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Bears Lose QB Competition

Nick Foles must have really sucked.

That is the only explanation for Mitch Trubisky keeping the starting quarterback job after a miserable 2019 season that featured him, in his third season as the Bears' primary starter, regressing in every way, He regressed in ways we didn't think possible, leaving him rated 30th or lower among quarterbacks in a host of categories.

Ryan Pace held a press conference Monday in which he said Mitch Trubisky had risen to the challenge of a competitive training camp. No sports fan in Chicago other than Lou Canellis of Fox Chicago believed him. And may I just say right here, bless your amazingly optimistic heart Lou! 99 percent of Bears fans including me think you go overboard at times but you gotta be you!

I have long believed that more teams should do what the Bears did this preseason, i.e., have that open quarterback competition. But yes, I have also heard those who think they are very clever as they become the 1,000th character to repeat some iteration of "a team that has two quarterbacks has no quarterbacks."

Be that as it may, sometimes the best course forward is to give multiple guys a real shot. And I think the Bears did that. And I think Foles was terrible.

Maybe the Jaguars, who were good enough in 2017 to give the Patriots a huge scare in the AFC championship game before stumbling in 2018 and collapsing last year, had legitimate reasons for choosing Gardner Minshew over Foles, eh? (The gazillionaire who owns the Jags, Shahid Khan, is a proud U. of I. guy by the way. Just so you know.)

So where does that leave us? Well, fellow Bears fans, we don't have a paddle and we are way up the Chicago River after a big storm.

Yes, Trubisky has more experience with a couple critical individual receivers, Allen Robinson in particular, and that must have given him a sizable edge in training camp.

I suppose there is a small chance that Trubisky has improved in a few small ways and there is a slightly better chance that he was significantly hampered by a shoulder injury more than we know for the last couple months of last season. How will we know if the quarterback has improved this time around? Here's an easy one: He needs to run the ball at least a half dozen times in the first game.

Perhaps the most irritating thing about Trubisky last season is that after a successful season in 2018 that featured him running the ball reasonably frequently, someone told him to stop running (a parent? an agent?) and he made a determined effort to do so. That may have made a little bit of sense after he hurt his shoulder a handful of games into the season but overall, it was a brutal miscalculation. Running the ball, and even more the threat of running the ball as he moves up in the pocket, needs to be one of Trubisky's primary weapons. And if he gets hurt, well, the Bears have a nice expensive backup, don't they?

Of course, there is also a chance free agent tight end Jimmy Graham has miraculously regained the Pro Bowl form that deserted him a long time ago. That would be the chance between razor slim and none, but still! Not absolute zero! Virtually every analyst who broke down which teams did best and worst in NFL free agency this past offseason cited the Bears overpaying an almost certainly over-the-hill Graham as one of the worst moves.

Why did I just say "virtually every analyst?" It was absolutely every analyst.

But that was just the latest episode of major malpractice carried out by Pace. Let's review, just in terms of the quarterback position: He traded up to draft Trubisky second in 2017 (with Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson still on the board - the two of them signed contracts this past offseason worth a combined $660 million), but he kept former head coach John Fox, a defensive specialist, to oversee Trubisky's initial development.

Strangely enough, that did not go well. Also in that offseason, Pace signed free agent quarterback Mike Glennon to a contract that paid him a guaranteed $18.5 million. Glennon was so bad the Bears faced a fan revolt that season and Trubisky was pressed into service way before he should have been.

Does everyone remember how Pat Mahomes started his now glorious NFL existence? In 2017, despite his clearly possessing potentially overwhelming talent, he backed up veteran Alex Smith until the last game of the year, which just so happened to be meaningless to the Chiefs, who had already clinched their playoff position. Smith then started the playoffs for the Chiefs. It didn't go well but it didn't go terribly.

Nevertheless, between the '17 and '18 seasons, the Chiefs traded Smith and made Mahomes the starter. He has since won the league MVP one year and the Super Bowl MVP the next.

Of course Trubisky should have sat out all of '17. Of course he was only brought in to start after four games not because it was time, given his development to that point to do so, but because Glennon had failed so miserably.

The year before that, rather than drafting Cowboys star Dak Prescott with one of his three picks in the fourth round (the Cowboys took him toward the end of the fourth, after the Bears had passed once, twice, three times a quarterback), Pace went through the draft without taking a signal-caller in any round.

Apparently he thought it was more important not to offend returning starter Jay Cutler than it was to at least take a shot with a late-round quarterback. And another thing . . . actually, my mental health requires me to stop at this point.

And yes, the defense has the potential to finish in the top five in the league this fall. Some of that depends on rookie out of Utah Jaylon Johnson (late-round pick Kindle Vildor has also apparently shown potential in training camp at cornerback, so you have that going for you) stepping right in competently at cornerback. Some of that also depends on someone stepping up at safety next to Eddie Jackson. But the most important thing is that human earth-mover Akiem Hicks is back on the defensive line after missing most of last year with an elbow injury.

Sadly, when an offense is as bad as the Bears project to be, it wears down the defense no matter how good it is.

My prediction? 6-10.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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