Bears

These PFF stats prove it's time for Bears to move on from Mitch Trubisky

These PFF stats prove it's time for Bears to move on from Mitch Trubisky

Like it or not, analytics have become an integral part of pro football. It's especially true in the assessment of player performance. So when an analytics giant like Pro Football Focus outlines the Bears' biggest offseason needs, it's worth paying attention to.

According to PFF, Chicago's No. 1 need area this offseason — you guessed it — is at quarterback.

We’re going into Year 4 of Trubisky as the Bears' starting quarterback, and he has still failed to crack a 70.0 PFF overall grade. He just isn’t going to develop into the guy the Bears were hoping for when they took him as the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. With plenty of intriguing quarterback options available to the Bears via free agency this offseason, they should attack the position to get back to contending in 2020.

It's hard (if not impossible) to argue with PFF's summary of Trubisky through three seasons in the NFL. The Trubisky faithful will argue that his shortcomings in 2019 were a result of a combination of factors, ranging from the offensive line to the playcalling. But isn't a franchise quarterback supposed to rise above all that and provide at least glimpses of those special qualities inherent in the best leaders like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, to name a few?

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Trubisky isn't that guy. And after 41 regular-season starts, it's safe to say he won't be that guy. At best, he'll develop into an Alex Smith-type game-manager who can enjoy moderate moments of success. And if that level of play is buried somewhere deep within Trubisky's right arm, great! But the Bears can't enter the 2020 season assuming it's there. They have to put an action plan together to make sure the depth chart is secured with a strong QB2 who can quickly become QB1 if (and when) Trubisky fails.

Ironically, Pro Football Focus lists Chicago's offensive line and tight end as their other big needs this offseason, once again giving Trubisky truthers ammunition to back their argument that more protection and better weapons will bring the best out of the former second-overall pick.

The sooner the Bears (and the fanbase) realize Trubisky isn't the guy, the sooner this team will return to true contender status. Otherwise, it'll be more of the same in 2020.

Criticizing Trubisky isn't fun. Suggesting he's a bust isn't pleasant. It stings; it burns the core of every Bears fan. 

But sometimes, the truth hurts. And if the Bears want to move forward with a team that has a Super Bowl-caliber defense, they have to be honest with their assessment of the quarterback situation. And that honest approach has to start in free agency, where several quality veterans will be available.

Failing to do so will be the equivalent of football negligence. 

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

There's a 'strong sense' Chicago Bears will add a veteran QB in free agency

The NFL Combine isn't just about timing draft prospects in the 40-yard dash or measuring how high they can jump. It's also when free-agency plans begin crystallizing with general managers meeting with agents of prospective veteran targets.

And that's why the rumors that come from Indianapolis often have more value than any other time In the offseason. 

In the case of the Bears, those rumors are beginning to swirl around the quarterback position.

It's important to pay close attention to the words Fowler used: The Bears are in the market for a veteran who can push Mitch Trubisky, not necessarily replace him. 

Ryan Pace has always preached competition as the key to bringing the best out of every player. There's been no competition for Trubisky since he unseated Mike Glennon for the starting job as a rookie in 2017, and while that's normally the case for a quarterback drafted as highly as Trubisky, he's been given more than enough time to hold the presumed-starter role.

So who will the Bears target? Players like Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum and Andy Dalton are the first who come to mind. They won't cost nearly as much to acquire as players like Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater or Jameis Winston and all profile as quality backups who can emerge as capable starters, much like Ryan Tannehill was for the Titans in 2019.

Fowler's tweet also suggests the Bears may not be in the market for a quarterback early in the 2020 NFL draft. If, in fact, they add a veteran passer in free agency, it would be a waste of a second-round pick to select a rookie who'd, at best, be QB3 in 2020. They'd be better off focusing on a developmental prospect toward the end of Day 3.

One thing seems pretty obvious at this point: The Bears will have a quarterback competition in training camp, even if it isn't touted as one publicly. Trubisky won't be handed the starting job in 2020; he'll have to earn it, and that may be what brings the very best out of him.

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