Bears

Chris Simms: Bears offense has issues beyond just Mitch Trubisky

Chris Simms: Bears offense has issues beyond just Mitch Trubisky

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky (shoulder) will make his return to the starting lineup Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (5-1), who are dealing with injury issues of their own. Quarterback Drew Brees will miss his fifth consecutive game with a thumb injury and running back Alvin Kamara (ankle) has yet to practice this week.

The Saints may play it safe with Kamara and keep him sidelined in Week 7, but it doesn't appear the Bears will do the same with Trubisky. He's been a full participant in practice and is expected to play without restrictions.

"No, I don’t think he should play, if it’s still something that’s nagging or weakened, like oh we could have a major setback and that could hurt him that way, I wouldn’t play him," NBC Sports NFL Analyst Chris Simms told NBC Sports Chicago this week. "You gotta keep the big picture of the NFL season in mind in this type of situation. It is a little bit about how he feels, how bad the injury actually is, how bad can he hurt it worse, all of those things come into play."

Trubisky will play with a harness on his left shoulder, and while it's a restriction that will take some getting used to, it shouldn't limit his ability to throw the ball all that much.

The bigger concern, however, is when Trubisky tucks and runs. Can his shoulder withstand a big hit or a hard fall? If that part of his game is limited, the offense is in for a long afternoon.

Trubisky's struggles as a passer in 2019 have been well-documented. 

"It hasn’t been great, it has not, there’s nothing I can say," Simms said. "And I’ve been a huge Mitchell Trubisky defender, I think anybody that’s watched this show saw me last year saying, no, I still believe in Mitchell Trubisky, he’s got talent. Now what I saw before the injury this year, I did not like it. Not good decision-making, not crisp throwing, on-target consistency, all of those things have been an issue. But I don’t think it’s all just about Mitchell Trubisky.

"Listen, Chase Daniel got in there and we were told, the whole offense is open with Chase Daniel because he knows it. Well, if that’s the whole offense, then I’m disappointed. What is the Bears’ offense right now? That plays into how the quarterback has been looking. So, yes, Mitchell Trubisky could play better, but I don’t necessarily look at it and go, 'Wow, he’s really missing a lot of wide-open receivers' or 'There’s all these yards to be had and he’s messing it up.' No, there’s a lot of other issues along with Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterback play in that Bears offense."

The biggest issue that's plagued Chicago's offense in 2019 is the offensive line, which is also one of the biggest surprises considering how well-respected the unit was coming into the season. Right guard Kyle Long, who was arguably the worst starter of the bunch, was placed on season-ending injured reserve this week. It may be a case of addition by subtraction even with an unknown commodity like Rashaad Coward likely stepping into his role.

Still, this team's short- and long-term success comes down to Trubisky improving as that decision-maker and crisp-thrower. He'll get a chance to show he's on his way Sunday at Soldier Field.

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

The Chicago Bears have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2019 after falling to 4-6 following Sunday night's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, it's time to start looking ahead to 2020 and the necessary moves GM Ryan Pace must make in order to take advantage of the Bears' already championship-worthy defense.

Pace will face some obvious challenges in the offseason, most notably the salary cap where the Bears won't have much flexibility. According to Spotrac, Chicago will be in the bottom-five teams in the league in cap space which will make shopping in free agency a limited endeavor. 

But as we've seen many times in the NFL, creative general managers can move money around in ways to free up the dollars for new contracts to make sense, and it's on Pace to make sure he does that in order to land at least two big-ticket free agents to fix two of this team's most pressing needs.

The NFL draft will also provide Pace with a great opportunity to add young, starting-quality talent in the second round. The Bears will end up with two of this year's top-60(ish) players and they have to make those picks count.

Here are four players Pace should target in order to turn the 2020 Bears into the contender they were supposed to be this season.

Sign QB Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)

Bridgewater would be the perfect target for Pace and the Bears in free agency to bring stability and reliability to the quarterback position. The former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has resurrected his career after a devastating knee injury in 2016. Now three seasons removed, Bridgewater proved he's ready to take on a starting job after playing five games in relief of Drew Brees after the future Hall-of-Famer suffered a hand injury.

Bridgewater won all five starts and completed nearly 68 percent of his passes along the way. He racked up 281 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Bears and displayed the kind of accuracy and decision-making that Matt Nagy's offense calls for.

The Bears won't be the only suitors for Bridgewater's services, but the appeal of starting in Chicago with a defense that's proven it can win games on its own will at least be enticing for the former Lousiville star.

Sign TE Austin Hooper (Falcons)

Hooper will command a contract similar to what Chicago paid Trey Burton in 2018 (four years, $32 million), so it will be hard to justify tying up that much money in the tight end position. But as 2019 has proven, there's no way for Nagy's offense to reach its potential without a weapon at tight end in the passing game.

Hooper missed Week 11 with an MCL injury and could be on the shelf for a few more weeks, but he's been one of the league's better playmakers at tight end this season. He has 56 catches for 608 yards and six touchdowns and has shown steady improvement over each year of his career. He had 71 catches for 660 yards and four scores in 2018.

Draft OT Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) in 2nd round

It'll take a little bit of luck for 'Prince' to fall to the Bears' first of two second-round picks, which right now sits at No. 46 overall. But the Bears have to be aggressive in upgrading the offensive line this offseason. While Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie are serviceable offensive tackles, a player like Tega Wanogho has the kind of traits that could eventually develop into a top-tier starter on either side of the offensive line.

The Bears could decide to prioritize the interior of the offensive line in the draft, and that's fine. But the best (and cheapest) way to land a high-end offensive tackle is through the draft, and Pace has to swing for the fences on a pick like this in 2020.

Draft EDGE Yetur Gross Matos (Penn State) in 2nd round

Pass rushers like Gross Matos are often pushed up the draft board because of the premium placed on the position, but with several teams expected to take a quarterback in the first round and with the number of ridiculously talented wide receivers in the 2020 class, a player like Gross Matos could suffer a bit of a fall.

Gross Matos has six sacks so far this season, which is a respectable total but has fallen a tad short of expectations entering the year. He had eight sacks in 2018 and was a popular pick to explode as a sack artist this fall. Still, he has the athletic profile Pace loves in his pass rushers and would be an instant upgrade over Leonard Floyd, who's failed to live up to his first-round billing since joining the Bears in 2016.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

Hub Arkush, JJ Stankevitz, and Ben Finfer join the birthday boy on today's show.

0:00 - Sunday's debacle in L.A. continues to dominate headlines. So what happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward? Is Matt Nagy's offense fixable? And how did a team that was one of the favorites for the Super Bowl fall apart this quickly?

16:00 - Jeremy Roenick joins Kap to talk about Kirby Dach's hot streak and if the Jeremy Colliton saved his job by making one tweak to his scheme.

24:00 - Dave Wannstedt joins Kap to discuss the fallout from Sunday's Bears loss to the Rams. How would Wanny handle Eddy Pineiro's confidence? Plus he talks about how to keep a team motivated with the playoff hopes essentially gone.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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