Bears

Trading for a QB isn't the Bears' answer. It's to keep hoping Mitch Trubisky gets better

Trading for a QB isn't the Bears' answer. It's to keep hoping Mitch Trubisky gets better

The Bears are stuck with Mitch Trubisky for the final 10 games of 2019, with nothing left but to hope the guy they traded up to draft second overall in 2017 finally puts everything together. 

Or, alternatively, doesn’t continue to show alarming signs of regression in what was supposed to be a year of “incremental growth,” as general manager Ryan Pace put it prior to the season. 

Chase Daniel is not the answer. Trading for a quarterback before the NFL’s Oct. 29 deadline is not the answer, because it's not realistic (more on that later). The only answer for the 3-3 Bears is something clicking with Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy over the next 10 weeks. 

It’s why Nagy said he’s “absolutely” committed to Trubisky moving forward. 

If that feels bleak, it’s because it is. Trubisky averaged 3.4 yards per attempt before the New Orleans Saints backed off with four and a half minutes left in a blowout, allowing him to pick up some easy yards and finish the day averaging 4.6 yards per attempt (which is still not good). The Bears have one of the worst offenses in the NFL with a quarterback who's fast becoming a national social media punchline. 

This is the point of the story where we acknowledge Trubisky is far from the only problem with the Bears’ offense. He’s not the one calling the plays or executing the runs and run blocks. A better run game would certainly help Trubisky be a better quarterback, of course, since opposing defenses would actually have to respect the Bears' ability to beat them on the ground. 

Since the start of the 2018 season, teams are 13-29 when they average 2.4 yards per carry or fewer, which the Bears did Sunday. No team has won attempting seven or fewer rushes since 1951, and the Bears are only the sixth team since 2000 to have such a paltry commitment to the run in a given game. The Bears’ previous franchise low for rushing attempts in a game was eight, set during the ignominious Marc Trestman era in 2014. 

“Nothing that you see on the field is 100 percent (Trubisky’s) fault,” running back Tarik Cohen said. 

But having a good quarterback would paper over some of these issues. Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson have both won games in 2019 with their offenses averaging fewer than 2.4 yards per carry. 

Those, of course, are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and there exists a real possibility Watson follows Mahomes as NFL MVP in 2019. You all know why they’re being mentioned here. 

"You would like the defense not to be dropping out every time and you would like to have a balanced attack on offense, and that's what we're trying to do," Trubisky said. "But my job is just whatever is called to make sure I go out there and do my job to the best of my ability, and I think if you do that, then it opens up the run game, then the pass game opens up as well."

Is the solution to trade for a quarterback? Probably not. First of all: Never say never, but it's extremely unlikely Pace would even consider such a move. It would mean giving up on the guy he staked this franchise to four or five games into his third year in the NFL. 

Would it be a bold move, fitting with Pace's history of bold moves? Of course. But when Pace traded two first-round picks for Khalil Mack, he was replacing Aaron Lynch in the starting lineup, not a guy he drafted with a top-10 pick. NFL general managers have a history of attachment to their top picks. It's why, right now, even with Trubisky's slow start to the season the expectation here is Pace will still pick up his quarterback's fifth-year option next spring. 

But if Pace were to decide to even consider trading for a quarterback, it would require a team to make a quarterback available. Midseason quarterback trades are exceedingly rare — Carson Palmer going from Cincinnati to Oakland in 2011 is the only one that comes to memory — and there's a good chance Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota andeven  Josh Rosen aren't available. 

Also: Are any of those guys slam-dunks to be an upgrade over Trubisky when dropped into a new, complex scheme with receivers they've never thrown to before in the middle of a season? 

But then again, this is what Pace said after drafting Trubisky in 2017:

“If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” Pace said. “There are times when you’ve got to be aggressive and when you have conviction on a guy, you can’t sit on your hands. 

“I just don’t want to be average around here, I want to be great. And these are the moves you have to make.”

The Bears are nothing but an average team right now, the kind that will struggle to reach the playoffs and truly be great. They have a very good — not elite — defense and a bad offense that, combined, are not playing complementary football. That’s a recipe for 8-8 being a best-case record. 

For the Bears to stop playing like average is their ceiling, they'll need to get their quarterback to start playing like the guy they've hoped he could be for the last two-and-a-half years. 

That may not be an ideal spot for this team to be in, but it's where they are, hoping with increasingly blind faith in a quarterback who hasn't lived up to expectations. 

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Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack is doing good in his hometown during the holiday season.

Mack paid off more than 300 layaway accounts at a Walmart in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla. Mack paid through the Khalil Mack Foundation.

