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ATM: Signs Point to Bears Betting on Trubisky

| January 21st, 2020

John DeFilippo wouldn’t have signed on to be the Chicago Bears quarterbacks coach if he didn’t know who his pupil would be and he didn’t think he could get that player to play at a high level.

Flip wouldn’t have had trouble finding a different job than the one he ended up taking and, according to Adam Jahns on the Hoge & Jahns Podcast, he did have other options.

But he didn’t take them. He signed on to coach Mitch Trubisky and any other quarterback they might add.

There were two schools of thought when Flip was announced as the team’s new quarterbacks coach.

1. The Bears were beefing up their coaching staff as much as possible for Mitch Trubisky

2. The Bears were going to use the knowledge of Flip and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to judge possible additions to the position.

While fans debated which thought process was right, both are probably true to an extent. But it certainly seems as if the Bears want to make Trubisky work before they go to the next option.

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ATM: Titans Give Reason For Hope, If Pace Is Willing to Admit Mistake

| January 14th, 2020

Purgatory.

The team had just finished a season in which they finished third in their division, with the 27th-best scoring offense and third best defense. Against all odds, they had made the playoffs the year before, but they were stuck.

The young coach seemed like a great leader. The defensive coordinator had his unit set. The offensive play caller was dialing up winners. But they weren’t winning because the No. 2 overall pick quarterback simply could not execute the offense.

There were no easy answers.

Now that team is one win away from going to the Super Bowl.

Most of that probably sounds very familiar because the 2019 Tennessee Titans entered the season in the same spot as the 2020 Chicago Bears. But the Titans weren’t afraid to do exactly what the Bears have to do. They sat Marcus Mariota on the bench.

Through six games, the Titans were averaging 16.3 points and 307 yards per game, but they finished the season 10th in the league scoring 25.1 points 12th averaging 363 yards per game.

And the only major change they made was the quarterback.

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ATM: Adding Castillo, Shurmur Would Allow Nagy to Get Back to the Basics of the Offense

| January 9th, 2020


Perhaps the Chicago Bears offense failing to achieve the Version 2.0 Matt Nagy promised before the season was because he had too many people to teach.

Early in Nagy’s tenure, before the first training camp practice, he regularly brought up the fact that it wasn’t just the players who had to learn the offense, but the coaches. Now with Juan Castillo as his offensive line coach and (reportedly, by DBB) Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator, Nagy has filled his staff with some of this offense’s finest teachers.

Mark Helfrich and Harry Hiestand are probably very good coaches, but neither was well-versed in what’s commonly known as “The Andy Reid Philosophy”. More to the point, both were hired specifically to bring outside elements to the offense -Helfrich the RPO game and Hiestand the power running. Neither worked out.

For Nagy, the best thing to do was to get back to the offense, to the basics. Whether the team intends on running version 1.0, 2.0 or jumping to 3.0 next season, they now have an offensive coordinator and line coach who have proven track records in accomplishing whatever version is required.

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ATM: Make Teddy A Bear 

| December 31st, 2019

Debate all day if you’d like, but the problem the Chicago Bears have had offensively the last two seasons boils down to one position: quarterback.

It’s time to fix that and, at the very least, find a way to get consistency out of that position by signing Teddy Bridgewater.

The bottom line with Mitch Trubisky is that he either doesn’t have (a) the football intelligence or (b) the instincts to play the position. Whether it’s a dump off on fourth-and-long, taking bad sacks or — his favorite — refusing to throw the ball away, Trubisky didn’t get the job done in 2019 and there’s little reason to think he will in 2020.

Where Trubisky struggles, Bridgewater excels. He’s smart and decisive with the ball, delivering accurate passes on all levels — completing 47.8 percent of his passes beyond 15 yards, while Trubisky sat at 38.4. (While Bridgewater had a passer rating of 90.8 on deep passes, it would’ve been higher had Ted Ginn not dropped what ended up being an interception.) Meanwhile, six of Trubisky’s interceptions came on deep passes.

Bridgewater went through his early struggles in Minnesota, but even then he was better than Trubisky was last year. And there’s reason to think he is even better now after spending two years with Drew Brees and Sean Payton.

The idea that Bridgewater was just a cog in the Saints offense isn’t reality. The team had plenty of struggles around him, including dropping 8.6% of his pass attempts, a mark that would’ve led the league by a wide margin if he had enough attempts to qualify. He was also hurried, hit or sacked on 19.5% of his drop backs – not much different than the pressure Trubisky faced.

Yet, the Saints kept moving the ball and the more Bridgewater played, the better he was.

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ATM: Bears Offense Close to Breaking Out (If the Quarterback Stops Breaking Down)

| December 17th, 2019


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.

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ATM: Improved Line Play Key to Bears Finish

| December 10th, 2019

The Chicago Bears will go only as far as Mitch Trubisky takes them, but they need the offensive line to hold up so they can see exactly what the quarterback can do.

The line play has ranged from awful to mediocre until the last two games when we’ve seen holes opening up. It certainly appears that the unit is beginning to come together, which will be important for both the immediate and longterm future of the club.

