Potential quarterback options for Bears in offseason

Jacob Vanzuiden, Courier Staff

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It’s been a dreadful, worst-case-scenario type of season for the 2019 Chicago Bears. As a team who once had Super Bowl aspirations heading into September, they’ve now fallen to a record of 4-6 after dropping five of their last six contests (four games back from the NFC North-leading Packers). While the team’s defense has remained its biggest strength, a despicable offense has led to their demise.

The Bears’ 262.7 offensive yards per game ranks third-worst in the NFL, just behind the Washington Redskins and New York Jets. They’re also bottom-five in points scored per game. There are several areas to blame, whether it be the suspect play-calling by head coach Matt Nagy, porous offensive line play, or wideouts’ inability to reel in balls thrown their way (Chicago’s wide-receiving corps leads the league in dropped passes). However, the biggest factor that has stalled the development of this offense in year two under Nagy has been the incompetent quarterback play of former second-overall pick Mitchell Trubisky.

After tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018 and being selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, the 25-year-old was fully expected to take that next step in his development. He’s taken a step, but it’s been in the wrong direction. Trubisky has appeared to be just a shell of his former self, as his passing yards per game, quarterback rating, completion percentage and yards per attempt all rank in the bottom-five amongst all starting signal-callers.

The North Carolina Tar Heel has been under heavy scrutiny ever since entering the league in 2017, many arguing his 13 total college starts (all in his junior season) weren’t enough to warrant such a high-capital draft selection. It’s left fans around the league scratching their heads as to why general manager Ryan Pace would opt to take Trubisky instead of someone with prestigious college credentials like Deshaun Watson or reigning-MVP Patrick Mahomes. Needless to say, it’s come back to bite them.

Even in his third season in the league, around the time many young quarterbacks take the proverbial leap, Trubisky still struggles mightily with decision-making, reading defenses and most of all accuracy. His flaws have been thrust under the spotlight this season with Nagy seemingly trying to mold his quarterback into one that would better fit his offense instead of playing to his strengths like in 2018. Last season, the Bears (and Trubisky) saw success by establishing the run with an above-average offensive line, allowing their quarterback to roll out of the pocket a multitude of play-action passes where he could find open receivers or use his underrated rushing ability to move the chains. Nagy was also able to disguise his plays exceptionally well, throwing defenses off guard. However, as we’ve seen with Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams as well, defenses always catch up to those sorts of things with time in the NFL.

Whether or not you believe most of the blame for this season’s struggles should be pinned on Trubisky, one thing is clear: he is not the long-term answer at the helm for Chicago. He has six games left this year to show he has any type of resilience, but realistically, this team will all but surely be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason. When fully healthy, the Bears still pose a championship-caliber defense, and it would be foolish for them to waste a competitive window by continuing to roll with Trubisky. Luckily, there are several names set to be available in the spring that could help right the ship in the Windy City.

The first option the Bears have, and also the most unappetizing option, is to bring in a low-end, game-manager type of quarterback that could at least efficiently run Nagy’s offense. The names that come to mind that fit this category are veterans: Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers and Marcus Mariota. If Chicago would opt to take this route, they could keep Trubisky on the team’s roster as a backup, and at the very least, it would mean someone is challenging him for snaps. Both Dalton, 32, and Rivers, 37, have proven to be effective quarterbacks throughout their careers, but fans would have to wonder what either of these guys have left in the tank.

The next option they’ve got, which seems like the likeliest scenario, is to break out the checkbook and sign a younger veteran to a large, multi-year deal. Both Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater land in this category. While Newton will still be under contract with the Carolina Panthers, the Bears could swing a trade to bring the former MVP to Chicago. He would almost certainly be greeted with a new contract if this were to happen. Last week, it was reported by NFL insider Ian Rapoport that Newton would “welcome” an opportunity to suit up for the Navy and Orange if “everything worked out.” Now 30 years old, it should be noted that he’s currently rehabbing on what’s been a nagging foot issue. If (and only if) he’s healthy come March, this would be the ideal move for the Monsters of the Midway.

Although, Teddy Bridgewater wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. The 27-year-old has played his way into a lofty contract after leading the New Orleans Saints to a flawless 5-0 record while Drew Brees was on the shelf for five weeks. A former Minnesota Viking, Bridgewater has experience playing in the NFC North and is the type of high-floor, low-risk guy that could help turn Chicago’s offensive woes around. The only problem is, he will likely demand upwards of $25 million per year.

Last but not least, they’ve got the draft, which is going to be difficult to land a big-time arm talent without a first-round pick (sent to the Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade). Someone that could fall to them in round two, however, is the University of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm doesn’t have the biggest arm, which is perhaps the only thing holding him back from being a first-rounder. He’s shown precision accuracy throughout the year, consistently squeezing passes through tight windows and throwing his receivers open. Fromm also possesses big-game experience, taking the Bulldogs to the CFB National Championship in 2018.

The Bears have a plethora of options on their hands to fill their biggest need heading into 2020. Which route Ryan Pace will take is anyone’s guess, but landing the right guy could vault them back into contention as soon as next season. As a team that’s only seen the playoffs once in almost a decade, this fan base deserves a gunslinger that can take them to the promised land.

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