Playing the 'what-if' game with the Bears and Mitch Trubisky


Playing the 'what-if' game with the Bears and Mitch Trubisky

Random musings at the end of a dismal season… .

Second-guessing is absolutely the easiest of efforts, hindsight being blessed with its inherent clarity. And NFL years with double-digit losses are by definition replete with “what-if’s,” particularly this one for the Bears, dating back to before it had even started:

“What if…the Bears hadn’t given up picks to trade up a spot to draft Mitch Trubisky?”

“What if…Cam Meredith and Kevin White hadn’t been lost for the year before the season was even a week old?”

or the big one…

“What if the Bears had started Trubisky from Day 1, as some in the decision room were advocating?”

How much better would he be going into Week 17 than he is even now, which is pretty good, for a rookie?

Would even a slightly better Trubisky have gotten the Bears past Green Bay, San Francisco, maybe even Detroit, New Orleans or Minnesota, all games decided by a touchdown or less?

The debate not all that long ago (even though it seems like a long time ago, given the slog through the schedule that has played out) was whether or not Trubisky should be allowed to marinate for a season or so, learning as a student rather than being flung into live action from the get-go.

The organization invested $18.5 million in Tampa Bay backup Mike Glennon to give itself two shots at hitting on a quarterback and aside from the money, there were decent reasons for going to Glennon first. Trubisky was not a case of the coaching staff not knowing what it had in the rookie; they knew.

The variable was Trubisky, specifically, whether the moment would prove too big for a quarterback coming off a resume of just 13 college starts. It turned out that the moment was in fact palpably too big for Glennon, while Trubisky proved more than comfortable with pressure in every form.

And Trubisky did want to start, felt he was up to it, way back on opening day, but doesn’t in the least fault the decision and program laid out for him from GM Ryan Pace on down.

“I think every situation’s different,” Trubisky said this week. “For me personally, I wanted to be thrown in as quickly as possible, but I respected and appreciated the plan they had for me and I think it worked out. You can’t go back and change things, but knowing what I know now, it worked for what we were trying to do here, but every situation’s different.

“For me the best experience is to actually go through it. But you can also gain a lot of experience from sitting and watching. It all depends on the person and how much you can benefit from each situation.”

Suppose those situations had started sooner. Organizationally, a question might be how the Trubisky Experience might influence handling of future young players, but as Trubisky says, it’s different for different individuals. Peyton Manning went 3-13 his rookie season with zero hold-the-clipboard time. Trubisky already has topped that win total, and he didn’t have Marshall Faulk, Marvin Harrison and Ken Dilger the way Manning did (if you’re looking for meaningless comparisons).

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains says that adversity builds character; I think it more accurately reveals character, but either way, adversity did not set Trubisky back in the slightest.

“Going through these tough games, battling through a tough season, it’s going to help [Trubisky] long-term,” Loggains said. “It’s like when you go back and study Manning, some of these guys when they first got in the league, you got to grind through these things and battle. How many sacks did Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith take early in their career?

“[Trubisky] has a unique ability not to turn the football over. I say that with one game left. He took too many sacks early on. Now you start to see him extend plays with his legs and throwing balls away. Just the growth that keeps happening.”

One is left to wonder what that growth would look like going into this weekend if it’d been started four games earlier… .

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.