Bears-Titans game contains multiple QB elements, good and bad

Bears-Titans game contains multiple QB elements, good and bad

One amusing narrative from critics of Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox is that they need desperately to find a franchise quarterback in the draft, but also that they have not shown enough talent aptitude to be trusted with such a vital mission. Failure to reverse Bears fortunes in the span of two drafts is cited as a reason, which is curious, given that draft “failures” under Pace almost entirely trace to injuries (Kevin White, Eddie Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Leonard Floyd early) rather than to clearly recognized mistakes as in Phil Emery’s first drafts (Shea McClellin, Brandon Hardin, Evan Rodriguez, Jonathan Bostic, Khaseem Greene).

Pace and the Bears were enamored of quarterback Marcus Mariota when he was coming out of Oregon into the 2015 draft, where he would be taken No. 2 overall by the Tennessee Titans. The Bears did not aggressively shop Jay Cutler as part of any proposed deal to move up from No. 7 (where they took White). But they did check the price for trading up and opted to stay with Cutler (at Adam Gase’s urging) and their basket of picks as part of a wider span of upgrades.

But “we liked [Mariota] a lot in the process when he was coming out,” Fox said. “He's proved to be about what we thought he was I know in our evaluations.”

For the Pace-Fox doubters, at least this Bears administration appears to have some solid instincts (the non-selection of Dak Prescott three times in round four this year notwithstanding).

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Consider those as might-have-been quarterback things for an organization with a history of quarterback “things,” mostly bad. George Halas acquired Bobby Layne via trade at No. 7 of the 1948 draft but subsequently sold him to Detroit and spent the 1950’s being tormented by him. The Bears lost a coin flip with the Steelers in 1970 for the No. 1 pick overall. The Steelers got Terry Bradshaw. The Bears…didn’t.

The Bears had the No. 7 pick (what is it with this “7” thing and the Bears?) in 1999, decided that Cade McNown was the most NFL-ready quarterback in a class that included Tim Couch (No. 1), Donovan McNabb (2) and Akili Smith (3). So they were the deciding member of a three-team trade with New Orleans and Washington, because they were willing to pass on Daunte Culpepper and grab McNown at No. 12.

The organization is still dealing with the most recent quarterback “thing,” the trade of two No. 1’s for Jay Cutler in 2009. One hindsight question would be whether the Bears might have been better served using one of those picks on a quarterback. Those classes, however, turned out decidedly not-ready-for-first-round quarterbacks (Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, even Sam Bradford) other than Matthew Stafford.

Mariota has turned the Titans around and has a full grasp of what hitting on the right quarterback means to a franchise.

“[A franchise quarterback] is a position that, for me, can determine a lot of things, whether it’s wins and losses, how you are reflected in the community, what people think of this team,” Mariota said via conference call. “A lot of that stems from the position of quarterback.”

Just ask the Bears.

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

USA Today

Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

Eddie Jackson is hosting a charity softball game this Saturday, June 15th at Schamburg Boomers stadium at 5:05pm. It’ll be offense vs defense so let’s take an early look at what these lineups might look like for both teams.


1. Eddie Jackson

Has home run hitting ability in the leadoff spot and a flair for the dramatic. This rising star puts the pressure on the opposing pitcher from the very first pitch. Plus it’s his game, so of course he’s batting first.

2. Kyle Fuller

Tied for the NFL interception lead in 2018, Fuller’s combination of speed, instincts and film study  at the top of the lineup helps set the table for the big bats.

3. Akiem Hicks

As Ed O’Bradovich said at the 100 year celebration this past weekend, Khalil Mack “is a man-eater, but (Akiem Hicks) is the man who makes it happen.” It’s long been said you put your most important hitter in the 3-hole.

4. Khalil Mack

The quintessential cleanup hitter. Who else would you want in this spot?

5. Danny Trevathan

Provides world champion protection behind Mack in the likely event that the opponent tries to pitch around #52.

6. Roquan Smith

Just when an opponent think they’ve gotten thru the heart of the lineup, the 2018 rookie who came up just shy of Brian Urlacher’s franchise tackling mark is there to “break a man,” as he said right after his Bears intro press conference.

7. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix

Sliding this new addition into the 7-hole takes some of the pressure off of him to make an immediate impact, while also trapping pitchers into thinking they might get a break against a guy who has shown big play ability in the past.

8. Bilal Nichols

One of the most underrated players in the entire league is perfectly fine lurking at the bottom of the order. A second cleanup hitter, he’s happy consistently performing and making his teammates better. Everyone in this lineup knows how valuable he is.

9. Leonard Floyd

Still in a bit of a prove it spot, but if he consistently plays the way he’s shown shown flashes of, he could not only be dangerous in this spot, but he could climb up the lineup pretty quickly.

10. Prince Amukamara

Veteran who knows he’s there to do a job and turn the lineup over. His speed and ball skills make him a threat.

11. Buster Skrine

Another newcomer, let’s see what he’s got at the bottom of the order.


1. Taylor Gabriel   *Anthony Miller

We can all agree there’s no reason for Miller, a guy who dislocated his shoulder multiple times to be swinging a bat amiright?? Miller has the Willie Mayes Hayes swag you want from the leadoff man when healthy tho.

As for ‘Turbo’ Taylor Gabriel, of course you’re putting a guy who’s been clocked at 23 mph at the top of the lineup.

2. Tarik Cohen

Perfect spot for the swiss army knife of the offense. Could lay down a bunt and beat it out, move the runner, or even hit one to the gap and clear the bases.

3. Mitch Trubisky

The obvious spot for the leader of the offense and Akiem Hicks’ pick (outside himself) to win the home run derby part of this event. Let’s just hope he breaks out the punky QB headband and sunglasses look again this weekend.

4. Kyle Long

The most veteran member of the offensive line is there to protect the QB. Whether or not he’s even in the lineup, if anyone goes high and tight on # 10, better believe they’ll answer to #75.

5. Cody Whitehair

Some more muscle in the middle of the order. Has made it clear he’s good with moving around the lineup if the coaches think it’s best for the team.

6. Allen Robinson

Based on what we saw in the playoff game, he could be on his way to putting up big numbers anywhere in the batting order. Definitely a guy you want up late with the game on the line.

7. Charles Leno

Flies under the radar at one of the most important positions in football. If a pitcher thinks he’s in the clear after getting past Robinson, Leno will be there to throw a big block into that thinking.

8. Trey Burton / Adam Shaheen

When healthy, they provide some pop towards the bottom of the lineup. Let’s have Anthony Miller ready as the designated runner if these guys can get on base.

9. Bobby Massie

The ultimate team guy as he showed by signing a team friendly deal to stay in Chicago much earlier in the offseason than he had to.

10. James Daniels

As the new man in the middle on the offensive line, the burden falls on him to turn the lineup over and set the table for the speedy top of the order.

11. Mike Davis

Good spot to start for this new addition. Could easily see him towards the top of the lineup if he produces the way Matt Nagy & company thinks he can.

The defense has been ahead of the offense for pretty much the entire Pace/Nagy regime. But if Matt Nagy is involved, there’s sure to be no shortage of hidden ball tricks, squeezes and other trick plays with awesome names, so I might have to give a slight edge to the offense in this game.