Bears

Webb in for Favre? Cutler can't believe it

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Webb in for Favre? Cutler can't believe it

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
Posted 9:22 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre didnt practice Thursday, the first day of real on-field work before Mondays game against the Bears. Hes still having numbness in his hand and shoulder from a tackle that ended his string of consecutive starts at 297. Hes not expected to play against the Bears.

And at least one of the Bears doesnt believe it, or that the Vikings would start rookie Joe Webb even with their season effectively over.

They have a rookie starting? quarterback Jay Cutler said with a touch of incredulity. Possibly, was the response.

Possibly, Cutler said, then chuckled. I wouldnt be surprised if Brett was out there.

If he isnt, or if the Vikings do go with journeyman veteran Patrick Ramsey, the situation will be exponentially more difficult for the Vikings.

With erratic veteran Tarvaris Jackson headed for injured reserve this season and somewhere else next, Webb is an option for the Vikings.

Youve seen it, a few rookies, a few first-time starters going against this defense and its tough, said Cutler, who knows some things about the difficulties posed by the Bears defense. Theyre flying around in that Cover-2 and they play it well and its tough.

Ramsey, who is on his ninth NFL team since being a No. 1 pick of the Washington Redskins in 2002, would help.

Great guy, great teammate, said Cutler, who played with Ramsey in Denver. I really enjoyed my time with Patrick. Smart guy. Hes not going to hurt them. Hes going to take what our defense gives him, going against a Cover-2 team like we are. Hes done it before so he knows what hes up against. Hes a guy who could learn a system in a week and be ready to play. If he has to start, hell do the job, hell do well.

Sick bay

The Bears got some good news Thursday when strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who has missed three of the last four games with knee surgery, was able to practice on a limited basis and is likely to be available Monday for Minnesota, wherever that game ends up being. Running back Chester Taylor also was limited with knee soreness.

Cornerback Charles Tillman did not practice due to foot soreness.

For their part the Vikings were in considerably worse shape. Besides Favre, guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb), running back Adrian Peterson (ankleknee), safety Tyrell Johnson (knee) and safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion) were unable to practice. Defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle) was limited in practice.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Bears general manager Ryan Pace didn't come across as a guy willing to go down in flames with his decision to sign tight end Trey Burton back in 2018 when he met with the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday. Instead, he confirmed the Bears will be heavily invested in the tight end market this offseason, both in free agency and the 2020 NFL draft.

"We’re looking at it in free agency and the draft," Pace said of this year's available tight ends. "It’s deep in different areas. That’s an area of focus for us, I don’t think that’s a secret. This offense, a lot of it goes through the tight end, so we’re exploring every avenue."

It's hard to envision a scenario where Pace would be willing to travel down the big-money free-agent path again, but Falcons pass-catcher Austin Hooper could be too tempting to pass up.

Atlanta confirmed on Tuesday Hooper will be allowed to test the open market, and if he ranks high enough on Pace's wish list, we could be setting up to see a $10 million per year offer. It may seem like a waste of resources to tie that much money up in the tight end position (he and Burton would cost the Bears close to $20 million in 2020), but they experienced just how limited Matt Nagy's offense is without a capable playmaker at the position. Hooper would fix that.

The cheaper alternative for Pace to upgrade at tight end would be the draft, where several quality prospects will be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 43 and No. 50 overall. Players like Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, FAU's Harrison Bryant and Notre Dame's Cole Kmet could all be available when the Bears are on the clock, and all three of them would represent a marked uptick in talent for the depth chart.

Pace is being logical and rational when it comes to his evaluation of the tight end group. It's especially impressive considering the top two options currently on the roster -- Burton and Adam Shaheen -- were hand-picked by him and cost Chicago a top-of-the-market free-agent deal and a high draft pick (second round, 2017). 

Pace has a great opportunity to right his wrongs at tight end over the next couple of months.

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears don’t look likely to sign or trade for a true starter to replace Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Pace made clear he expects the 2017 No. 2 overall pick to be his starter in 2020. 

Let’s add an addendum to that, though, based on something Matt Nagy said: Just because Trubisky begins 2020 as the Bears’ starting quarterback does not mean he’ll hold on to that gig for the whole season, or even for half a season. 

In talking about the need to find an offensive identity in 2020, Nagy offered a response that leads you to believe job security won't be close to where it was in 2019:

“We got to figure out what our identity is and that's going to be an objective for us,” Nagy said. “And then last year you heard me say, sometimes it takes five or six weeks. I feel like personally that's always the case, but there's a sense of urgency for us going into this year. It needs to happen sooner.”

It needs to happen sooner. What happens if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement through the first three or four games of 2020, and the Bears’ offense is lacking an identity at the end of September?

If there truly is a sense of urgency to find solutions on offense, then the Bears should consider something they didn’t last year: Changing quarterbacks. 

Chase Daniel was not on the roster to push Trubisky for playing time. He was brought in for his knowledge of the offense as “a little bit of an assistant coach,” as Nagy put it. The Bears figured surrounding Trubisky with as many resources as possible would help him thrive in Nagy’s complex offense. 

What the Bears need — and have indicated they want — is more competition in their quarterback room. That does not necessarily mean, again, luring someone like Teddy Bridgewater to Chicago to start. 

But it does mean adding someone to the roster who at least has a chance to be a better option than Trubisky, if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement. 

Case Keenum could be that guy. Marcus Mariota, too (although Mariota sharing agents Bruce Tollner and Ryan Tollner with Trubisky could complicate any interest in him the Bears might have). Maybe there’s a trade to be made for Andy Dalton after all, if the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to bend to make the money work. 

A free agent signing along those lines and/or a draft pick — it doesn’t have to be a second rounder, either — would put someone on the roster who could be viewed as a legitimate replacement for an ineffective Trubisky. 

“If you're not creating competition around your whole roster, you're not pushing your own guys,” Nagy said.

The Bears didn’t do that at quarterback the last two years. 

But all signs are pointing to that changing in 2020. And while that may not mean an immediate change at starting quarterback, it means a switch during the season could become a real possibility. 

“If we all think that that’s what we want from (Trubisky), from last year, we’re fooling ourselves,” Nagy said. “He knows that and we know that. 

“But at the same time, we need to be real. What’s around him? And that’s where we’re at. I know it’s hard sometimes for all of us to understand that, and you see what’s going on with the instant gratification now, but there is a process for us. I do know that Mitch is very hungry. 

“He understands that we want him to play better, he understands that we want to coach better. So now we cannot worry and dwell about what happened last year. If you do that, you get stuck in the mud. We can’t do it. 

“It’s a clean slate. Now we’ve gotta get better for this year.”

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