Bears

Bears' Jay Cutler a Super Bowl QB? After 2015, not so unthinkable

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Bears' Jay Cutler a Super Bowl QB? After 2015, not so unthinkable

In the endless local ruminations as to how close to or far from a Super Bowl are the Bears, in one area they at least have one box checked.

Jay Cutler was the 2006 No. 1 draft choice of the Denver Broncos, 11th overall (same as Ben Roethlisberger). Of the eight remaining playoff teams, six are there with quarterbacks who were No. 1 draft choices:

Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith (No. 1, 2005)

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers (No. 24, 2005)

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer (No. 1, 2003)

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton (No. 1, 2011)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger (No. 11, 2004)

Broncos: Peyton Manning (No. 1, 1998)

The number would be seven of eight had Blair Walsh converted a 27-yard field goal that would have put the Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, 2014) into the divisional round instead of Russell Wilson, Seattle’s third-round pick in the 2012 draft.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

That’s strictly an FWIW. Obviously draft position is less than zero guarantee of landing a player capable of getting his team even close to a Super Bowl. And defense is obviously critical; six of the eight divisional teams rank in the top 10 in fewest points allowed. Cutler being a No. 1 simply puts him in the same general trivia question as Terry Baker, Tim Couch, Jeff George, JaMarcus Russell and other 1’s of history.

Is he potentially good enough? is more relevant given his 2015 season jump-starting his skills application.

Quarterback play is the common thread through teams advancing to the divisional-round level. Seven of the eight quarterbacks boast passer ratings better than Cutler’s 92.3 for 2015, with only Manning lower-rated than Cutler in what has been an injury nightmare of a season for Manning. So he’s statistically not really up to where the tall dogs run.

Is Cutler at a level capable of getting a team deep into playoffs? Quarterbacks with considerably less than his talent level have won rings (e.g., Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson, Mark Rypien). But for all of the importance on complimentary football and structuring a team and offense that don’t require Cutler to be a superstar, chances of your team playing more than 16 games in a season rise considerably if your quarterback is one.

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson was signed in free agency to become the alpha dog of the Chicago Bears' wide receiver corps. The three-year, $42 million contract that general manager Ryan Pace signed him to is proof of how high expectations are for the fifth-year pro.

Robinson isn't coming to Chicago with a flawless resume, however. His massive breakout year in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns) was followed by a pedestrian 883 yards in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. That begs the question: Is the forecast for Robinson's impact in 2018 too high right now?

According to Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar, the answer is yes. Robinson was named as the Bear most likely to disappoint this season.

Robinson practiced for the first time since the injury during the Bears' May minicamp, but it's safe to say Chicago isn't sure what it has in Robinson. If he gets back to his 2015 numbers, that would be huge for the Bears' passing offense, but given his 2016 regression and the specter of the 2017 injury, that's a tough bet.

Robinson will have an impact that goes beyond the traditional box score, and it will happen this season. Is he a lock to reach 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns? No, but his presence on the field will be enough to see a return on investment. The Bears haven't had the kind of threat he poses to defenses in several seasons, and his ability to pull a defensive coordinator's attention away from the running game will do wonders for Chicago's offensive output.

Determining whether Robinson is a disappointment in 2018 will depend on who's evaluating his season. Sure, he may disappoint in fantasy football circles if he doesn't re-emerge as a game-changing stat monster. But if he makes the Bears offense a more well-rounded and productive group, he'll live up to the expectations set by Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

As long as Robinson is pleasing Pace and Nagy, nothing else really matters.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.