Bears

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Maybe they should be used to this by now. But facing young, relatively inexperienced quarterbacks, something defenses are supposed to fatten up on, has not been a positive for the John Fox Bears. And now here comes another one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will be one of four first-or-second-year starting quarterbacks on the Bears’ 2016 schedule, following Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles), Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) and ahead of Marcus Mariota, who arrives to Soldier Field in two weeks leading the Tennessee Titans. The Bears lost to the first two.

And last year the Bears were outscored 61-37 in two losses to the Minnesota Vikings and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They managed to escape Tampa with a win despite Winston’s 295 passing yards and two touchdown passes, and defeated the Oakland Raiders and second-year quarterback Derek Carr, albeit only through a Robbie Gould field goal with two seconds remaining.

Brock Osweiler wasn’t a rookie or second-year guy in 2015 but he was starting his first NFL game last season when he and the Denver Broncos defeated the Bears, 17-15, in Chicago.

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has not produced the impact of some others among the kid-QB corps. His passer rating (85.4) is about what it was his rookie season (84.2), his completion percentage remains sub-60 and his interception rate again hovers near 3 percent — all numbers not up to the performances of the others mentioned above.

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But Winston is seeing differences. After losing three straight, Winston brought the Bucs to .500 with road wins over the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers before stumbling the last two weeks in home losses to the Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.

“The goal is to get better every day, so I'm definitely ahead as far as my preparation from last year to this year,” Winston said on Wednesday. “I don't really see a difference in other teams as far as scheming against us. The difference for me as a player is just being able to process information and just being very familiar with the playbook.”

The early performance of a young quarterback again is worth considering given the likelihood of the Bears investing a high-round pick in one in the 2017 draft.

That involves a commitment, as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter knows from being Tampa Bay offensive coordinator last year when the decision to go with Winston over Mariota was made.

“That’s an entire organization decision,” Koetter recalled. “So that goes from ownership, management, down into coaching. And I would think that you would be signing up for patience.

“I was the offensive coordinator when we drafted Jameis and lucky to be that. But the whole patience thing, that’s sometimes in other people’s hands. So I look at Carolina as a good example in our [NFC South] division. They drafted a quarterback [Cam Newton]. They drafted a middle linebacker [Luke Kuechly]. They built around those guys. I think [Carolina is] a good model for us as someone who has been in the division for five years now.”

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.