Why the Bears’ blowout win over Buffalo could be a sign of good things to come

Why the Bears’ blowout win over Buffalo could be a sign of good things to come

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Maybe the only time the Bears weren’t in control of their 41-9 thwacking of the Buffalo Bills was when Aaron Lynch thrusted his hips too many times after a sack. Or too slowly. 
“I’ll probably get the same amount in in a shorter time period,” Lynch said, cracking up himself and a group of reporters assembled around his locker. “So I’ll probably go a little faster this week.”
That penalty allowed the Bills to score their only touchdown of the game, which came when Nathan Peterman plunged a couple feet into the end zone for the first rushing score allowed by the Bears in 2018. But other than that, the Bears’ defense shut down a Bills team that, while severely sub-optimal, did manage to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road and gave the Green Bay Packers’ offense some problems this year, too. 
On a more serious note, Lynch made a persuasive point about why the Bears shouldn’t take for granted what they did against Peterman and the Bills’ offense on Sunday. 
“Nick Mullens, San Fran, stepped up, balled out,” Lynch, a former San Francisco 49er, said. “Peterman could’ve done the same thing. But we stepped up as a defense as a whole, as a whole team and came out here and played a good game.”
The Bears (5-3) controlled their meeting with the Bills (2-7) game from start to finish, even if the final stats didn’t necessarily bear that out on the surface. The Bills out-gained the Bears, 264 to 190, while running 81 plays (to the Bears’ 46) and possessing the ball for 34 minutes and three seconds (to the Bears’ 25:57). The Bears became the first team in 2018 to win a game in which their offense totaled fewer than 200 yards — something no team in the last 15 years has done more than the Bears (seven times). 
And yet, there never felt like the Bills had a legitimate chance of even being competitive with the Bears, let alone winning on a picturesque fall Sunday in western New York. There’s something to be said for that.
“All three phases played really well, so you can keep building on what you’re doing well and fortunately there’s a lot of things that we’re doing well right now,” tight end Trey Burton said. “So we gotta keep building on it.”
Burton would know — while with the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, he saw what kind of an impact controlling games start-to-finish can have on a team. And even then, the Eagles’ largest margin of victory last year in the regular season was 28 points. The Bears have won games, now, by 38 (against Tampa Bay) and 32 (against Buffalo) points. 
That’s not saying the Bears are a better team than last year’s Eagles, of course, but it is pointing out how difficult it is to win by such wide margins in the NFL.
“We’re staying hungry, we’re not getting complacent, we want to keep being the best defense, we want to keep being a better team,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “Each week we want to keep putting the most into it and getting the most out of it. That’s the difference between our team now. We work hard, but we know what our goal is, and we push one another. And that way our team keeps getting better.”
There’s something to be said for winning multiple games in a season by 30 or more points, too. The 2018 Bears are the 28th team to do so in the last 10 years, and of those teams, 21 made the playoffs, and only one of those teams finished under .500 (which was the 2014 Carolina Panthers, which made the postseason with a 7-8-1 record). 
So looking at the Bears’ blowout win over the Bills from the lens of the Peterman-led Bills being a bad team is too narrow of a viewpoint. The Bears are a good team, and good teams don’t always do to bad teams what the Bears did to the Bills on Sunday. 
The Bears’ 2018 outlook will come into focus between now and Thanksgiving, but they’ll head into that critical three-game stretch against the NFC North buoyed by comfortable-to-dominant wins over the New York Jets and Bills. 
“The positive moments — us getting up big, early, so as long as we just came together and kept our foot on the gas,” wide receiver Taylor Gabriel said, “I feel like we can build on that.” 

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.”