that's been non-existent in Chicago's offense all year, suddenly has two players (J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted) who've garnered some excitement.

Seasons like this year make trying to pinpoint which direction GM Ryan Pace will go in April's draft extremely challenging. According to the Draft Wire's latest three-round mock draft, the Bears will grab help for the secondary and offensive line in Round 2.

Their first selection (as of the start of Week 15) comes at No. 45 overall from the Raiders. Chicago uses that pick on Utah cornerback, Jaylon Johnson.

It's hard to argue this projection. The Bears may have a bigger need at cornerback by the time the draft rolls around than they do right now if they decide it's time to part ways with veteran starter Prince Amukamara. Chicago needs to make some difficult salary-cap decisions this offseason, and moving on from Amukamara would free up roughly $9 million in cap space. 

Johnson (6-0, 190) will be part of the second wave of cornerbacks to get drafted this year. He isn't a first-round talent, and barring an elite showing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, he should be available in the middle portion of the second round.

The Bears land offensive line help at No. 50 overall in this mock draft via Tennessee's Trey Smith.

A former five-star recruit, Smith's talent is undeniable. It's first-round worthy. His medicals, however, are not.

After dealing with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, Smith returned to action this season and was once again a dominant force. He projects as an interior player in the NFL and would be an ideal target for a Bears team that needs to add more talent at guard in their effort to replace longtime starter, Kyle Long.

Smith's medical history is likely to push him into Day 3, however, at which point he'll qualify as one of this year's best value selections.

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Matt Nagy thinks about the Packers a lot. 

He thinks about his first career game as an NFL head coach, at Lambeau Field, and how he’ll “never forget that day, that game, for so many different reasons.” 

He thinks about his first NFC North title, which was clinched when Eddie Jackson intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, avenging the season’s earlier loss.

And he thinks about Week 1 of this season, when millions of eyes tuned in on Opening Night to watch a supposed Super Bowl contender score three points, at home, in a loss to the Packers. 

“I try not to remember too much of that,” he said. “That was a rough one.”  

It just so happens that, this week, everyone else is thinking about the Packers too. On the surface level, it’s the 200th meeting in one the league’s most storied rivalries, and a pivotal game in this year’s race for the second Wild Card spot. There’s Aaron Rodgers, who Nagy called, “competitive as hell.” There’s a talented-and-maybe-underperforming defense, with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith on the edges creating matchup nightmares for an offensive line that’s undergone more change than anyone. 

“We knew what kind of players they were,” he added. “They’re not unknown anymore.” 

If you wanted to get esoteric, there’s a great redemption narrative to Sunday’s game too. The Packers came into Chicago and exposed the Bears’ starters – who, you’ll remember, sat out the preseason. Things would get worse – so much worse – but the book was out on Nagy’s Bears, and it took them three months to recover. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now,” Mitch Trubisky said. “We’re a different team. There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Things have been different than Week 1, even if you couldn’t say that until Week 12. Nagy has admittedly found a better rhythm as a play-caller, and many of the issues that plagued the Bears in Week 1 haven’t been an issue lately. The tight end room is producing, they’re shifting through personnel groupings less, and the run game has stabilized – all vital components of the offense that best suits the 2019 Bears. It’s not what Nagy envisioned, but 202 ended up being formative in ways he never expected. 

“I feel like a better coach going through this for the players, for my coaches and just the way we communicate,” he said. “The honesty, the belief in one another; going through this is important and it'll help me in the long run, to be able to handle these type of situations when they arise again.”

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