Bears

Why Mitchell Trubisky will be the Bears' QB GOAT

Why Mitchell Trubisky will be the Bears' QB GOAT

With Sunday Night Football’s GOAT campaign running all week to promote this Sunday’s marquee matchup between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, we got to thinking about Bears GOATs. And we realized, we may actually be watching one right now.

Believe it or not, Mitchell Trubisky is on pace to have the greatest season for a quarterback in Chicago Bears history. And if he continues to develop—and stays healthy—he could end up with the greatest career in franchise history, too.  Let’s start by looking at the single season records. 

Erik Kramer put up the most passing yards (3,838) and passing touchdowns (29) in one season in 1995. That year the Bears finished 9-7, but lost a tiebreaker to the Atlanta Falcons and missed the playoffs.

This season, Trubisky has thrown for 1,814 yards and 15 TDs through 7 games. That puts him on pace to crush Kramer’s records with 4,146 yards and 34 TDs. Still not convinced? Let’s dig into the career records.

Right now, Jay Cutler sits atop most of the Bears all-time QB records, due in large part to the fact that he’s had one of the longest careers under center in Chicago. Over eight seasons with the Bears, Cutler amassed 23,443 yards and 154 touchdowns, each of those numbers franchise records. After 19 starts, Trubisky is sitting at 4,007 yards and 22 touchdowns.

If Trubisky keeps that exact same pace, he would break Cutler’s passing yards record in about 112 games—or seven seasons—and Cutler’s touchdowns record in about 134 games—or just over eight seasons. And if Trubisky continues to develop in Matt Nagy’s offense, it’s not hard to imagine he’ll break those records even sooner.

If you want to take longevity out of the equation, you can point to a couple of performance-based metrics: QB rating and completion percentage. As it stands, Trubisky is actually the leader in career QB rating among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 500 passes. His 86.1 rating just edges out Cutler at 85.2.

The margin for the completion percentage record is even tighter with Cutler at 61.8 percent and Trubisky at 61.6 (again limiting the list to quarterbacks who’ve attempted more than 500 passes).

We can’t forget championships either, arguably the most important mark of a GOAT. Sadly, for the Bears franchise, that bar is set pretty low with Jim McMahon leading the way at one. If Nagy, Trubisky and the vaunted defense can put a championship season together, Trubisky immediately jumps to the short list of Bears greats. 

Finally, one last critical factor in judging a player’s GOAT-worthiness is their nickname. MJ is “His Airness” and of course he’s the original “GOAT.” LeBron is “The King,” Gretzky “The Great One,” Ruth “The Great Bambino” or “The Sultan of Swat.” You get the point.

So how about Cutler? He was known as “Cutty” and I guess if you count memes “Smokin’ Jay,” although that last one wasn’t really a testament to Cutler’s greatness. Even Rex Grossman did a little better with “Sexy Rexy.” But in this department Trubisky stands above all the rest: “Biscuit,” “Pretty Boy Assassin,” “Tru,”… honestly they’re all gold.

So, when you’re watching Brady and Rodgers go head-to-head this Sunday just remember, you could be watching a GOAT every week when the Bears take the field.

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Should the Bears sign free agent running back Devonta Freeman?

Should the Bears sign free agent running back Devonta Freeman?

Former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman remains unsigned after being released earlier this offseason following a 2019 season that totaled 14 games and a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.

Freeman, who earned back-to-back trips to the Pro Bowl in 2015-16, was at one time considered one of the NFL's top dual-threat running backs. His best season came in 2015 when he ran for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding another 578 yards and three scores as a receiver. In 2016, he ran for a career-best 1,079 yards and 11 scores.

Injuries derailed what was a promising start to his career. He hasn't played a full 16 games in any of the last three years and in 2018, he missed 14 games with foot and groin injuries. 

Are Freeman's best days behind him? Maybe. Running backs tend to decline the closer they get to 30 years old, and at 28, Freeman is inching closer to the end of his career than its beginning. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have value for a team like the Bears, who lack any semblance of depth behind starter David Montgomery.

Chicago's running back depth chart is void of any real NFL talent behind Montgomery and Tarik Cohen, and let's face it, Cohen is more of a satellite weapon than he is a true running back.

