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On a Sunday in Atlanta, Trubisky and Foles Define Who They Are as Football Players

| September 28th, 2020

(Jose M. Osorio/ Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)


The Bomb Finally Went Off.

As the first quarter came to a close, the Bears took possession, trailing 6-3.

On first down, Mitch Trubisky threw a bomb down the right sideline to a single-covered Ted Ginn.

The throw went out of bounds.

On third down, Trubisky threw a bomb down the left sideline to a single-covered Tarik Cohen.

The throw went way out of bounds.

Later, at the end of the second quarter, he threw a deep ball to Darnell Mooney. You can guess where it went. Moments later he finally landed one in bounds, airmailing a wide open Anthony Miller.

Briefly stated, Mitch Trubisky was in Atlanta who we thought he was. But Matt Nagy didn’t let him off the hook.

Trubisky’s tenure as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears has not definitively come to an end. He’s the backup now for a 3-0 football team and in this league, he should know he’s one blindside sack from being back on the field. And it is a fitting role for #10 because his playing ability suggests the backup role is where he belongs.

Backups can hit the easy, open, short and intermediate stuff. Backups can find fluky runs of form. Backups tend to make their biggest plays when the play has already broken down.

But backups are not expected to complete bombs down the field in rhythm. They’re not expected to produce touchdowns consistently in the red zone. They’re expected to make a few plays weekly that leave fans saying, “Yep, that’s why he isn’t a starter.”

This is the lonely, roadside motel room in which Trubisky now resides.

Peaceful Transition of Power.

There was a moment in Sunday’s game where Nick Foles did a very Nick Foles thing.

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Bears Beat Giants, Move to 2-0: Rapid Fire Reactions

| September 21st, 2020

The Bears have now opened the season as they needed, beating the Lions and the Giants. Were either wins pretty? No. But nobody remembers how championship teams look in September. Here come the rapid fire thoughts…


  • Mitch looked a different player in the first half but there are still the same mistakes being made over and over and over again and the second half played those out. Too many times Mitch passes on the easy completion. Too many times Mitch holds the ball too long. Too many times Mitch doesn’t run when the yards are there to be gained. This game was only competitive because Mitch made enough mistakes to keep it that way. That’s unsustainable.
  • Mitch looks exceedingly comfortable throwing between the hash marks and thus he will always err on the side of throwing it there. That’s why he forces passes to Robinson in coverage. He’s got to get more comfortable on the outside.
  • Anthony Miller should just forget this game happened.
  • Allen Robinson too. Neither of the interceptions targeted his way were great throws but neither should have been intercepted either.
  • Bears looked committed to proving Tarik Cohen’s value early. Then, it disappeared.
  • Cairo Santos is fine but the Bears don’t have a kicker who can make a fifty-yarder. And Ryan Pace should be ashamed by that.
  • Danny Trevathan is now the most serious concern on the roster. He doesn’t look slow. He looks done. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his retirement is sooner than expected. (Not this season or anything but not much after this season concludes.)

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Today Begins What Will Be a Wild, Unpredictable 2020 Campaign

| August 17th, 2020


I was texting recently with a popular Bears beat writer recently. I won’t mention his name but it rhymes with the name of my favorite burlesque dancer, Madame Bombs. (The lyricist in me must stress that “Adam Jahns” does not technically rhyme with “Madame Bombs” but once I found that joke I was running with it.) This beat writer and I were both sharing a similar experience. Interest in the Chicago Bears, as we made our way through the early days of August, was almost non-existent. The sites aren’t getting the clicks. The tweets are getting the traction. The podcasts – and his is the best in the business – aren’t getting the ears.

Was it the absence of preseason football? Perhaps. For as silly as those games are, they serve as a sort of lighthouse for a desperate fan base out to sea. We’re not on land yet but we know land approaches. Was it the lack of a fan-attended training camp? Perhaps. Normally, by now, we’ve seen a hundred fan videos of players in shorts and I’d have received a dozen emails with subject lines like “Watch out for Ryan Nall”. In the absence of the season’s build-up, we’re left with two of the world’s great bores: mindless social media debate and baseball.



Today could change that, as the beat writer pointed out to me. Today is the first day the media will attend Chicago Bears practice, the first time Madame Bombs and his cohorts will get to weigh-in on the quarterback “competition”. Today they might be able to tell us if Jaylon Johnson is running with the ones, or who has the leg up at right guard. Today and tomorrow there will be a flurry of Bears coverage with actual observations, information and insight, as opposed to blind predictions, what ifs and rankings of inactive game day quarterbacks from across the league. (As entertaining as that piece was from Fishbain, it left me with a “why did I just read that” feeling afterwards.)

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If a Quarterback Competition Happens in the Forest…

| August 10th, 2020


The quotes came from new Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

“At the end of the day, which guy’s raising the other ten guys’ level.”

“At the end of the day, it’s who moves our football team and converts on third down.”

Question. One word. When?

When is this raising of the other ten guys’ level happening?

When is the football team being moved?

When are these third downs being converted?

I might be having an Allen Iverson moment but…practice? We talking about…practice?

Quarterbacks are always the story in the NFL and a quarterback competition over the summer is the juiciest story there is for hungry football writers. But there are three things fans must consider before investing too much into this battle.

