Mitch Trubisky laid a blueprint for the Bears' playoff success

USA Today Sports Images

Mitch Trubisky laid a blueprint for the Bears' playoff success

Consider what Mitch Trubisky did in Sunday’s NFC North-clinching win over the Green Bay Packers a blueprint for what the Bears will need from their quarterback in the playoffs. 
Before his efficient-yet-not-spectacular game, Trubisky expressed frustration with his play last weekend against the Los Angeles Rams — which statistically was the worst game of his career. He felt like he was too excited to return to the field after a two-week absence, leading to him trying to do too much and throwing three interceptions with a brutal 33.3 passer rating. 
So Trubisky made it clear last week what he needed to do against the Green Bay Packers: Make good decisions, get the ball to his playmakers and not try to do too much. 
And that’s exactly what Trubisky did in the Bears’ NFC North-clinching 24-17 win over the Green Bay Packers Sunday at Soldier Field. Trubisky didn’t make any blatantly bad decisions with the ball and made plays when he needed to, completing 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 120.4 passer rating. 
Trubisky’s longest completion in the air traveled 23 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — and that was when he deftly avoided a blitz and was flushed out of the pocket, finding tight end Adam Shaheen with an outstanding throw toward the sideline. Otherwise, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine kept a zone-oriented lid on the Bears’ deep passing attack, and Trubisky was happy to operate within those constraints. 
“That's exactly what I wanted to do,” Trubisky said. “We knew they weren't going to give us anything deep so it was going to be a grind it out game, take what they give us underneath and just find completions. So that's what I wanted to do all day, just stack completions. 
“I knew we would break some tackles and then you get some longer plays and then when we get to the red zone we need convert. But the main thing is we wanted to stay out of third down. We know they could throw a bunch of funky stuff at us on third down, and that was just my mindset this whole game, don't do anything crazy, don't try to make a splash, just completions after completions and it resulted in first downs and it helped create a rhythm within the offense that I think helped all day.”
The Bears might not need Trubisky to be their hero when their first playoff appearance in eight years rolls around in January. They have the league’s best defense, one that held the Rams to six points and didn’t allow Aaron Rodgers to throw for a touchdown on Sunday. Green Bay’s only touchdown drive came on a short field after a fake punt backfired. 
The Bears only had two three-and-outs — one of which came late in the fourth quarter after Eddie Jackson’s interception — and at the very least owned the field position battle, outside of that fake punt. Taking away that fake punt, the Packers started their other 10 drives on average on their own 21-yard line. 
“I'm super proud of him,” coach Matt Nagy said. “… When you have this defense and you're able to play with such a great defense and have that field position, protect the football and not throw interceptions, we're always going to have an opportunity.”
And on top of all that, Trubisky did make some critical plays. His knack for avoiding blitzes showed up in a big way, for one. And his strike to a wide-open Trey Burton for a go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown was the product of not only an excellent throw, but excellent anticipation from the second-year quarterback. 
“That was a conviction throw,” Nagy said. “When he does that, he's tough to stop.”
This was the Trubisky the Bears will need to see in the playoffs. If he’s better? That’s, of course, a bonus. But the Bears will be legitimate contenders to take a trip to Atlanta if Trubisky plays the way he did against Green Bay come January. 
“He stepped up to the plate,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “Whenever his number’s called, he’s going to make the play that needed to be made.” 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”