The Fort Pierce Walmart announced his good deed on their Facebook page:

“We have some wonderful news! If you have an active Holiday Layaway account at your local Ft. Pierce Wal-Mart, you account has been paid off!

“We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays!”

Mack has been a big play player for the Bears defense since joining the team last year. Here is an example of a big play off the field from Mack.

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

The 2019 NFL season is in its final quarter, and with the Bears essentially needing to win out while also getting some help around the league to make the playoffs, it's important to keep track of the trending NFL Draft narrative building around this team.

The funny thing, however, is that that narrative continues to change.

Just a few weeks ago, the Bears were considered a team that would potentially dip into the pool of quarterback prospects in the early second round, but with the emergence of Mitch Trubisky (he's thrown for 582 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games alone), it appears less likely that GM Ryan Pace will use one of his few draft assets on one.

Tight end was also considered a target for the Bears in the second round, and that could remain the case as the season marches on. But Jesper Horsted is beginning to look like a legitimate sleeper to emerge as part of the answer at such a critical position in coach Matt Nagy's offense.

So where does that leave this team's hierarchy of draft needs as the offseason inches closer? 

According to CBS Sports' new seven-round mock draft, the first two positions the Bears will address with their two second-round picks are cornerback and offensive tackle. In this mock, Chicago grabs TCU corner Jeff Gladney (No. 49 overall) and Iowa offensive tackle Alaris Jackson (No. 50 overall).

Gladney will participate in this year's Senior Bowl at the end of January after a standout career with the Horned Frogs. He was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the Big 12 by Pro Football Focus in 2018 and has been solid once again this season, although he's managed just one interception on the year. 

At 6-foot, 183 pounds, Gladney has an NFL frame and the kind of high-end coverage skills the Bears should be looking to add to the roster. Prince Amukamara's contract expires at the end of next season, and drafting a player like Gladney, combined with 2019 sixth-round pick Dukey Shelley, would strengthen the team's pipeline of young cornerbacks who will eventually be called upon to play.

Jackson, who the Bears take with their second second-rounder in this scenario, suffered an early-season knee injury but returned to earn Third Team All-Big 10 honors this year.

Jackson combined with Tristan Wirfs to give Iowa one of the best offensive tackle duos in college football, but Jackson offers a little less upside on the edge moving forward. Still, the Bears have suffered from underwhelming offensive line play all season and won't hesitate to add a player with Jackson's pedigree early in this year's draft.

As for the rest of the Bears' draft haul, here are some highlights:

Round 4 (projected compensatory pick): Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

Parkinson began the 2019 season with some chatter that suggested he'd end the year as the top tight end in the class. And while he ended the season with 48 catches for 589 yards and a touchdown, it wasn't quite the production expected from a player who was supposed to be the next in the long line of promising Stanford tight ends. 

Parkinson's underwhelming season could be the Bears' gain, however. The best part of his game is his ability as a receiver, which is what Chicago is missing most from its offense right now. If he slides into Day 3 and the Bears end up with a compensatory pick in this range, he'd certainly be a viable target.

Round 5 (from Eagles): K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

Why not tap into the Stanford program twice on Day 3? This time, the Bears go with the guy who was throwing passes to Parkinson. Costello is a solid Day-3 quarterback prospect who has some physical limitations and an awkward throwing motion, but it's critical that Pace adds a developmental passer to the roster even if it's just to become a long-term backup for Trubisky (assuming Trubisky keeps the job).

Costello's been injured all season and was limited to just five games in what was supposed to be a senior year that put him in the first-round conversation. Instead, he'll slide into the third day (at least, he should). He'd make a lot of sense for the Bears, especially from a public relations standpoint. He isn't quite good enough to legitimately challenge Trubisky in 2020, but he has enough talent to potentially develop into a respectable starter down the road.

Round 7: Tucker McCann (K, Missouri)

Kicker alert! Would the Bears dare using a draft pick on a kicker? It seems highly unlikely, especially since Eddy Pineiro is beginning to play better. He's made all of his field-goal attempts during Chicago's three-game winning streak.

That said, Pineiro is connecting on just 76% of his kicks this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Not good.

Pace is a pretty loyal guy, and with Pineiro kicking under some of the most intense pressure of any kicking situation in the NFL, one could argue he's weathered the storm pretty well.

The next three games will determine whether Pineiro's roster spot is safe in 2020. If he remains hot, he'll be back. It's as simple as that.

Here is the total Bears' mock draft:

Round 2: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Round 2: Alaric Jackson, OL, Iowa
Round 4: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Round 5: K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford
Round 5: Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
Round 5: Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt
Round 6: Tyler Higby, G, Michigan State
Round 7: Tucker McCann, K, Missouri

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