Chase Daniel

Should the Bears start Tyler Bray in Week 12 if Mitch Trubisky can't play?

Should the Bears start Tyler Bray in Week 12 if Mitch Trubisky can't play?

Who would've thought entering Week 12 of the 2019 season there would be a legitimate conversation about whether quarterback Tyler Bray should start in place of an injured Mitch Trubisky? Even with a healthy Chase Daniel on the roster?

Bray, 27, has one career regular-season pass attempt (back in 2017) and has bounced from the Bears roster to the practice squad several times since joining the team in 2018. He's been a solid preseason player, however, and finished this summer with an 85.8 rating after completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 608 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

With Trubisky's status for Week 12 up in the air after suffering a hip pointer in Sunday night's loss to the Rams, former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt is calling for Bray -- not Daniel -- to be the starter.

"I would play (Bray), I truly would," Wannstedt said Tuesday on The Score's Mully & Haugh Show. "I would not waste a game or two with Chase Daniel, I wouldn't. I would play this young kid and see if he can do anything, because he played good in the preseason in my opinion."

Chicago's loss to the Rams dropped their record to 4-6 on the year. They have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs. Maybe it really is time to see what Bray has to offer.

"Playoff team, I'd go with Chase if Mitch couldn't play. No playoff team, I'd play the young kid," Wannstedt said.

At this point, why not? The Bears have nothing to lose and we know Daniel doesn't have a future under center in Chicago. Bray may not either, but at 27 years old, he could at least audition to be the team's long-term backup even if GM Ryan Pace moves on from Trubisky.

If there's a week to throw Bray into the lineup it's Week 12 against the Giants, whose secondary is downright atrocious. He'll at least have an opportunity to build some confidence, even if it will be short-lived.

It's a sad reality for Bears fans who had such high hopes in September. 

Bears grades: Trubisky down with a hip pointer and poor showing against Rams

Bears grades: Trubisky down with a hip pointer and poor showing against Rams

QUARTERBACKS: D

Mitch Trubisky was victimized by some less-than-crisp play by his wide receivers early in the game, and his interception looked to be the product of him not being on the same page with Anthony Miller. He did well to make some good throws in rhythm and in the face of pressure, especially early in the game — and the touchdown he threw to Tarik Cohen was a well-placed ball on the running back’s wheel route.

But while Trubisky wasn’t given much help from his supporting cast, gaining 190 yards on 43 passes still represents a disappointing night for him. He missed an open Ben Braunecker on a well-scheme play-action shot, and checked down to Cohen on a play on which the Rams were offsides. He averaged 4.4 yards per attempt, bringing his season total to an NFL-low 5.6 yards per attempt.

Trubisky’s execution of a speed option on third-and-one led to the play being blown up for a loss — he pitched the ball too early to David Montgomery, and had he waited and baited a little bit longer, the play would’ve at least gone for a first down, if not a chunk gain. Coach Matt Nagy said he did not believe Trubisky’s hip injury impacted his decision-making on that play.

Chase Daniel didn’t do anything to provide a spark with the Bears facing a 10-point deficit about 60 seconds before the two-minute warning.

RUNNING BACKS: B-

Cohen’s route setup on linebacker Corey Littleton for his touchdown was superb, and he had a nice 17-yard catch-and-run gain in the first half, too. His 12-yard run was the Bears’ longest of the game.

David Montgomery didn’t have much anywhere to go with Aaron Donald bossing the line of scrimmage, gaining just 31 yards on 14 carries. His 19-yard reception on a swing pass was the Bears’ longest passing play of the game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: F

Miller and Allen Robinson were credited with drops by Pro Football Focus, and it looked like Taylor Gabriel was guilty of a drop, too, after the Bears recovered Todd Gurley’s fumble in the first quarter.

Gabriel and Miller had a few moments and combined to pick up five first downs, but Robinson was smothered by his ex-Jaguars teammate Jalen Ramsay, catching four passes on six targets for just 15 yards.

No fault, though, goes to Miller for streaking open in the first quarter, only to have Rams safety Marqui Christian make an excellent play to break up what would’ve been an 83-yard touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS: F

Braunecker wasn’t given an opportunity to haul in what would’ve been a chunk play off play action in the second quarter, with Trubisky sailing the pass over him as he seemed to find a soft spot in the Rams’ zone. Otherwise, Braunecker, J.P. Hotlz and Bradley Sowell (who played only two snaps) were non-factors both in the run game and pass game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D

Both Rashaad Coward and James Daniels were punished by Donald, who had two sacks and four quarterback hits in a dominant performance. The bar was set high for this group after they muted Donald’s impact last year at Soldier Field, but they fell short of it on Sunday. Trubisky was under pressure for a little under 33 percent of his drop backs, and there weren’t many holes for Montgomery or Cohen to hit, again.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-

Credit this group for rebounding after being pushed around a bit in the first half, in which Gurley ran for 64 of his 97 yards on 12 carries (5.3 yards/attempt). Gurley managed only 35 yards on 13 carries in the final 30 minutes, which felt more in like with the talent on the Bears’ front (even without Akiem Hicks) going against a depleted Rams offensive line.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-

Leonard Floyd played well against the run and had the Bears’ only quarterback hit of the game. But even though the Rams did everything they could to scheme Khalil Mack out of making an impact — with Goff rarely dropping back and extra players committed to blocking Mack when he did — it was jarring to not see the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history not even show up on the box score on Sunday.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A

Roquan Smith was all over the field and played his best game of 2019, notching a team-high 11 tackles while picking off Goff in the first quarter (it was his second career interception, and both have been on throws by Goff). His sideline-to-sideline speed and physicality were awfully welcome sights as the Bears played their first game without Danny Trevathan since 2017. Smith, notably, was key in stuffing Gurley short of the line to gain on two third-and-shorts.

