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I hear Matt Nagy will have his starters sit out the second quarter against the Packers Thursday night to optimize health at halftime. Given how good the local sports commentariat thinks these Bears are going to be, three full-strength quarters out of four should be more than enough to blow away Green Bay.
The biggest football game in Chicago since the 2010 NFC championship loss (that actually occurred in January 2011) to that same delightful team from Wisconsin kicks off the 100th season of NFL football on NBC at 7:20 p.m. And no, I don't think anyone will sit out any of it.
I'm also optimistic about the Bears but the problem against the Packers is the team from up north wins the quarterback match-up in a landslide. Aaron Rodgers has been winning NFL football games with his arm for more than a decade now. There isn't a starting quarterback in the NFL who isn't in his first year at the helm who has thrown fewer passes against live competition post-high school than Mitch Trubisky.
That doesn't mean young Mitch won't be a winning signal-caller overall. It does mean that if he struggles at the start of the season we will all have to scratch our heads yet again about why Ryan Pace and Coach Nagy continue to ignore obvious elements of successful quarterback selection and development.
I understand you don't want to get your quarterback hurt in meaningless preseason games. And perhaps even more important, you don't want to get any of your best offensive linemen hurt.
But Trubisky hasn't thrown enough passes against competition, period. He didn't throw enough in his one season as a starter for a mediocre team with a mediocre scheme at North Carolina, and he hasn't thrown enough passes in games in the NFL. Why Nagy doesn't acknowledge this and get him some game work in the preseason (like many other NFL coaches continue to do with quarterbacks with far more experience than Trubisky) continues to mystify.
In college, Pat Mahomes threw more passes in a month's worth of games at Texas Tech than Trubisky threw in his entire career. It was no wonder Mahomes hit the field flying last year and kept it going until just missing a trip to the Super Bowl, while winning the MVP award.
And Mahomes, who was drafted eight picks after Pace made that crushingly bad trade up to get Trubisky No. 2 in the 2017 NFL draft, will always be a primary peer for the Bears' quarterback. The other one is the Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson, who was also about a hundred times more accomplished coming out of college in 2017 (and was drafted right after Mahomes) than Trubisky. And he looks poised to have a huge season this year as well.
Then again, neither Mahomes nor Watson has the Bears' defense working to get them short fields to work on. Barring significant injuries, there is no reason to believe this Bears unit, with nine of 11 starters returning (I consider the nickel package the starting defense at this point, and the Bears brought in new nickel back Buster Skrine to go with new safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), won't be one of the best in the NFL. Oh, and did we mention that four of those nine were named All-Pro first team at the end of the 2018 season?
It is time for Trubisky to upgrade from game manager to game winner if he is to even begin to justify being drafted that high. But for a Bears team that again this season features a great defense first and foremost, the most important thing will be for him to not screw up.
Last season may have ended with the double doink, but more importantly it ended with Trubisky completing several beautiful throws to star wide receiver Allen Robinson during the clutch drive that set up that field goal attempt. If Cody Parkey had made that kick, the Bears could have said Trubisky didn't just win a game with his arm, he won a playoff game.
My prediction is the Bears win the division at 11-5 and the quarterback will get another great shot at postseason glory.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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