Here is a story about two coaches, in identical circumstances.
Coach A has gone 4-20 and his pathetic offense averaged 19 points per game.
Coach B, however, has had a lot more success. His team has gone 17-5 and his offense has averaged nearly 31 points per game.
Coach B is clearly better than Coach A. Or, at least, he would be, if they weren’t the same person.
That is the story of Kyle Shanahan’s career with the 49ers when he’s had Jimmy Garoppolo and when he has not. Nobody is going to argue that Jimmy G. is a franchise quarterback or one of the best in the league. He’s solid. He’s consistent. He does his job.
The argument can be that every other quarterback Shanahan has had in San Francisco has been bad. It can also be argued that Shanahan’s offense is relatively simple and helps the quarterback out with the running game.
Those arguments are valid, but doesn’t change the simple fact that without adequate quarterback play, Shanahan doesn’t look like a genius and with it, he might be best play caller in the league. You can go throughout the young coach’s career and you’ll find that to be the case. In fact, you can go through most coach’s careers and find that to be the case.
New flash: The quarterback really matters.
Everyone has an opinion on Mitch Trubisky, but it’s impossible to argue that he has played adequately this year. He can play well and, when he does, the Bears move the ball and score points. But the issue, ultimately, is that nobody has any idea if Trubisky will play well in any given week or even any given play and that is what puts the Bears in a conundrum.
Trubisky has as many games with a passer rating higher than 100 as Aaron Rodgers does and actually one more with a passer rating greater than 115. But Rodgers doesn’t have the clunkers. He doesn’t have the Giants game. The Rams game. The Eagles game. Or Either games against the Packers. One could argue that while Rodgers has had two of his worst games against the Bears, the simple fact that he hit open receivers and protected the ball was ultimately the difference in the Packers winning.
The Bears are ready to break out offensively.
Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson are studs who appear ready to rival the league’s top wide receiver duos. Javon Wims gives them a combination of size and speed that can really give defenses fits when they try to play man coverage.
David Montgomery certainly looks the part and should get better as he learns to surge through holes more.
They need more from the tight end position, but there’s little reason to think Trey Burton won’t be able to finally get healthy. He was one of the 10 most productive tight ends in the league in 2018. Jesper Horsted has certainly shown at least some promise.
They need better play along the offensive line, particularly at right guard. They chose to try to develop Rashad Coward as they went along this season and he hasn’t really improved. Maybe an off-season acquisition at the position will make a difference, or maybe Alex Bars will step up. If nothing else, adequate guards really aren’t that hard to find. The Bears just have to look now that Kyle Long appears to be done.
They can improve those positions and return in 2020 with a stacked offense around the quarterback. But, ultimately, they need the quarterback to hold up his end of the bargain.
Last Sunday’s game sums up Trubisky’s 2019 season perfectly. We saw flashes of brilliance. We saw him move around and throw darts to receivers. We saw him go through progressions and find open receivers before hitting them with passes down the field. We also saw him fail to go through progressions on a fourth down and force a poorly-thrown pass to a well-covered Robinson instead of tossing to an open Riley Ridley. We saw him needlessly hop out of bounds on a third-and-four in four down territory. We saw him miss a wide open Miller deep down the field on a third down.
The most important thing we saw is that we don’t know what we’re going to see when he takes the snap.
The third-year QB from UNC has two more games to show us he can play well consistently and then Ryan Pace will have another off-season to show us he knows what the hell he’s doing at that position. If the Bears can just get consistently adequate quarterback play, they’re going to score a lot of points in 2020.