CORNERBACKS: C

Without Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks lining up across from them, the Bears still allowed chunk plays to Cooper Kupp (50 yards) and Josh Reynolds (26 yards) that set up the Rams’ only two touchdowns of the game, though siloing off the cornerbacks here may not be totally fair given they might’ve expected safety help over the top.

Kyle Fuller dropped what would’ve been a go-ahead pick-six late in the third quarter, a play that felt like one the 2018 Bears would’ve made, but not the 2019 Bears.

SAFETIES: B

Eddie Jackson had his most impactful game of 2019, forcing a fumble (recovered by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and hitting as hard as we’ve seen him hit in 2019. He stuck his nose in on a third-and-two run stuff of Gurley midway through the second quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Nagy said the Bears will not consider bringing in kickers for a tryout at Halas Hall this week, though it’s clear the Bears have a problem at that position with Eddy Pineiro. Pineiro sandwiched misses from 48 and 47 yards around Nagy’s decision to try to convert a fourth-and-nine instead of having him kick a 49-yard field goal, indicating the Bears’ coach is right back to where he was a year ago in not being able to trust his kicker.

Cordarrellle Patterson was bottled up on kick returns and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while covering a punt.

COACHING: F

There were plenty of questions here that were overshadowed by Nagy’s decision to pull Trubisky from the end of Sunday’s game. Why did he decline a running into the kicker penalty on fourth and a long five that would’ve set up fourth and inches in the second quarter? The Bears were in their own territory, but Nagy was aggressive in that spot against the Detroit Lions last week and declined to be so again on Sunday (Donald probably had something to do with it, though).

Nagy’s decision to punt with 27 seconds left registered pretty high on the surrender index:

And while it’s understandable why Nagy’s trust in Pineiro appears low, the chance his rookie kicker were to make a 49-yard field goal were still higher than the chance his sputtering offense were to convert a fourth-and-long.

Nagy’s run-pass balance wasn’t the problem, nor were any glaringly-bad playcalls (the third-and-one option can be debated given Trubisky’s injury, but if he does his job on the play it’s likely successful). But ultimately, this game came down to the Bears finding another way to lose: They ran 22 more plays than the Rams, won the turnover battle, committed only two penalties and still managed to lose by 10 points. ‘

This is what a bad football team looks like. And ultimately, games like this do fall on the coach. 

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Peter King on Bears QBs: 'I'd play Chase Daniel right now'

Peter King on Bears QBs: 'I'd play Chase Daniel right now'

Despite the Bears' brutal start to the 2019 season, which has been lowlighted by an excruciatingly frustrating offense, there remains no quarterback controversy in Chicago. Coach Matt Nagy is doing his best to sell the offense's struggles as belonging to all 11 starters, not just Mitchell Trubisky, and has refused to entertain the thought of a switch under center. 

It's a tough sell, to say the least, and NBC Sports' Peter King isn't buying.

"I'd play Chase Daniel right now," King told Dan Patrick on Wednesday. "You just have to say we're giving Mitch some downtime.

"Mitchell Trubisky, there were times when they locked in on his face (against Philadelphia) where he looked like he was in an oral surgeon's chair without novocaine. This has got to be incredibly uncomfortable for him."

It's been uncomfortable for everyone, including Bears fans who are living with the reality that Trubisky was Ryan Pace's choice over DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. 

"Imagine you're Mitchell Trubisky," King said. "You're a nice guy, everybody loves you, you go to North Carolina and you play for one year and one year only, and you're pretty good. Who knows how great you are because they haven't seen all that much of you, but a team chooses you high in the first round and it just happens to be in Chicago where all the fans want is for you to be better than Jim McMahon and the next Michael Jordan.  They want a savior at quarterback and when you're drafted No. 2 overall, there are great expectations."

A savior would be fantastic, but at this point, all Bears fans are really hoping for is a consistent quarterback who can complement a potentially Super Bowl-caliber defense. Unfortunately, this isn't anything new in Chicago. Jay Cutler didn't exactly live up to expectations prior to Trubisky's arrival, nor did Rex Grossman (another first-round bust) who despite starting during the last Bears' Super Bowl run in 2006-07 was best known for his fumblitis. 

And while a playoff berth seems highly unlikely after a 3-5 start, King thinks there's still time to turn around what was once a promising season. But in order to do that, Daniel needs to get a shot.

"I don't think that Matt Nagy has to say the words other than we just think this week, right now, Chase Daniel gives us a better chance to win," King said. 

"One more loss, right about now, and I say it's over. But it's not over right now. If they win the next couple of weeks, as unlikey as it sounds, they're still in it. And so, I think you have to do what is the best thing for you to win this game and this game only."

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