How Jared Goff’s rookie year could be a cautionary tale for Mitch Trubisky

How Jared Goff’s rookie year could be a cautionary tale for Mitch Trubisky

Without Cameron Meredith, perhaps the biggest question facing the Bears entering the 2017 season is who, if anyone, can step up to fill the production void left by that brutal injury he suffered in Tennessee.

But Meredith’s injury opened up another question: Might it mean Mitch Trubisky won’t see the field as quickly as we might’ve thought based on his excellent preseason?

If the answer to that question is yes, it may have less to do with Trubisky’s own development and the desire to put him in the best possible situation when he makes his regular season debut. And while Trubisky very well could be a guy who makes receivers around him better — which would be the best-case scenario — it’s worth considering the worst case here.

And the closest thing we’ve seen to that worst case happened to Jared Goff last year.

Goff sat out the Los Angeles Rams’ first nine games before coach Jeff Fisher, faced with a 4-5 record and a struggling Case Keenum (9 TDs, 11 INTs), anointed last year’s No. 1 overall pick as the team’s starting quarterback. The Rams lost their next four games, leading to Fisher’s firing, and then finished out the year with three more defeats. Goff’s stats were horrendous: A 54.6 completion percentage, 1,089 yards, 5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a rating of 63.6 to go along with an 0-7 record.

Benny Cunningham had an up-close look at how bad things got last year in Los Angeles, and said the problem wasn’t necessarily Goff, but the rest of the offense not helping him.

“I would say that the situation with Jared Goff was kind of unfair to him because I feel like as a whole offense, we struggled,” Cunningham, who signed with the Bears in March, said. “As a quarterback, being drafted high, you take most of the criticism. But I feel like if the guys around him can help — that’s any quarterback — if the guys around you can execute and help, it makes your job a lot easier.

“… I just felt like in general we all struggled as an offense. I wouldn’t say he struggled by himself. It’s different when you’re on the inside looking out, you can see exactly what’s going on the depth of a receiver, a missed block by a running back — you see everything. And then in the paper you read the quarterback had two interceptions, so you really don’t get to see the whole detail of it. I feel like everybody played a part in what happened last year.

“… I feel like we failed as an offense. If you look back to the points we put up, the yards per game, as a whole, I just feel like we failed. I feel like the quarterback position in this league, in a lot of places, they take the criticism.”

The Rams’ offensive line was shaky, and while Kenny Britt turned in a 1,000-yard season, Goff lacked a speedy target who could stretch a defense. As a result, opposing defenses continually stacked the box, limiting the effectiveness of running back Todd Gurley (3.2 yards/carry).

As a result, the Rams were last in the NFL in points per game (14) and yards per play (4.4).

[RELATED: Rams radio broadcaster J.B. Long on the Bears Talk Podcast]

The parallels aren’t perfect between the 2016 Rams and 2017 Bears, of course. This year’s Bears have a better offensive line, for one. Trubisky in his first three preseason games has thoroughly out-performed what Goff did in his 2016 preseason, too:

Trubisky: 34/48 (70.8 completion percentage), 354 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 sacks

Goff: 22/49 (44.9 completion percentage), 232 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 4 sacks

More than anything, though, Trubisky and Goff are different quarterbacks. Trubisky may be able to make a bad situation better. But Goff’s struggles are worth noting as the question of when, not if, Trubisky plays continues to be asked.

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long knows he messed up, and is ready to do what it takes to put the fighting incidents behind him

Kyle Long understands the position he’s put himself in. 

It wasn’t a week to remember for the Bears’ starting guard, who got into two separate fights over the span of three practices. Despite the relatively small likelihood he would have played, as punishment, Long was subsequently left off the team flight to New York for their preseason game against the Giants. 

“Obviously, what I did was absolutely unacceptable,” Long said after Tuesday’s practice. “As a human being, as a teammate, without question what I did was uncalled for. It was so far over the line that it was on me to handle that internally, and speak to the people that I needed to speak to.” 

Everyone around Halas Hall chalked up Long’s first scuffle with Akiem Hicks as nothing more than training camp frustrations. “Let’s clarify this: Everybody has a temper,’’ Hicks said. ‘‘Everybody gets upset. If somebody spills their coffee, you’re gonna get upset.

It was the second fight — one that saw Long remove undrafted rookie defensive end Jalen Dalton’s helmet, hit him with it, and then toss said helmet off the field — that forced the Bears’ hand. 

“It reflected poorly on the organization, the city, and the offensive line room,” he said. “That was never my intention. Moving forward, I intend to make living amends.”

Long wouldn’t go into much depth about the reason behind either fight, only mentioning that he “got a little frustrated, and it boiled over.” Talking with media after practice, he stressed the importance of publicly clearing the air before he, or the team, could move forward. 

“I think it's important and I know that the fans have a very close eye or touch on the pulse of the team of what's going on,” he said. “If I’m a fan, the last thing I want to hear about is a fight at practice. It's a distraction from what we're trying to do, which is go out and get ready for the Packers eventually and go put together some wins in the football season.” 

Before the whistle, Long’s had one of the best camps of a career that’s now going on seven seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler said that he hasn’t been this healthy since his rookie year, and that he’d “put this camp up there with any of them [he’d] be apart of.” With the air cleared and all parties on the same page, both Long and the Bears consider the fights a closed case. 

“We’re past it,” Matt Nagy added. “Now it’s not about talking anymore. For us, it’s about everybody showing what we can do. It’s showing by your actions, whether that’s being a good football player or being a good person. 

“I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t talk about it; be about it.’ So it’s time to start being about it.”

Bears now tied for best odds to reach Super Bowl from NFC


Bears now tied for best odds to reach Super Bowl from NFC

The Bears haven’t shown what their 2019 starters can do yet this preseason, but the oddsmakers in Las Vegas seem to be on board with Matt Nagy’s plans for the upcoming season.

The money is coming in on Chicago to win the Super Bowl, and the most popular sportsbooks shifted the odds for the Bears to win the conference.

They’re now tied for the best chances to reach the Super Bowl from the NFC at both MGM and Westgate, according to CBS Sports.

Both books see the Bears and Saints as favorites at 5/1 odds, while Westgate views the Rams and Eagles as equally likely.

MGM is much higher on the Packers’ chances, and both have the Vikings in the top seven.

The path to a Super Bowl berth is never easy, and Chicago will have as difficult a path as any team with two other contenders in the division.

Every single team on the odds list appears on the Bears 2019 regular-season schedule.