With division rival Chicago set for Monday Night, it’s time for our weekly ‘5 Good questions’ post. This week, we look to Windy City Gridiron, the SB Nation site for the Bears. Writer Jeff Berckes of WCG was kind enough to do this week’s Q and A with us, so we hope you enjoy. If you’re on Twitter, WCG’s handle is @WCGridiron, and Jeff’s is @gridironborn.
1. Mitchell (don't call me Mitch) Trubisky became the face of the Chicago Bears the minute he was the second pick overall in the 2017 draft. The Bears made a really, um...aggressive...move to get him, moving up one spot while giving up a 3rd, 4th, and next year's 7th round pick to do so. At the time the move was really panned by almost everyone. Now that there is some distance from draft night, do Bears fans like the trade, or no? And do you agree with starting Trubisky now, should he have started from day one, like Carson Wentz, or should the Bears hold off a little while longer, like the Rams did with Jared Goff last year?
Okay, a lot to unpack there. First, I personally disagreed with the move to sign Glennon when the Bears had a stop-gap on the roster in Hoyer. I’m not saying Hoyer is great, but he was significantly cheaper than Glennon and that difference in salary was a real opportunity cost to sign an impact player or a couple of legitimate starters. Once the Bears made the move for Glennon, it seemed obvious to me that the focus on the draft would be selecting an impact player on defense at the top of the draft to help them take that next step in defensive evolution and take a developmental QB later to learn behind the Ginger Giraffe. Imagine my surprise when not only do the Bears draft Trubisky, but they give up significant capital to move up one spot because…yeah, not sure why that happened. We did see two more trades for QBs with Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, so it’s not completely crazy, but the whole process absolutely stunk. Grade on the trade - F
Taking all of that into consideration, the Bears entered the year with Trubisky running with the 3’s behind Mark Sanchez. Glennon didn’t really have to compete with the rookie (or Sanchez), but Trubisky’s star was already shining brightly in the preseason, and he started the season as the #2 in uniform. I’ll try not to pull a muscle here patting myself on the back, but for once in my life I made an accurate prediction at the beginning of the year – that Trubisky would make his debut in Week 5. I figured the Bears would be 1-3 or 0-4 at this stage and a 10 day prep period for a young QB seemed like the best time to pull the trigger. I got “lucky” in that Mike Glennon was so bad that Fox had no choice but to start him, but it still counts as a victory.
It’s the right time. Everybody wants to compare Trubisky to some QB of the past to make their point (Aaron Rodgers if you think he should sit, basically every other successful QB if you think he should play). Trubisky needs game reps more than anything. The Bears are not going anywhere this year – they lack the top end talent to win enough games – so why not use the opportunity to get the kid some experience and see what he can do?
2. Speaking of Goff, he was the number 1 overall pick last year, and when he did finally start playing he struggled mightily. The Rams fired their staff, and with new coaches and a new offensive scheme and philosophy that isn't some 7-9 bullspit, Goff is thriving early on. Are John Fox, OC Dowell Loggains, and QB coach Dave Ragone the right coaches for Trubisky to realize his full potential, or no? Do you think Trubisky is the long term answer at QB for the Bears, regardless of staff?
So, the Fisher / Fox comparison is actually pretty dang good. They have very similar records and styles. I think Loggains can coach circles around Rob Boras, who ran the worst offensive scheme I’ve ever seen in LA last year. Regardless, taking Trubisky at #2 overall basically marries the franchise to that decision for the next 4-5 years at a minimum. Why not go out and find the best possible coaching to maximize his potential? If I had to put $1 on it, I’d say General Manager Ryan Pace goes out and finds an offensive HC to pair with Trubisky for 2018.
As for the answer to the second question – I freaking hope so! The expectations for any draft pick at #2 are sky high and particularly at QB. If you blow that decision, it sets your franchise back a half decade or longer. The reality is no one knows. He was a prospect lacking in tape, but everything about his approach has been positive. The best thing I’ve heard about him is that he’s “all football, all the time.” I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to watch a Bears QB – admittedly a low bar – but at a minimum it will give Bears fans something to hang their hopes on.
3. The Bears are 1-3, and have looked horrible in their road games. At home though, they played Atlanta really tough before losing a nail biter in week one, and beat the Steelers in overtime. Why are they Dr. Jekyll one week, and Mr. Hyde the next?
Note: You cannot say 'it's all Mike Glennon's fault.' Even if it is, you know, all Mike Glennon's fault.
It’s definitely not some sort of road / home split thing as that hasn’t held any water the last few years. I think Atlanta was sluggish, I think Pittsburgh is terrible on the road, and I think the Bucs and Packers are just better football teams. Good teams don’t get blown out and the Bears already have 2 of those on their record. The difference going forward is the Trubisky effect – just how much will he lift the offense and will the defense now believe they have a chance to win games and play just that much harder.
4. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen seem to be a formidable RB tandem early on for your offense. Howard seems to be your 'between the tackles' runner, while Cohen reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles in terms of running and catching the ball. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the two, and how do you expect the Bears to employ them against the Vikings?
Howard is an every down bell cow in every sense of the word. He was fantastic as a rookie last year to little fanfare. He fights for yardage, falls forward, and improves as the game goes on, wearing down opponents with body punches. I think he’s a fantastic back and can be very successful in a run first offense with a good offensive line. If the Bears have their way, Howard will carry the ball 20+ times. Howard did a serviceable job catching the ball out of the backfield last year, but he definitely fights himself in making those catches. I think the Bears realized that when they plucked Cohen in this year’s draft.
Cohen is a live wire – crazy quick and the most exciting Bears player since Devin Hester. The Sproles comparisons are fair, and if he has a comparable career, I’d be happy. However, I think he’s got a more explosive element to his game than Sproles and that could make him special. If the Bears continue with their plan, Cohen will take a few carries to keep the defense honest but his role will lead the team in targets. The best plays the Bears can run right now are when they’re both on the field as they can split Cohen out and have him run receiver routes. As a matter of fact, an argument could be made that he’s the best receiver on the Bears right now.
5. Defensively, the Bears have been a lot better than advertised early on. What's been their key to success, and who do the Vikings need to game plan against if they want to have success offensively?
Interesting. They’ve been blown out twice and while a lot of that is on Mike Glennon, the defense just didn’t match up with the Packers offense all that well. I think the expectations for the Bears this year were that they would have a stout front 7 with growing pains in the back 4. Unfortunately, I think the front hasn’t rushed the passer that well and the corners have been up and down. I think scheming your offense so that Leonard Floyd is out in pass coverage is a win for you as he’ll impact the game less in coverage than rushing the passer. The Bears are also missing Jerell Freeman, Danny Trevathan, and Nick Kwiatkoski at inside linebacker, so I would attack the middle of the field relentlessly.
Bonus: So is Kevin White ever going to play meaningful football for the Bears? I really thought he was solid pick when the Bears drafted him. I can’t imagine he will. There’s no way the Bears are going to pick up his 5th year option and given the recurring theme around his career, it’s difficult to imagine him making a 3rd comeback next season. At some point, you just have to move on because his reps are taking away from others on the depth chart. Everything you read about the guy is positive though. He genuinely seems like a good guy who fights hard so it’s particularly difficult as a fan. For the record, I did not like the pick at the time. I was one of those on the Vic Beasley train, who went one pick later to Atlanta.