So what's stopping the Bears from pursuing Freeman? Money.

Freeman is holding out for a reasonable payday that, apparently, involves demands beyond what the Seahawks offered in May (one-year, $4 million). The Bears, who still have in-house business to take care of, including an extension for wide receiver Allen Robinson, aren't going to offer Freeman a contract in that range. And they shouldn't. Montgomery is the unquestioned starter and that won't change even if a player like Freeman is added. As a result, he'll get a contract consistent with what's paid to a backup with starter's upside.

Remember: Freeman signed a five-year, $41.2 million extension with the Falcons in 2017, and like most players who believe they still have a lot left in the tank, he doesn't appear willing to lower his value by such an extreme amount.

Still, the market will determine Freeman's next deal. And if he's still hanging around and unsigned as training camp approaches, the Bears could find themselves in a favorable position to land an extremely talented running back at a mega-discount.

Chicago's offense will hinge on how productive the running game is in 2020. It would make sense to improve its chances of success by adding more talent. Freeman could be that guy, at the right price.

What would 1985 Chicago Bears look like if they played in 2020?

What would 1985 Chicago Bears look like if they played in 2020?

“We’re gonna do the shuffle then ring your bell,” sang Gary Fencik back in 1985. 

The updated lyrics in 2020 would be: “We’re gonna do the shuffle then get a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.” 

Football today is a largely different game compared to when the Bears won their only Super Bowl in franchise history. You’ll see that when Super Bowl XX is aired on NBC this Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. But as I went back and watched some highlights ahead of catching the full game on Sunday, I wondered: What from the ’85 Bears would still work in the NFL today?

MORE: 10 crazy stats about the 1985 Bears

Talent, of course, transcends eras. Walter Payton would still be a great running back in 2020. Richard Dent would still be one of those pass rushers offenses have to gameplan around. Mike Singletary’s versatility, toughness and instincts would make him one of the league’s top linebackers. But that’s not what I was wondering. 

The Bears’ first offensive play of Super Bowl XX — on which Payton lost a fumble — came with two wide receivers, one tight end, one running back and one fullback on the field, otherwise known as 21 personnel. There was nothing odd about it back then. 

Only 8 percent of the NFL’s plays in 2019 used 21 personnel. 

The San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings were the only two teams to use 21 personnel on more than 20 percent of their plays, and both teams made the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo, remember, threw eight passes while the 49ers throttled the Green Bay Packers on their way to the Super Bowl back in January. 

Payton and Matt Suhey would’ve been just fine in today’s NFL running from under center quite a bit. But consider this: Jim McMahon’s passer rating in 1985 was 82.6, good for seventh-best in the league. Mitch Trubisky’s passer rating in 2019 was 83.0, ranking him 28th. 

How about Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense? 

I dug up this video we did a few years ago with Rex Ryan explaining his dad’s defense — which, while it turned out to be great at stopping the run, was actually designed to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Check it out:

The Bears’ defense in 1985 is, arguably, the best in NFL history. The Bears held opponents to 3.7 yards per carry and 12.4 points per game, the lowest averages in the league. Dent led the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks and, maybe the most mind-blowing stat of all: The Bears’ defense allowed 16 passing touchdowns and had 34 interceptions. 

But putting eight guys in the box doesn’t seem like a sound strategy in today’s pass-happy, 11 personnel-heavy league — a league that often forces defensive coordinators’ base packages to be in nickel. To wit: San Francisco’s Tevin Coleman faced the highest percentage of “loaded” boxes in 2019, with 40.2 percent of his 137 rushing attempts coming with eight or more defenders near the line of scrimmage. 

The Bears’ defense only had to defend multiple backs (i.e. a running back and a fullback) on 120 plays in 2019. 

So the 46 defense might not work in 2020. Then again, who would doubt Ryan’s ability to coordinate a good defense against today’s modern NFL landscape?

This is all building to my overarching feeling thinking about the 1985 Bears: They'd be fine in today's NFL. Greatness can transcend era. It might take a few tweaks and they wouldn't look the same as you'll see on NBC Sports Network on Sunday afternoon. 

But who am I to say one of the greatest teams of all time wouldn't be great in any era? 

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