Bears QB Big Board, 7.0: Is it time to consider Jameis Winston?

Bears QB Big Board, 7.0: Is it time to consider Jameis Winston?

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)

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter after loss to Bears: "We should fire every person that was on that field today"

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter after loss to Bears: "We should fire every person that was on that field today"

Careful, Dirk Koetter. 

Koetter, who watched his Tampa Bay Buccaneers get blown out by the Bears, had some interesting quotes in his post game press conference: 

He surely doesn't mean this (or maybe he does?!), but it's a pretty wild bite. Fitzmagic and the Bucs' hot start seems like ages ago. As a team, the Bucs only threw for 251 yards and rushed for 60, while allowing the Bears to stack up 344 passing yards and 139 rushing yards. So maybe he's right! 

Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy deliver Bears' most impressive win in a long, long time

Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy deliver Bears' most impressive win in a long, long time

Wow. 

As we slogged through the first few weeks of the 2018 season, a common refrain emanated from Halas Hall: Just wait. The offensive breakout is coming. 

On Sunday, it happened. Mitch Trubisky threw 6 touchdowns as the Bears bulldozed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-10, in one of the biggest victories by this franchise in recent memory. The Bears go into their early off week 3-1 with, all of a sudden, a quarterback who looks more than competent. Trubisky looks downright dangerous. 

Yes, it was just one game against a depleted Buccaneers’ secondary. But that’s not important right now, in the immediate aftermath of such a mighty walloping. What’s important is what Trubisky did. He hit open receivers for explosive plays. He cooly operated the offense and showed excellent poise in the pocket. He didn’t let a missed throw snowball into two or three missed throws. His decision-making was outstanding. 

Essentially, all the things that were causes for concern regarding the second-year quarterback were addressed on Sunday in an emphatically positive way.

It wasn’t just Trubisky, though. Matt Nagy’s playcalling, combined with outstanding games from Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, consistently led to the Bears’ pass-catchers finding themselves open in oceans of space. The offensive line kept a clean pocket for Trubisky all afternoon, allowing him to not be bothered and get “happy feet” or anything close to a lack of comfort.

And the Bears’ defense, yet again, turned in a dominant afternoon. Khalil Mack had another strip-sack — his fourth consecutive game with one of those — while Eddie Jackson and Danny Trevathan each tallied an interception, bringing the Bears’ total to seven this year (they had eight in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017). The only blemish was Akiem Hicks getting ejected for making contact with an official in the second quarter. 

But on a larger level, this game — and the week leading up to it — was a masterstroke by Nagy. The Bears’ offense hadn’t shown any signs of being able to take advantage of a depleted, bad defense, then did just that on Sunday. Perhaps things were simplified for Trubisky, and that’s why the Bears’ quarterback began hitting open receivers after struggling with that in Weeks 1-3. But whatever happened behind the scenes at Halas Hall this week, it worked to absolute perfection on Sunday. 

The Bears now head into their off week (as a shout-out to colleague John “Moon” Mullin, it’s not a bye week, it’s an off week) riding a wave of positivity that hasn’t been seen around these parts in an awfully long time. It’s too early to say the Bears are legitimate playoff contenders, but if this is the version of Trubisky we see over the final 12 games, this is a team that very well could end up playing in January.