Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky entered Week 15's game against the Green Bay Packers on a bit of a hot streak. He posted back-to-back games with a passer rating above 115.0 and was the primary reason why Chicago won three games in a row.
But his uneven performance in a losing effort against the Packers brought an unavoidable question back to the forefront: Is Trubisky really the guy who can lead this team on a legitimate Super Bowl run?
Sunday night's game against the Chiefs will magnify Trubisky's shortcomings. He'll be compared to Patrick Mahomes from the minute the game starts until the final whistle blows. He should be used to it by now. Trubisky's early-career failures have been compared and contrasted with Mahomes and Houston's Deshaun Watson since their rookie seasons in 2017.
At some point, the Bears have to put pressure on Trubisky to put up or shut up. And it can't just be for two or three-game spurts. He has to be consistently good, with the occasional great, in order to justify unwavering support from coach Matty Nagy and the rest of the organization.
If Trubisky flops over the next two games, one player to keep an eye on as a potential target for general manager Ryan Pace is Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. The former No. 1 overall pick is on an expiring contract and there's been no indication whether Tampa Bay will use the franchise tag on him.
Winston is having a ridiculous season statistically. He's thrown for 4,573 yards and 30 touchdowns, both of which would be single-season franchise records for the Bears, and he still has two games to go. It's the third time in Winston's five seasons as a pro that he's eclipsed 4,000 passing yards. No Bears quarterback has ever crossed the 4,000-yard threshold in franchise history.
Winston's high production also comes with a high rate of turnovers. He's thrown a career-high 24 interceptions so far this year and has thrown at least 14 interceptions in four of his five seasons.
But that's to be expected from a player like Winston, who's an aggressive downfield passer. He has the kind of elite arm talent that would make Nagy's offense hum. He's also just 25 years old, the same age as Trubisky, yet he's proven much more capable of putting a team on his back and scoring points in bunches.
This isn't to say Winston is a trustworthy alternative to Trubisky. He isn't. He's closer to Jay Cutler than he is Mahomes, but it appears safe to say most Bears fans would line up for another few seasons of Cutler right now.
As a result, Winston is moving up the Bears QB Big Board. If he isn't franchised, Pace may just have to go all-in.
Bears QB Big Board (Dec. 19, 2019)
1. Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: 1 (Dec. 12)
2. Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: Outside looking In (Dec. 12)
3. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: 3 (Dec. 12)
4. Andy Dalton (Bengals)
previous: 2 (Dec. 12)
5. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: 4 (Dec. 12)
6. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 5 (Dec. 12)
Outside looking in (list cut down to three)...
-Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)
-Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (Dec. 12)
- Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 12)