Remember when misbehaving as a child led to your parents giving you the textbook line, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed,” and somehow that was worse? This might be the best metaphor to describe the 2019-2020 Chicago Bears season.
Fox Sports had the Bears’ over/under for wins at 8.5 going into the 2019 season, and as it turned out, their experts were right on the money. The Bears regressed to a mediocre 8-8 record- – possibly being the best team on paper to miss the playoffs in recent memory. The often sung verse of their fight song, “Make every play lead the way to victory,” morphed into, “Make every play lead the way to an incompletion, sack, and ultimately a 5-yard checkdown pass on 3rd down leading to a punt.”
To keep this from becoming commonplace, Bears General Manager Ryan Pace traded for QB Nick Foles on March 18 in an effort to make him a “relief pitcher” for Trubisky. Foles, the most accurate portrayal of the word “serviceable,” started a grand total of one game as a Kansas City Chief in 2017 before departing to Philadelphia in free agency. After a forgettable stint in Jacksonville, his $45 million in guaranteed money are latched onto the Bears’ organization for the foreseeable future. While his presence can potentially ignite the spark needed to recreate Trubisky’s Pro Bowl warranting season in 2018, it’s difficult to determine whether Foles will be on the sidelines as a mentor to Trubisky (and possible understudy) or chomping at the bit looking to recreate his 2017 substitute teacher role should Trubisky flounder right from the jump.
It seems as though Pace has whiffed on providing “his guy” with the veteran leadership necessary to develop a young quarterback. Let’s just hope Trubisky can foster a solid student/teacher bond with Foles, as the former Super Bowl MVP looks to resurrect his skill set of being a more-than-serviceable starter, capable of building a lead that the NFL’s top-ranked defense could protect throughout the course of a 12-win season.
Remember, the 2017 Chiefs season was a 12-4 campaign which saw the now reigning Super Bowl MVP, Pat Mahomes, learn under a 2nd tier quarterback in Alex Smith with a mentorship plan that seemed to work flawlessly. By no means should there be reason to believe Trubisky will ever be molded into the talent of Mahomes, but I do think mimicking the strategy is a fair idea on Pace’s part.
Mitch’s now elusive 20+ TD season in 2018 came within a first year system. It may seem like a cliche reference, but Mitch’s talent can be equated to a jigsaw puzzle – there’s a picture in there for sure, one you may even want to brag about to your friends once completing it. But the process of molding the finished product may become more mentally taxing than expected and you’ll ultimately want to admire an already completed puzzle instead. Even if that completed puzzle (Foles) is a bit older and more expensive, it may really tie the room together, as opposed to the unfinished puzzle you’re angrily trying to force pieces into with Trubisky.
The other factor in this edition of “Extreme Makeover: QB Edition” will be Matt Nagy’s willingness to accept the glaring limitations Trubisky is shackled with. You must run the football regardless of whether you think it will somehow stunt the development of your young quarterback. The notion of allowing Trubisky to make mistakes so he can learn while under center is somewhat valid. There is no excuse for actively choosing not to use a gem in David Montgomery that was gifted in the third round of the 2019 draft. While it is critical for a head coach to have faith in his quarterback and give him the freedom to orchestrate a drive, Nagy has to use his 2nd year running back in more integral role with the offense and let the miniature dynamo blossom in his own right. Should all go according to plan, this team could resemble a formidable playoff team.
And finally, the most critical component of having any success in 2020 will be based on how the Bears defense performs – one in which former defensive gurus Buddy Ryan, Lovie Smith, and John Fox would have salivated over had they been presented with the opportunity to coach this group. This defense can’t be wasted, especially having suffered through the laughable core Marc Trestman and Phil Emery put together from 2013-2015. Nick Foles arrives with a career record of 17-3 when his defense gives up less than 17 points – a stat which shows he’s more than capable of steering the ship on offense while the defense protects the lead. Khalil Mack, and new addition Robert Quinn, will likely form the best edge rushing combo in the NFL. Baring anything catastrophic, Mack is going to have minimum of 4-6 above-average years of production left and will justify his contract. I think there’s a chance this team leads the league in sacks next season with him on one side of the field and Quinn on the other.
2020 Prediction: 10-6 record with a defense ranked top 5 in points allowed and combined sacks.
Thank you for taking the time to check out my latest post on the Chicago Bears. If you liked this post, please share it – I’m looking to foster an ever expanding audience. If you would like to see what I’m up to when I’m away from the keyboard, I invite you follow me on my Twitter & Instagram pages. My handle is @suttonrettig. I so appreciate your readership and offer my sincerest thanks for your support.
All the best,