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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