Bears

If Bears decide to make a trade, which QBs could they look to pursue?

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USA TODAY

If Bears decide to make a trade, which QBs could they look to pursue?

Week 6 of the 2019 NFL schedule will be highlighted by the showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson will face off in what’s being dubbed as a showcase of the league’s best young quarterbacks.

Naturally, that’s a tough pill to swallow for Bears fans.

We all know the story by now. General manager Ryan Pace pushed all of his 2017 NFL draft chips to the center of the table when he traded up one spot from No. 3 overall to No. 2 in order to select Mitch Trubisky, a move that’s produced mixed results now three seasons in.

It’s unfair to call Trubisky a bust at this point, but it’s an honest assessment to say he’s a distant third in the pecking order behind Mahomes and Watson.

But none of that really matters moving forward. Quarterbacks who throw for incredible numbers don’t always win the Super Bowl, and while Trubisky doesn’t project as a guy who’s going to lead the league in any major passing category, he does have the work ethic and character to emerge as a leader who can take his team on a Super Bowl run.

He did, after all, lead the Bears to a 12-4 record and what should’ve been a game-winning drive in last year’s wild-card round.

There is one troubling theme bubbling under the surface with Trubisky. For the second year in a row, he’s missed starts due to a shoulder injury. He sat two games in 2018 and was sidelined for the Raiders game in London last week. His absence cost the Bears in the win column and it’s pretty clear that Chase Daniel isn’t the best backup plan in the long-term.

Normally, backup quarterbacks aren’t big-name guys who are fresh off of starting jobs, and if they are, they probably weren’t very good. But the Bears could have an opportunity over the next few weeks to trade for a better Plan B if Trubisky gets hurt again (note: the NFL trade deadline this season is Oct. 29).

Let’s start in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars are riding Minshew Mania to a better-than-expected start to their 2019 season. None of this was supposed to happen; instead, Nick Foles was signed to be their fearless leader who could finally complement a Super Bowl-worthy defense and lead Jacksonville on a playoff run.

Foles injured his collarbone in Week 1 and hasn’t taken a snap since. He’s expected to be out until Week 11. By then, the Jaguars should firmly be Gardner Minshew’s team. Foles can likely be had in a trade and his familiarity with an Andy Reid-style offense (he thrived under Doug Pederson in Philadelphia the last two seasons) would make him a perfect fit under Matt Nagy.

Then there’s the Cincinnati Bengals and Andy Dalton. The Bengals are in a two-horse race with the Miami Dolphins for Tua Tagovailoa and there’s virtually no chance they’ll re-sign Dalton this offseason. After a few more losses, would the Bengals consider shipping him out of town for some draft capital? It would certainly be worth exploring by Pace.

Dalton has enjoyed success as a passer in the NFL, including two seasons with more than 4,200 passing yards. However, he does have an injury history and has just 16 starts over the last two seasons. Still, he’s an accurate passer who would be a fantastic insurance policy in 2019 and potentially beyond.

If the Bears want to go the more traditional backup route, they could kick the tires on Giants veteran Eli Manning. Prying the two-time Super Bowl champ away from Big Blue is probably the least likely scenario considering Manning’s no-trade clause, but Manning has enough left in the tank to give Chicago a chance to win games if Trubisky is out of the lineup. Maybe it’s more accurate to say he’d give the Bears a better chance than Daniel.

And then there’s always Josh Rosen, who the Miami Dolphins appear to be auditioning to trade away this offseason when they land their quarterback of the future in the 2020 NFL draft. He’d be the most controversial addition because of his status as a young former first-rounder who doesn’t project as a one-year rental (unless you’re the Dolphins). Rosen’s growth, much like Trubisky’s, has been stunted by his less-than-ideal first-year setting more than his natural talent.

The most likely approach, however, is that Pace will do nothing. He’ll roll the dice on Trubisky’s toughness and Daniel’s veteran experience (although that seems contradictory considering his limited number of starts over his 11 years in the NFL).

But if the Bears are serious about going on a Super Bowl run in 2019, they’ll need to do something to protect the team against a devastating turn of events at quarterback.

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Under Center Podcast: Bears still searching for an identity after loss to the Packers

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears still searching for an identity after loss to the Packers

Laurence Holmes and the Football Aftershow crew of Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Alex Brown discuss the 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

5:21 - Expectations have significantly dropped for Mitch Trubisky this season.

