— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 21, 2017
There’s beginning to be quite a buzz around Mitch Trubisky.
It’s been almost a month since the draft. The Bears were bashed nationally, with some clowns even calling for Ryan Pace’s job. But more evidence is pouring in and they’ve even played a little football. So far, the early returns are that Trubisky is better than he was sold to be before the Bears made the pick.
It’s often been said that teams never really know what they have in quarterbacks until they get them in their doors. The early returns are promising.
The Bears are in a bit of a pickle.
Ryan Pace, their youngest and boldest GM, has stacked his chips on number ten and is waiting for the wheel to spin. The development of Mitch Trubisky will define Pace’s tenure with this organization and determine greatly whether this is a fun team to watch over the next five seasons.
But Pace now must answer a pivotal question and he must answer it in this calendar year.
Are John Fox and his coaching staff
the right guys to get the most out of Trubisky?
The Bears can arguably afford a season under Fox, with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone focused on Trubisky’s fundamentals: snaps, mechanics, getting the play into the huddle…etc. But as Trubisky makes the transition from the classroom to the field, stability will be of the utmost importance. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are the gold standards at quarterback in the NFL. It’s no coincidence that both have taken every single snap of their NFL careers under one head coach. (By the same token look at what instability has done to the productivity of Flacco, Eli, Rivers…etc.)
The Bears traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to get their future. If Ryan Pace & Co. are right about Mitch Trubisky, the Bears are looking at a decade plus of sustained, consistent success. If they are wrong, Bears fans are about three years away from another change in leadership.
Yesterday I had a friend on the golf course repeat the completely debunked “fleeced” narrative to me. You know, the one about how Genius John Lynch took all of Gullible Ryan Pace’s money over a street corner game of three-card monte. Fleeced, they say. FLEECED?!?! The Bears gave up some mid-round picks in order to attain theirs (and basically the entire league’s) most highly-rated quarterback in the draft. They didn’t trade Jordan Howard, Kyle Long and two future firsts. They didn’t even go so far as to give up a pristine, beautiful, perfect second-round selection. They gave up some thirds. A fourth. And got their guy.
[For those who haven’t read Peter King’s piece from inside the Niners draft war room, please read it. His reporting was terrific.]
What has been completely lost in the Trubisky conversation/debate is this: the kid is a great prospect. Not good. Not interesting. Great. In my mind, he was light years above the others in this quarterbacking crop and significantly better than either of the top quarterbacks from a year ago.
[For those who think this is me defending the Bears, Trubisky was my second favorite player in this draft. I have a blog where I write things. This is on the record HERE.]
Trubisky has size, speed, elusiveness, arm strength, intelligence, guts and – perhaps most importantly – he’s all football, all the time. The Tarheel signal caller may not pan out as one of the league’s best quarterbacks but it won’t be because he hasn’t put in every single second required to do so.
Oh, and that guy described above? He’s on the Bears now! He’s on the Bears because they have a general manager who knew Mike Glennon is nothing more than a guy who could have carried the water for a year should the team had been unable to attain a quarterback in this year’s draft. They have a general manager who recognizes ‘good enough’ at quarterback in the NFL is never good enough.
When Jerry Angelo made the boldest move in modern Chicago Bears history – giving up a pile of picks to acquire Jay Cutler – it changed the franchise for the next decade. Did it work out? No. For a myriad of overly-analyzed and debated reasons the Bears didn’t win enough games with Cutler at quarterback. Was it the right move to make? Unquestionably.
The second boldest move in modern Chicago Bears history happened Thursday night, April 27th, about fifteen minutes after the 2017 NFL Draft commenced. In the long-term it could provide the Bears their Aaron Rodgers and cement Pace’s legacy in Chicago. In the short-term it has lined the mirror and handed a rolled up $20 bill to Bears fans and media. A quiet coffee shop of an off-season program and Bourbonnais summer has become 2 AM at Limelight in the 80s.
For years we heard defensive coordinator Greg Blache tell us sacks were not important when it comes to pass rush. When while wide receivers were dominating the game, we watched Angelo ignore the position year after year after year. Now the Bears are led by a man aware of his surroundings and unafraid to dramatically alter them in an attempt to improve. It’s called guts, folks, and the Bears GM has ’em.
He’s taken the risk. Now we all hope to reap the reward. And in the meantime, there’s a buzz about the Bears again.
If you haven’t read Andrew Dannehy’s piece on why the Bears defense will improve in 2017, you should. It is a detailed explanation of why this unit will continue its ascent up the rankings and join the top shelf of the league’s defenses.
These two signings are about one thing: rush defense. For all the improvement the Bears defense made in 2016, they did not improve at all as a rush defense. A lot of this can be placed at the feet of injuries. Trevathan and Goldman were horribly missed for much of the season and the rush defense went flat into the toilet once Freeman was suspended.
Howard and Skuta are early-down, plug-and-play guys. And they are here to help the Bears get their rush defense to under 100 yards per game.
Rick Morrissey in the Sun-Times wrote an interesting piece about how the Chicago sports landscape is so vastly different than it was five months ago. Here is what he had to say about the Bears:
While they didn’t attack that side of the ball the way many people thought they should in the draft, the Bears defense should still be significantly improved in 2017.
Just last week the Bears made a significant addition to their front seven adding Jaye Howard from Kansas City. Howard is a bull against the run and has shown some ability to rush the passer, finishing with 5.5 sacks in 2015. He missed half of the 2016 season, but passed a physical and appears to be ready to go. Howard will start for the Bears and has the ability to play in their nickel packages, rotating with Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks, representing a significant upgrade over Mitch Unrein.
Howard will also push second-year player Jonathan Bullard. Bullard has the potential to be a stud but was terrible as a rookie. If the Bears — with one of the best defensive line coaches in the league in Jay Rodgers — can develop Bullard, they might have the best front seven in the league.
The Chicago Bears secured the man they believe is their quarterback of the future when they grabbed Mitch Trubisky with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. There has been plenty of discussion about the wisdom of that move, so I am not here to add to that.
Here is what I am curious about: as a Bears fan, what can I look forward to in the next few years if Trubisky does or does not pan out?
Quarterback is the most important position in football, so it makes sense that hitting or missing on one will have a significant impact on the immediate future of the franchise. This is especially true when you have committed such a high pick – a premium resource -to a quarterback and thus are determined to give him a few years to succeed.
Thus I went back and looked at all of the quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 of the draft over the last 20 years to see how the franchise drafting them fared for the 5 years after the draft. Since I’m looking at 5 years, the most recent draft I could use was 2012, so the sample here looked at all 26 quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 between 1993 and 2012.
Sure, there’s plenty of football to be discussed and dissected over the next eight months. But the future of the Chicago Bears rests on the development and performance of one Mitch “Friends Call Me Mitchell” Trubisky. That’s it. That’s the story moving forward.
Here are the probable scenarios at quarterback for the coming season.