Trubisky earned all the headlines after his dynamic performance against Dallas, but lost in the shuffle was the dominant performance by the offensive line. They didn’t just get the better of one of the best defensive lines in the league. They bullied them in what was unquestionably the best performance the Bears blockers have had all year — and maybe in several seasons.

That was the second straight game in which the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage. Trubisky was hurried just six times and hit once on Thanksgiving, according to Pro-Football-Reference, as the Bears also gave their runners 40 yards before contact on 23 attempts. Compare that to a week earlier when Bears rushers had just 25 yards before contact on 26 attempts. (The advanced data for the Cowboys game won’t be available until Wednesday.)

The difference was seen in Trubisky too. While he wasn’t pressured that much against the Giants, it was enough to throw him off as he had 10 of what PFR deems to be bad throws, compared to just four against Detroit and four against Dallas.

The Green Bay Packers know how much pressure impacts Trubisky and they blitzed him 17 times in Week One. They got home a fair amount, sacking him five times, hitting him five more, and hurrying him seven times.

Trubisky was bad that game, but he didn’t have much of a chance to be good.

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ATM: Strong Finish Would Earn Trubisky Another Chance

| December 3rd, 2019


Thanksgiving

And just like that, another quarterback has thrown his hat in the ring to be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears in 2020: Mitch Trubisky.

It wasn’t perfect, but for the first time this year Trubisky looked like an actual NFL quarterback. It wasn’t just that he threw more great passes on Thanksgiving than he has all season. It’s that he looked composed. He went through his progressions and he made plays even after the defense took the initial look away. The head coach, who is clearly frustrated with the quarterback’s inability to run the offense, came away impressed.

“Today was Mitch’s day. It was his day.”

After noting that his last two touchdown passes were to players who weren’t the initial reads, Matt Nagy said, “That’s growth for Mitchell. Getting through progression one, progression two and making plays happen. I think that’s probably what I’m most proud about.”

For one day, Nagy had an NFL quarterback and the offense made plays when they needed to. And it wasn’t just about statistics, even though the statistics were terrific.

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ATM: Respectability Matters for the 2019 Bears

| November 26th, 2019

The playoffs are almost certainly out of the picture, but the Chicago Bears still have a chance to at least make the 2019 season a respectable one.

And while disappointing, respectability matters.

One could argue the only real difference between the 2007 and 2014 Bears is the fact that one was able to remain respectable, no matter how frustrating the losses and how apparently bleak the quarterback situation looked. A year after a Super Bowl berth, the Bears managed to win their final two games – including a 35-7 win over NFC North Champion Green Bay – to finish 7-9. (The 2014 Bears embarrassed themselves on and off the field.)

The difference between those two seasons was just two games, but those two games can define perception and perception can determine if a coach keeps his job. If a GM gets another draft. If a quarterback gets to compete for his job. Those two games matter can be the difference between bad and respectable. The Bears have a chance to make the 2019 season at least respectable.

What shouldn’t be lost in this, of course, is the fact that the Bears don’t have a first round pick, so there really is no benefit to losing games. If they can finish .500 or better, however, they can argue they were at least close. They were a couple of missed field goals, a few bad interceptions or a blown assignment away from actually making the playoffs. And, if they can craft an argument that they were competitive and bordering on being a contender, they can possibly convince players to leave money on the table for a chance to compete for a Super Bowl. We saw that last year with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

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ATM: QB Market Begins to Take Shape

| November 19th, 2019


As the Chicago Bears once again prepare to dive into the market for a quarterback, the list of players who are going to be available is becoming clear. Which direction the Bears go depends on what, exactly, they are looking to find.

If the Bears are looking for a clear-cut new starter, there should be several options.

If they’re merely looking for competition, there are some good options there too.

If they’re looking for a new franchise-type quarterback, that’s unlikely. But last week may have opened an option there too.

Here is a quick look:


Trade Targets

When Ian Rapoport goes on TV and specifically mentions the Bears as a team Cam Newton would be interested in, there’s a reason for it.

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ATM: Ugly Win Leaves Chance for Hope…Maybe.

| November 12th, 2019

The National Football League has a way of toying with our emotions. Just when we thought the Chicago Bears were dead, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel – enough that the 2019 season could still end up being relevant.

Nothing that happened was pretty. And nothing suggests that the Bears are going to suddenly be even a mediocre team, much less the kind of team that can contend for the Super Bowl. But that’s the funny thing about this league. As long as teams can stay alive, they leave a chance that the switch is going to flip and they could become the team they were supposed to be.

Mitch Trubisky wasn’t great on Sunday. (He was barely even adequate.) But over the last three weeks he has made enough good throws that everyone can see the potential. That potential very likely will never be reached. Even at his best, he leaves a touchdown on the field and makes drive-killing mistakes.

But maybe beating a crappy Lions team is turning point?

Maybe the team just needed a boost like the one Nick Kwiatkoski gave them.

Maybe Kwiatkoski is a sleeping superstar hidden behind two studs? In the two games he has seen extensive action he has 20 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He’s far from flawless, but if he keeps making impact plays, that doesn’t matter.

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