9:36 - Ryan Pace needs to build a better roster for his coach.

15:19 - Bears need to draft another quarterback immediately.

22:53 - How should the Bears prepare with no chance of making the playoffs

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Under Center Podcast

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Bears defense bends, breaks, then fights back in loss to Green Bay Packers

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USA Today

Bears defense bends, breaks, then fights back in loss to Green Bay Packers

In a bend-but-don’t-break season, the Bears defense played a bend-but-don’t-break game in possibly the team’s last contest of significance — a 21-13 road loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Their first half energy was palpable. And how could it not be? This afternoon, the front seven, the defense and the team, en masse, regained one of its preeminent talents and preeminent leaders in Akiem Hicks.

“It was everything,” Hicks said, of being able to return. “My defensive linemates saw the energy and they were excited for me to be able to go back out there, because they know how much I miss it.”

“It was huge, man,” Eddie Jackson said of Hicks’ impact. “He gets us fired up.”

For a time, that was enough. At the half, the Packers led 7-3, but had only 129 total yards (29 rushing on 3.2 ypc) of total offense, had punted twice and turned over on downs twice. Their only score came as a culmination of a four-play, 35-yard drive on a field shortened by a questionably-called kick-catch interference penalty on Cordarrelle Patterson.

But signs of the Packers’ eventual offensive breakout were abundant. On the first play of the game, Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a would-be 70-yard touchdown after roasting Prince Amukamara in coverage. Davante Adams burned a sagging Buster Skrine for a score on a 4th-and-6 play later in the first quarter. Even only 11-of-21 with 100 yards at the break, Aaron Rodgers faced little pressure in the game’s first 30 minutes.  

There’s the bend.

The break came fast and hard on the Packers’ opening two drives of the second half. On the first, Rodgers gashed the Bears twice — once through the air on a 34-yard dart to Adams, then on the ground with a 17-yard scramble. Aaron Jones finished the job with a 21-yard touchdown run from there. Then, after a Bears’ three-and-out, Green Bay snapped off a five-play, 66 yard touchdown drive that featured a 49-yard Josh Kumerow catch-and-run. 

Coverage breakdowns and missed tackles abounded. The Packers led 21-3.

“Nobody anticipated coming out of the half and having them rally that way,” Hicks said. “So we just kept fighting.”

Fight they did. As the Bears’ offense gradually came to life over the game’s last quarter-and-a-half — eventually cutting the deficit to 21-13 — the defense held tough. Eddy Pineiro opened the fourth quarter with a 27-yard field goal. From that point on, the Packers didn’t get a first down.

“Guys stepped up. You could see the fire in guys’ eyes, because we felt that,” Hicks said. “We stayed in the game. It’s impossible not to have a good deal of respect for these guys because there’s no quitters.”

But that last, over-the-hump moment eluded the Bears. After drawing within eight, the offense failed to push the ball deep into Packers territory until the last play. On the drive directly after an Anthony Miller touchdown made the score 21-13, the defense nearly flipped the game’s script with what appeared to be a forced fumble on Rodgers at the Packers’ 20-yard line. After replay review, officials ruled Rodgers’ elbow down.

Last season, a play like that might have swung the Bears’ way. But not tonight — a night when, it should be noted the defense sacked Rodgers only once and didn’t force a turnover. They were solid, but the big plays were lacking, as they have been all year.

“We always wanna get [big play turnovers], but right now they’re not there. That’s something you feel as a player,” Jackson said. “You know, a lot of stuff changed from last year to this year, just with the type of play calls and everything. But that’s expected. Everybody’s still getting used to everything, finding your finesses, your disguises, you know things like that.”

Of course, the offense will be decried for not putting up more than 13 points in a must-win game. And the defense has been without multiple starters for the majority of this season. Though they'd never admit to that playing a factor in their marginal regression from 2018's transcendent (and largely healthy) group, it warrants acknowledgement. 

There's ample criticism and explaining away to go around. Ultimately, the Bears’ locker room was ripe with disappointment over the result of this game and this season, but the confidence in each other and the emphasis on finishing the final three games on a high note remained.

“Just finish man. Just finish. You just lay it all on the line. That’s it,” Jackson said. “You gonna see who gonna stand up, you gonna see who gonna lay down.”