Bears

Will Tom Brady be the Bears' starting QB in 2020?

Will Tom Brady be the Bears' starting QB in 2020?

By the time his career is over, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have a very strong argument to be considered the greatest player in NFL history. And even if there's a debate about his status as the best who's ever played, there's no denying his standing as the league's all-time greatest winner.

His six Super Bowl titles are evidence of that.

Brady is a throwback to the days before free agency and player movement. He's been a Patriot for his entire career, one that started in 2000 as the unassuming sixth-round pick from Michigan. Now, 20 seasons later (only four players in league history have spent that much time with one team), we could be witnessing his final year in New England.

ESPN's Adam Schefter suggested all signs are pointing toward Brady eyeing a new challenge in 2020. He voided the final year of his contract and is putting his home up for sale (as is his longtime trainer). 

He's gone. 

That begs the following question: what destinations make sense for Brady next season? Buckle up, Bears fans:

Brady and the Patriots are off to one of the best starts in franchise history. He's completing 65.9% of his passes (one of the best completion rates of his career) and hasn't lost any juice from his fastball. He's taking advantage of the incredible start by New England's defense and continues to prove, year after year, that productive offenses don't necessarily need superstar skill players. Instead, it starts with strong offensive line play and a quarterback who knows how to win games. The Patriots are 7-0.

It's shaping up to be a great final act, the momentum of which he can bring to a city like Chicago.

Brady to the Bears would make a ton of sense. First, Chicago's defense is in the second season of a legitimate championship window. And while there will be a few departures and some new faces added this offseason, the core will remain the same. That defense, with Brady leading the offense, is a recipe for NFC dominance.

Second, Brady has the kind of pinpoint accuracy to take advantage of wide receiver Allen Robinson's my-ball skill set. He'd also force opposing defenses to respect the passing game, which by default will make the running game better. He'll enhance the entire offense just by stepping onto the field.

Third, and most important, Brady can stare Aaron Rodgers in the eyes and make him flinch. For the first time in modern franchise history, the Bears would have the best quarterback in the NFC North, and on any given week, the best quarterback in the NFL.

Sure, Brady is getting old. He's going to be 43 at the start of next season. And yes, eventually, Father Time will catch up with him. But there's no reason to believe his end is right around the corner. So if the Bears can harness one year of Brady, with Mack leading the defense, it would be like football heaven opening above Chicago.

Speculation like this, even if it's nothing more than a far-fetched pipe-dream, is the direct result of Mitch Trubisky's struggles. If the third-year quarterback was having the kind of breakout year that was expected of him in 2019, no quarterback (not even Brady) would be in the Chicago sports conversation. The Bears would have their guy; a young gunslinger who can wow fans with his athleticism and playmaking ability. Instead, entering Week 8, there are as many questions surrounding the quarterback position in Chicago as there's ever been, dating back to before then-GM Jerry Angelo traded for Jay Cutler.

It's only natural for fans and football media to connect an all-time great like Brady to an all-time great franchise like the Bears who have what could be an all-time great defense, especially when the team is lacking what appears to be an even average quarterback.

Trubisky can silence this kind of conversation with a strong final 10 games of the season. But at this point, and with Brady potentially hitting the market this offseason, do you even want him to?

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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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Lovie Smith, Mike Tirico discuss systemic racism, nationwide protests

Lovie Smith, Mike Tirico discuss systemic racism, nationwide protests

Old Bears friend and current beardless Illinois football coach Lovie Smith stopped by NBC's 'Lunch Time Live' to chat with Mike Tirico about the current protests taking place in cities all across the country. 

Smith talked about how he's always encouraged his players to take an active involvement in what's happening off the field, and also addressed what he feels should be the next steps taken. 

You can watch the conversation between Smith and Tirico in the video below: