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Finding A Quarterback: No Interest in Mitch Trubisky?

| March 22nd, 2017

(Author’s note: Last week I wrote I didn’t think the Bears would draft a quarterback third. Forget that, they can’t possibly think Mike Glennon is the answer.)

There has been almost nothing to link the Bears to North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, which is exactly why I think they really like him.

After sending a team of people, including Ryan Pace and John Fox, to Clemson for Deshaun Watson’s workout, the Bears didn’t send anyone of note to see Trubisky this week. There were also no reports of Pace going to watch Trubisky during the season. Really, nothing has connected Pace and the Bears to Trubisky other than a standard interview at the combine.

Hell, we even have Pace talking specifically about having a problem with what is perceived as Trubisky’s biggest flaw, experience:

“Yeah, it carries a lot of weight. I think there’s nothing that can really substitute that,” Pace said at the Senior Bowl. “It’s already a big jump from college to the NFL as it is, so the more of that you have, the more beneficial it is.”

I don’t buy it. 

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Chicago Bears Big Board

| March 15th, 2017

I just don’t think the Bears are going to take a quarterback with the third pick.

Through the first two waves of free agency, I saw Pace as someone who was just trying to plug as many holes as he could so that they could pick up some wins and he’d get a chance to keep building the team next offseason. George McCaskey made it clear that he isn’t patient and I think Pace heard that message. Mike Glennon is a reliable player who Pace hopes can be just good enough to get him to next offseason.

It’s possible that Pace sees upside in Glennon; sees him as somebody who could potentially be the answer. Realistically, I think Pace is just hoping Glennon can buy him more time.

My hunch is that Pace has ID’d his answer and it’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Drafting a quarterback in the first round this year would mean he couldn’t realistically go after Garoppolo next year. Sticking with Glennon and a QB drafted later leaves all options on the table.

Even if it’s not Garoppolo, I haven’t gotten any indication that he believes the answer is among the guys available early in this draft. Pace had made comments about valuing decision making (Watson), experience (Trubisky) and elevating their teams and programs (Kizer and Mahomes). Perhaps those were all part of a smoke screen. But I’m not betting on it. I do think the Bears will draft a quarterback at some point but my guess is Pace will view that player in the same light he sees Glennon – someone who could be the answer, but probably isn’t.

If it were up to me, Deshaun Watson would be the pick, but it isn’t up to me and here’s how I think the Bears have their big board stacked at this point:

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Even on his way out, Jay Cutler Is Unappreciated

| March 12th, 2017

Editor’s Note: This will likely be the last column about Jay Cutler to appear on this blog after the last 9 years of intense conversation and debate. I’d like to thank Jay for everything he gave this organization. He played the toughest game on earth, played it broken half the time, and then had to deal with a city and media that never gave him a fair shot. I wish him nothing but success moving forward. -JH.


Brad Biggs just couldn’t help himself, couldn’t hide his bias. In a story that was supposed to be about praising new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, the Tribune reporter decided to take two shots as Cutler as he prepares to leave town – questioning his leadership and production.

The Bears didn’t win enough games with Cutler. He didn’t put up monster statistics. But Cutler was a good quarterback for a team that has never had good quarterbacks and now we all have to go back and see how the other half lives.

Jay Cutler will exit Chicago without any appreciation for how he played for the Bears.

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Today Is the Most Important Day of the Current Regime

| March 6th, 2017

Today is the most day of the regime of Ryan Pace and John Fox because they are finalizing their plans at the quarterback position.

Forget the 40 times and other underwear Olympic events. The Bears needed to sit down and have face-to-faces with the likes of DeShone Kizer, DeShaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky. They learned what makes these guys tick; got a feeling of thee young quarterbacks’ general football knowledge.

Forget all the rumors you have heard. The Bears could not have determined how much they wanted to spend on a free agent quarterback — or how much to give up in a trade — until they knew what the draft was offering them. Today the Bears are as ready as they’ll ever be to determine the direction of the franchise.

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What to Watch for At 2017 Combine

| March 1st, 2017

The NFL’s annual meat market kicks off this week and here are a few things to watch for:

The Quarterbacks

In case you haven’t noticed around here, this off-season is about one thing: finding a quarterback. This week is going to be the Bears first real chance to sit down and talk football with the top four guys: Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Pat Mahomes.

The Bears know who Brian Hoyer is, have a good feeling about Jimmy Garoppolo and are at least relatively familiar with all of the other veteran options. Their pro personnel department has done their work. They don’t know the quarterbacks in the draft simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to study them beyond their game tape.

Does Watson have enough meat on his bones? What does Kizer attribute his inconsistency to? Is Trubisky really short?  Does Mahomes have any clue when it comes to reading coverage? These are some of the questions the Bears need to ask.

The most important part is going to be the interview process. The Bears need to find out what makes these guys tick. They won’t publicly broadcast that information, but we’ll hear the buzz. The Bears could fall in love with a quarterback here and that could change everything.

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Finding A Quarterback: The Draft

| February 23rd, 2017

Editor’s Note: Andrew wrote this so we’re posting it as rumors swirl around the Bears QB position.

The best way to solve a quarterback problem is through the draft, but nobody has perfected that art. Or even come close.

Ron Wolf is probably the best there has ever been at evaluating quarterbacks. He traded a first round pick for Brett Favre, drafted Mark Brunell in the fifth round, Aaron Brooks in the fourth and Matt Hasselback in the sixth. He also drafted Jay Barker, Kyle Wachholtz and Ron McAda. The Patriots hit the jackpot with Tom Brady, but they have a long, long list of quarterbacks who didn’t pan out. The Cowboys wanted Connor Cook and Paxton Lynch over Dak Prescott.

