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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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Finding a Quarterback: Mike Glennon and the Art of Quarterbacking

| February 7th, 2017

Early in Jay Cutler’s career with the Bears, he led the Bears to a win on Monday Night Football. This wasn’t enough to satisfy ESPN’s Steve Young who went on a crazy rant about the so-called “art of quarterbacking” simply because he didn’t like the way Cutler played.

It was the kind of pretentious bullshit that makes Young and Trent Dilfer hard to listen to. They want everyone to play the quarterback position a certain way –  the way that makes guys like Marc Trestman ejaculate – and everyone who doesn’t is just wrong. Cutler didn’t play that way. They still can’t stand it.

Personally, I only care about getting the job done. It was rarely pretty and the stats weren’t glorious, but Cutler was effective on that night as he has been in most games. You don’t get points for beauty in the NFL but there’s still a certain something a quarterback has to have.

Jay Cutler has it. Mike Glennon does not.

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Finding A Quarterback: Jimmy G. and a Leap of Faith

| January 24th, 2017

The Bears have a chance to acquire their best looking quarterback since Jim Miller.

One of the first moves Ron Wolf made as GM of the Packers was trading a first-round pick for a fat, drunk, third-string hillbilly who was a second round pick the year before. It ended up being a steal.

If Wolf were to make that trade today, the Twitter GMs would’ve been killing him for spending such a premium pick on a player who had never shown he could play. But Wolf was convinced he was trading for a franchise quarterback, even though nobody else seemed to have a high opinion of him. Wolf had Brett Favre rated as the best player on his draft board the year before and he knew he wanted him. The rest is history.

Fast forward 25 years and Ryan Pace is the latest Bears GM to try to fill the team’s quarterback. One of the prime candidates is a backup quarterback who we’ve barely seen in Jimmy Garoppolo. Twitter GMs are saying Pace can’t give up the third pick for Garoppolo, but, like Wolf, it all depends on what he sees in the young quarterback.

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Finding a Quarterback: The Upside of Tony Romo

| January 19th, 2017

Five passes.

That’s all we have to judge Tony Romo on from the 2016 season. Five passes. But they just might be enough.

Ryan Pace and John Fox are feeling the pressure to win now and they may have a chance to sign a quarterback who was considered among the best in the league for a decade. Even with Romo’s injury history, it’s something Pace and Fox are going to consider.

The thing about those five passes is they were all really good. They were sharp and on the money. One was a 15-yard spiral on third-and-11. Another was a deep pass that would’ve been a touchdown if not for an interference penalty. Romo finished his only drive of the season with a beautifully accurate touchdown pass, displaying a touch that very few quarterbacks have. Romo looked very much like the guy who probably should have won the 2014 MVP award.

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Charting The Bears: 2016 In Review

| January 17th, 2017

Before the season began I decided to try to do something a little different by charting some of the things you don’t regularly see in box scores and the end result was some really interesting numbers that may change the way you feel about certain players.

The most time-consuming part of my weekly job on DBB was charting the little things that you don’t see. As most hardcore football fans know, completion percentage doesn’t always tell you if a quarterback is accurate, Pro Bowl voting doesn’t always tell you if an offensive lineman can block, sacks don’t always tell you if a player is getting pressure on the quarterback and interceptions don’t tell you if a guy can cover. There’s more to the game, a lot more and I tried to discover some of that here:

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Finding A Quarterback: The Roster

| January 10th, 2017

When Ryan Pace was asked what he was looking for in a quarterback he might as well have said “not Jay Cutler.”

We’ve come a long way since last season’s season-ending press conference when Pace talked about building around Cutler. The best quarterback in the history of the franchise missed 11 games and was their least productive quarterback last season. Pace made it pretty clear that his days with the team are numbered.

When asked what attributes he looks for in a quarterback, the young Bears GM specified availability and ball security, Cutler’s two biggest weaknesses. Cutler was intercepted on 3.6 percent of his passes last year and his career average of 3.3 percent is worse than everyone on earth but Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cutler has also missed 23 games due to injury over the last six years. The fact that he missed so much time this season, with separate injuries, at 33 years old, doesn’t work in his favor.

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Across The Middle — It’s Finally Over

| January 5th, 2017

After the worst season in terms of total losses in franchise history, the Bears should have one mission this offseason: find a quarterback.

Two weeks ago, I cited John Fox’s record without Peyton Manning as a reason to fire him. Here’s the counter argument: Fox won almost 80 percent of games when he did have a franchise quarterback. I don’t know how much credit Fox deserves for his time with Manning (a former Broncos player once told me Manning ran the whole show), but I do know that a great quarterback changes everything.

Guys like Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey have job security solely because their teams have good, young quarterbacks. The Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3 largely because they upgraded from the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel to Dak Prescott. Mike McCarthy was getting fired two months ago but he’s now preparing for a playoff game because Aaron Rodgers put his team on his back.

It takes more than a great quarterback. The Colts continue to prove that. But the Bears have a good system in place and the kind of supporting cast that would be favorable for any quarterback to step into.

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Across The Middle — Week 17

| December 28th, 2016

After two seasons and a combined eight wins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked out for the best interest of their franchise and the development of quarterback Jameis Winston by firing Lovie Smith and replacing him with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. A year later, the Bears are in a similar position as the most important thing going forward is the ability to find and develop their next quarterback.

I made the case against John Fox last week. Even without looking at his win-loss record without Peyton Manning the last eight years, it’s hard to trust him to develop whoever the next QB is going to be. Dowell Loggains is a good offensive coordinator, who could easily succeed with a rookie quarterback. But, if he does the Bears will lose him to another franchise. While Fox has hired a number of good offensive coaches, he’s never been a part of a team that developed a quarterback.

But, who else are you going to get? As simple as my criteria may be, it isn’t so easy to fill.

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