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Sport Brad Biggs: Where do Bears turn if Trubisky can't turn it around?

02:35  27 october  2019
02:35  27 october  2019 Source:   chicagotribune.com

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CHICAGO - While the Bears have too much invested in Mitch Trubisky to give up on him six games into his third season, they have to Chicago Tribune 10/26/2019 By Brad Biggs , Chicago Tribune. © Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS Injured Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky walks to the

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CHICAGO - While the Bears have too much invested in Mitch Trubisky to give up on him six games into his third season, they have to start asking hard questions at Halas Hall - even if that doesn't lead to immediate answers.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Injured Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky walks to the locker room after a loss to the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.© Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS Injured Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky walks to the locker room after a loss to the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England.

What do they do if their franchise quarterback can't even operate at a consistent level as a game manager?

That's where things are crumbling for the Bears because for Trubisky to be a game manager, they need certain aspects of the team to play a vital role. It's difficult - bordering on impossible - for him to be a game manager when they can't run the ball. That kills the offense because it puts the quarterback in critical down-and-distance situations that require him to make plays.

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How can the Bears even try to make Trubisky a game manager when they don't attempt to run the ball or they abandon the ground game after a few failed attempts? Now the limited Trubisky faces, say, third-and-7, and opponents will bring pressure and take away what the offense wants to do. How are the Bears going to respond? Not well.

It's potentially a worst-case scenario for general manager Ryan Pace, who traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 to draft Trubisky in 2017 and built a roster considered a serious NFC contender entering this season.

Whiffing on a quarterback with a top-five pick can set back a team four years or more. How long a team is handcuffed depends on how long it takes to admit the mistake.

Quarterback purgatory is the worst place a team can be, and the Bears know that terrain well. Think back to the second half of Jay Cutler's eight-year run with the team. That's when you see the starter benched to promote Jimmy Clausen, and that's when you wind up spending $18.5 million guaranteed on Mike Glennon.

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By Brad Biggs . Chicago Tribune |. Said Trubisky : “I know you guys are going to try to draw comparisons like that, but really it had — I wish I could have said this before, the snaps in the preseason has nothing to do with the way we execute or the sloppiness of tonight because we weren’ t

Where has it gone wrong with Trubisky? That's a tangled and multifaceted issue, and to be clear, the Bears aren't ready to pull the plug even in the face of mounting concerns.

A national scout for another team pointed me in the direction of Trubisky at this time three years ago, when he was putting up big numbers in his lone season as the starter at North Carolina and the Bears were clearly going to be in the market to draft a quarterback.

"I really liked all the traits, but I had a problem with a quarterback that couldn't beat out a guy (Marquise Williams) that was on the street the next year," the scout said. "Their head coach (Larry Fedora) was telling you something, and guys don't listen. It's like: 'Oh, we can make him better. We can improve him. We can always do this and that.'

"These college coaches, they get paid too. They know what the hell they are doing. That was the problem that I had."

The Vikings signed Williams - who started ahead of Trubisky for the Tar Heels in 2014-15 - as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and quickly cut him before he spent that summer on the Packers roster. He has bounced around the CFL and Alliance of American Football, and earlier this month the XFL's New York Guardians drafted him.

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Bears coach Matt Nagy spoke Thursday about wanting to see steady, incremental improvement from Trubisky. What's alarming is he's heading in the wrong direction.

"This is a learning process," Nagy said. "You've seen the glimpses. I take you back, for instance, to the Tampa Bay game last year. And there's a couple others too. You go to Detroit last year, where you see him make plays throughout the (game). There's plays that he makes, and so when you see those plays and you see him going through the highs of this offense, you understand it's there.

"Now, we need to get more of that consistently. So we need less of the gray and more of the highs, and that's going to happen and that happens in time. The difference is that the time is the issue right now. That's where we're all at. Time is of the essence."

Citing games in Weeks 4 and 10 of 2018 as examples - and not something more recent - underscores the issues with Trubisky.

So where do Pace, Nagy and the front office turn if Trubisky doesn't get back on track? He's signed through 2020, and the Bears must decide by May 5 if they intend to pick up his fifth-year option for 2021.

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The draft is unlikely to offer a solution. The Bears have only two picks, both second-rounders, in the first three rounds, so they wouldn't be in position to select one of the top quarterbacks without seriously mortgaging future draft classes with a huge trade. Finding a viable option after Round 1 seems even less likely.

"They're going to have a tough time getting eight quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl this year out of the senior class," the national scout said. "It's not a real quarterback-rich class. There's a few that are pretty good, but you kind of wonder about them and they have holes too."

A handful of veteran quarterbacks are coming out of contract. Tom Brady's contract voids after this season, and while Bears fans who saw Brett Favre go from the Packers to the Jets and then the Vikings can dream, the idea that a 43-year-old Brady would walk through the front doors of Halas Hall seems fanciful. Drew Brees' contract expires at the end of the season. Ditto Philip Rivers. They're more likely to re-sign with their current teams than go elsewhere.

The list of potential free agents also includes Eli Manning, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill and Case Keenum. Manning, 39, appears headed to retirement. Winston has been a turnover machine throughout his career. Mariota appeared more shell-shocked than Trubisky before he lost his job with the Titans to Tannehill.

Advice to Bears: Ditch woeful Mitch Trubisky for now

  Advice to Bears: Ditch woeful Mitch Trubisky for now The Bears should bench the third-year starter and play Chase Daniel for the remainder of the season -- or at least until their eliminated from playoff contention, Mike Tunison writes.In its first season under head coach Matt Nagy, Chicago improved from 5-11 to 12-4 and secured the team’s first playoff berth in eight seasons. Nagy’s reputation as an offensive guru reflected in the quick progression of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who emerged from an unexceptional rookie year under John Fox to become a promising starter. With a suffocating defense that thrived on rushing the passer, the Bears seemed primed for regular contention for years.

Bridgewater, who turns 27 next month, is probably the best option. He has been impressive in relief of Brees for the Saints this season, stepping into an offense with an excellent line and array of talented skill-position players. He generally takes care of the football - only 13 interceptions in his last 22 starts - and while he might not be an ideal fit, if the Bears are in the market for a quarterback, they're not going to be too picky.

Then there's the possibility Pace could trade for a quarterback. If young fill-in starters Kyle Allen (Panthers) and Gardner Minshew (Jaguars) continue to play well, it's reasonable to believe Cam Newton or Nick Foles could be available. Trade compensation might not be overwhelming, but both would come with big contracts. Perhaps the 0-7 Bengals would consider dealing Andy Dalton if they continue to spiral under first-year coach Zac Taylor and wind up drafting a quarterback.

Newton is a former MVP who has reached a Super Bowl, but he has had enough serious injuries that it's fair to wonder if he'll ever be the same. Foles won a Super Bowl for the Eagles filling in for Carson Wentz and got a four-year, $88 million contract from the Jaguars. Dalton helped lead the Bengals to the playoffs in four straight years (2011-14) but hasn't averaged more than 7 yards per attempt the last three seasons.

In a perfect world, Nagy and his staff would tap in to Trubisky's ability and straighten out the issues plaguing him, such as taking the wrong drop on occasion in Sunday's disastrous outing against the Saints. If he can return to the level at which he was playing a year ago, when he wasn't necessarily winning games for a team with a top-flight defense but wasn't losing them either, the Bears could resume down the path of believing he can make steady, incremental improvement.

If that doesn't happen, Pace needs to consider a plan for the offseason. Because one of the tenets of his job, as he has said, is being honest about his roster.

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