For what it’s worth, my favorite quarterbacks the past few years have been Carson Wentz, 2016; Marcus Mariota, 2015; Derek Carr, 2014; EJ Manuel, 2013; Andrew Luck, 2012 and Jake Locker, 2011. What can I say? I like guys who have big arms and can move around.

That said, I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time on the quarterbacks in the draft in the past as I have this year. Time will tell if that’s a good thing. I can say that I like all three of the top quarterbacks more than I liked anybody in the draft last year, but not as much as either Mariota or Jameis Winston.

Before I break down the top quarterback prospects, here are a few things I’m taking into consideration.

Anonymous Scouts are Liars Or Fake

Every week somebody writes a story quoting an anonymous scout. They’re full of crap. 99% of anonymous scouts are people trying to pass off their opinion as someone else’s.

The Offense Doesn’t Matter, To An Extent

The line between a pro-style offense and a spread is more blurred than ever. Pretty much every college team runs a spread or, at least, something that used to be considered a spread. The Bears and most other NFL teams run a lot of spread concepts. The league wisely adjusted to what the colleges were giving them.

All of the top quarterbacks in the draft this year play a sort of spread system and all of them will have to have their reads simplified in the NFL. If their coaches don’t simplify it for them, the coaches will be fired. The Cowboys made things easy for Prescott, the Seahawks kept the training wheels on Russell Wilson for nearly three years and Cam Newton still runs a college offense. How did Adam Gase get Jay Cutler to limit his turnovers? He simplified the offense.

That said, there’s never been anyone who has played in the “Air Raid” offense and been a successful NFL quarterback. The player has to show at least some ability to read defenses or make adjustments.

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Finding A Quarterback: Ranking the Veterans

| February 21st, 2017

While some have argued that this is a bad year to need a quarterback, I strongly disagree. Over the last few weeks, I have spent countless hours watching and breaking down all of the popular veteran options the Bears may turn to in hopes of fixing their quarterback position this off-season. Below you will find a ranking of those players, not just in terms of talent but with cost and long-term viability figured in.

9. Mike Glennon

Some are reporting that Glennon is going to get big money to start somewhere. I’m not sure I believe that. He’s not accurate, mobile or particularly smart with the ball. He was Josh McCown’s backup.

8. Matt Barkley

It’s long been forgotten but Barkley did a lot of good things with the Bears last year. He just can’t keep throwing interceptions at the rate that he has throughout his career. I can’t help but wonder what a full off-season with this offense and coaching staff could do for him. He shouldn’t be brought back as a starter, but there are a lot of teams with worse backups.

7. A.J. McCarron

Maybe the biggest problem with McCarron is the cost. The Bears would have to give up a draft pick and then sign him to a new contract. This is fine if he’s a good, starting-caliber quarterback. I just don’t think McCarron is.

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Finding a Quarterback: What is Tyrod Taylor’s Ceiling?

| February 16th, 2017

Did the Buffalo Bills hold Tyrod Taylor back or was it the other way around? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I watched him play.

There were times where Taylor was Russell Wilson.

There were other times where I wondered if the Bills called conservative games because Taylor was their quarterback.

This same debate is prevalent among Buffalo media, who are radically divided on Taylor’s tenure with the Bills.

Buffalo GM Doug Whaley doesn’t like Taylor. Taylor was Rex Ryan’s guy and even though new Buffalo offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is said to be a fan of Taylor’s, Whaley isn’t like to care. Most signs point to the Bills opting out of Taylor’s lucrative contract and the 27-year-old hitting the open market.

He’ll get paidt for his play the last two seasons, with passer ratings of 99.4 and 89.6, but nobody really knows what they’re getting. He could be a quality player on the ascent or he could be a player destined for mediocrity.

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Finding A Quarterback: AJ McCarron, A Backup’s Backup

| February 15th, 2017

The common thought of people covering the NFL is that the Cincinnati Bengals should try to find an upgrade over quarterback Andy Dalton. A common thought among many Bears fans is the team should bring in Dalton’s backup to be their new starter.

It is every bit as illogical as it sounds.

Every time someone suggests the Bears trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, someone chimes in that they should spend less and bring in AJ McCarron instead. McCarron is a fine player but his current job is where he belongs. There is no shame in backing up Tom Brady like Garoppolo has had to do, but if McCarron were capable of being a top tier starting quarterback, he wouldn’t be watching Dalton take all the snaps.

McCarron did some nice things when he got to play at the end of 2015. He made several good throws down the field and consistently showed good touch on deep passes. He’s an NFL quarterback but not all guys are meant to be starters.

The Alabama product’s stats are fine. He completed 66.4 percent of his passes for six touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 97.1. If you took his averages from the four starts — including the playoffs — and averaged them out over 16 games, it would come out to roughly 3,500 yards with 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Not bad, but he was playing in a stacked offense. Dalton managed a passer rating of 106.2.

When I watched McCarron, the performance didn’t match the statistics. I had him with an inaccuracy rate of 33.4 percent in his four starts. While he only threw two interceptions, he had a number of other passes that should have been picked off. It was Josh McCownesque.

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Finding a Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick and the cost of a social pariah

| February 8th, 2017

The best value in the quarterback market this offseason will be a guy who has been productive, led his team to a Super Bowl and possesses crazy physical skills. He will also likely have a difficult time finding a job.

Colin Kaepernick went against the grain and took a stand, or, rather, a knee and NFL teams don’t like guys who are different. In their mind, different is difficult and unless it’s a superstar it isn’t worth the trouble. NFL coaches and owners don’t want to admit this, but it has proven to be true time after time.

Kaeperick transcended football in the amount of much attention he received for what he did on the sidelines. But when he was on the field, he was actually pretty good. Why would any team serious about upgrading their quarterback position not kick the tires on the guy?

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