If you're one of the 48 people who plan on watching the Pro Bowl this weekend, you and your 47 friends won't be seeing Khalil Mack.
It was announced on Tuesday morning that the Bears' star pass rusher will again miss the annual "showcase" with an unspecified injury. While he's been elected to 5 Pro Bowls, this is the second time in two years that he's missed the event since being traded to Chicago.
Replacing Mack will be Green Bay's Za'Darius Smith. Smith had 13.5 sacks this season, which was sixth-best in the NFL. It was the most sacks in anyone's first season in Green Bay since 1982, as well as the fifth most in a single season in Packers' history (since 1982), per the team's press release.
By comparison, Mack had 8.5 sacks this season, the lowest mark since his rookie year in 2014. It was also the first time since that season that he failed to reach double-digits. The Bears will still have three representatives in Orlando this weekend: Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
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Congrats, grumps. You got what you wanted:
While in the middle of a 45-minute press conference with GM Ryan Pace, Bears coach Matt Nagy confirmed that, actually, the whole no-starters-in-preseason idea is a thing of the past.
"Absolutely. [Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles] are going to play in preseason," Nagy said on Friday morning. It’ll be equal reps and it’ll be a good competition for them. And, again, that kind of goes in tune with what we’re doing really with our whole team. It’s going to be some of the things we discuss and talk about when we’re able to do that with the team. But I think that’s part important and they’ll be a big part of that.”
It's a notable departure in tone from 2019, when Nagy's adamant refusal to play starters in preseason had, at the time, many wondering if the Bears' coach was setting a trend. Then the Bears finished 8-8 with one of the worst offenses in the NFL, and many (fairly or not) pointed to the lack of competitive snaps in preseason as a precursor to the team's disappointing year.
Whether the Bears even have a preseason remains to be seen, even though it's already shaping up to be a critical one in the Matt Nagy era. Coming out and saying that starters will return to preseason makes all the sense in the world – there's no advantage to doubling-down on last year's optically-doomed strategy. Nagy can run the 1's out for two drives, let Pat O'Donnell do his thing, and never have to spend his weekly radio hits talking about preseason snap counts again.
The Chicago Bears confirmed there will be an open quarterback competition between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles during Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy's media teleconference on Friday, which, by default, suggests the organization isn't confident they got it right when they selected Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
There's a chance Trubisky will rise to the occasion and win the Bears' starting job, and if he does (and plays well in 2020), a new and lucrative contract extension will be the next order of business; unless, of course, the Bears pick up his fifth-year option this May which will give the club another year to decide on his future.
Pace gave no indication the Bears will (or won't) take advantage of that fifth year prior to the deadline.
All signs point toward Chicago declining the option year. There isn't going to be some kind of miraculous discovery over the next 30 days that changes their uncertainty with Trubisky. Think about it: if Pace and Nagy knew No. 10 would be their guy in 2021, they wouldn't have traded for Foles.
So while Pace is dodging the question now, he already answered it through his actions last month.