(1) Without preseason games, there won’t be anything resembling an obvious winner. Preseason games would have allowed the whole of the football world to evaluate the play of these two men and accurately assess which gave the Bears the best chance to win. Preseason games would have made fans active participants in the competition, enabling them to generate their own thoughts and opinions based on the palpable data of performance.

(2) The media will have their say on the competition but most of the important moments in camp practices, the parts where the actual game plan is installed and executed, happen after the media is sent away. You’ll learn far more from Adam Jahns’ insider reporting on Nagy’s thoughts than Brad Biggs’ impressions from a few passing drills.

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Trubisky Talks, But Now Enters Fight for His Football Life

| June 15th, 2020

Chicago Tribune: Mitch Trubisky confident he can win Chicago Bears job.

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NBC Sports: Trubisky still feels the Bears are his team.

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The Athletic: How Bears QB Mitch Trubisky is trying to reach a ‘different level’.

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Chicago Sun-Times: Mitch Trubisky – Nick Foles trade left me “kinda pissed off”.


We hadn’t heard much from Mitch Trubisky since the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Scratch that, we hadn’t heard ANYTHING from Mitch Trubisky since the conclusion of his disastrous 2019 season. The protesters were getting too close and the Bears sent their beleaguered young quarterback into the bunker without his fifth-year option. By the time he returned to ground level, a former-Super Bowl MVP was sitting behind his desk.

When Trubisky met (virtually) with the press last week, he said all the things you’d expect to hear, and are referenced in the headlines above. He hasn’t given up on being the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears. He believes he can be a better player. He’s not ceding ground to well-phallused Foles. Even though his voice seems incapable of rising above a sort of aw shucks monotone, there was certainly more resolve than we’d previously heard, more determination.

Will it matter? Probably not. Trubisky’s problem has never been that he doesn’t want to be great. He’s not JaMarcus Russell. He’s not Cade McNown. Since the day he arrived in Chicago the organization – both publicly and privately – has done nothing but praise the kid’s intangibles. He’s a good person, a great teammate, a hard worker.

The problem is he’s not any good at playing quarterback.

We’ve detailed where he struggled in 2019. Reading defenses. Getting into the right protections and plays. Deciding when to keep the football and get easy first downs with his legs. Hitting wide open receivers for big plays down the field. By every conceivable evaluative metric for quarterbacks, Trubisky ranked no better than 28th in the league, and often ranked below several backups.  He was objectively bad. If he played any other position, or the Bears had a serviceable option on the roster, he would have been benched well before Thanksgiving.

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The Pandemic Photo Gallery (Because…why not?)

| May 22nd, 2020

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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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Can We Start the 2019 Season Over Again?

| December 6th, 2019


Last night, against the Dallas Cowboys, Matt Nagy called his best game as Chicago Bears head coach.

Last night, even with a few wonky moments, Mitch Trubisky looked like the future at quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Last night, with another starter heading to the locker room and new faces all over the place, the defense of the Chicago Bears looked like the group everyone expected to make them title contenders this season.

And David Montgomery.

And Anthony Miller.

And Cordarrelle Patterson.

And Holtz and Horsted and Mack and Fuller and…

…can’t we go back and start this 2019 campaign over again?

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An Emotional Return, For Me and the Bears, on Thanksgiving Day

| December 2nd, 2019


Johnny Brogan tends the bar at the Copper Kettle in Woodside, Queens. He’s been behind the sticks for twenty-four years, mixing Bloodies and pouring thick pints of the black. He’s there on Thanksgiving. He’s there on Christmas. He’s there, seemingly always, the front man of my local saloon since moving to the neighborhood a decade ago.

Thursday, the bar was empty when I sat down fifteen minutes before kickoff. Brogie, as he’s known in the community, put an Amstel Light and pint of club soda in front of me. This was going to be a long day of drinking and I had to pace myself. I ordered a bowl of potato leak soup to lay something of a base. No bread. (I’m off bread.)

I approached Bears at Lions the same way I’d approached the last month plus of Bears football: with passionate indifference. The team – and more importantly the quarterback – lost me entirely with their shambolic performance against the New Orleans Saints. And the weeks since have been a slow drain of any emotional juice I might have pumping through my supporter’s veins. This is a rare mode for me to be in, as I’ve always espoused the “we’re only guaranteed 16 of these a year” mentality. But it happens.

Then it stopped happening.

Sometime on Thursday, things changed.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know exactly when.

But sometime during this Thanksgiving game, I found my hands clenched together tightly. The Amstels were going back quicker. The pacing started. The bathroom trips multiplied. Nerves. Anxiety. Even Brogie noticed. “Only seen you like this during the Masters,” he said, referring to my nerves watching Tiger wrap-up number 15 earlier this year.

Maybe it was the kid quarterback, playing with shattered confidence and a bum shoulder, putting his teammates on his back in the second half, delivering several of the best passes of his young career.

Maybe it was Roquan Smith, flying all over the field, reminding us all why he was considered one of the best young defenders in the sport coming into the season. We’ll never fully understand the mental sabbatical Smith took mid-season. But if he plays like that, we won’t remember it either.

Maybe it was seeing promising talents like Anthony Miller and David Montgomery dominate. Finally. And for the first time in 2019, having a sense that this offensive project under Matt Nagy makes some sense. That these fellas can deliver in this offense.

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