clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bears mailbag: Should we be concerned about Mitchell Trubisky? Clinching the division against the Packers, The first draft question of the year and more.

A win against the Los Angeles Rams? A chance to clinch the division against the Packers? Week 15 is shaping up to be an early Christmas gift!

Los Angeles Rams v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
NFC Conference Championship - New Orleans Saints vs Chicago Bears - January 21, 2007
Brian Urlacher holding the George Halas Trophy, after advancing to the Super Bowl.
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Week 14 brought an early Christmas gift for the Chicago Bears and their fans. Not only did they knock off the best team in football, at home, on Sunday night football, but they find themselves at (9-4) with a chance to not only clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, but clinch their first NFC North crown since the 2010 season.

It has taken some help along the way and none more than the Minnesota Vikings current two-game losing streak. But here we are. What better way to clinch the division than to beat the Green Bay Packers and deliver the final death blow on their disappointing season?

Either way you cut it, Sunday is setting up to be a sizable celebration for the Bears and this deserving fan base. Whether that’s a win, or a Vikings loss to clinch the division, or even a Washington Redskins loss to clinch a playoff spot. The Bears will have three separate chances to punch their playoff ticket.

And that is what makes this such an exciting time to be a Bears fan.

I fully expected to get a ton of questions on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and I was not disappointed.

Let me start of by saying, I get it. Trubisky has been up and down this season and a game where he throws three interceptions and fails to eclipse 120 passing yards isn’t exactly going to inspire confidence from the fan base.

With that being said, I think we all need to take a step back and breath.

Yes, Week 14 may have been the worst game of his young NFL career. But even so, he was on pace to break the Bears single season passing yards record, along with eclipsing 30 passing touchdowns in just his second year, before hurting his right shoulder. All in all, 2018 has been a big step up for Trubisky and that is something that should give fans some hope. On top of that, his worst game came off a two-game absence from an injury to his throwing shoulder. That context needs to be shared.

I know it can be hard to see Patrick Mahomes light it up, but as I’ve said all along, their developmental situations since being drafted have been completely different. It’s time that we focus solely on Trubisky and what he’s doing for this team.

It’s also time we take a look forward at the team’s cap situation — not bad but also not nearly as flexible as we’ve seen the past four years — and of course their lack of first round draft picks over the next two off-seasons. The reality? Trubisky is here to stay, for at least the next two years. I’d say much, much longer, but again, I still think at worst, he will be an average quarterback. Even if he’s not “the guy”, the Bears don’t exactly have the resources to do much about it until the 2021 off-season.

Trubisky has the ability to help lead this team to a Super Bowl. Maybe not this year, but they are strong enough everywhere else that he doesn’t need to be the sole reason, but simply one of many reasons, why they can win it all. Consistency is a big key, but let’s give this more time before we completely write him off or start our search for the new franchise quarterback.

According to our very own, Jack Silverstein, it was Christmas day of 2005 when the Bears last clinched a the division against the Packers. I’ve attached Jack’s response for your viewing pleasure.

Christmas may come early this year and it would be a gift that every Bears fan would cherish for another 13 years.

On this day (December 11th, 2018), we have our first draft question of the season. My, how times have changed...

Full disclosure: One of the main reasons I picked this question is because I’m an Oklahoma fan and I love Rodney Anderson. I also continued to believe that the Bears will move on from Jordan Howard in the off-season (despite his recent 100-yard game).

When I look (a very shallow dive) into the 2019 NFL draft class, I don’t see nearly the same amount of talent at the running back position that I’ve seen the past few seasons. For one, there’s no elite talent this year and secondly, there’s not a ton of top-end talent compared to previous years.

With that being said, if Anderson (a first round talent, if not for injury issues) is there when the Bears have the last pick in the third round (see what I did there?), they should absolutely take him. Not only is he an outstanding runner, he has great hands out of the backfield and is a pretty good pass blocker as well. He’s the complete package. The biggest issue for him has always been health, but the good news is a lot of his injuries has been bad luck, rather than durability issues.

Even so, I’d be somewhat surprised if he lasts so late in the draft. All of this, despite tearing his ACL earlier in the Sooners’ season.

This is a very good question and one that may be somewhat hard to answer, considering everything involved.

First, I’ll start off by saying that Adam Shaheen’s injury in preseason really screwed up the Bears plans and how they planned to use their tight ends. These things happen, but don’t underestimate the plan they had for the former second round pick heading into the season.

Secondly, Shaheen came back at an odd time. After being activated off of injured reserve against the Vikings in Week 11, he played limited snaps. Then the team turned around a played a their second game in 88 hours on Thanksgiving, which he missed with a concussion. Once he came back, he was sliding into an offense with a backup quarterback. His third game back was one where Trubisky couldn’t hit an open receiver to save his life.

Honestly, this offense has been in reverse over the past few weeks, at least from my view. Whether that’s because of the quarterback situation, facing better defenses, or anything else that I have failed to mention, it’s been the defense carrying this team as of late. That makes it hard to get new pieces involved, especially when their top tight end Trey Burton has been almost non-existent.

Overall, I’d expect them to keep using him in goal line situations, but don’t discount his value as a blocker. He’s been a big reason why the Bears have run the ball better the past few weeks, especially sealing off the outside.

A whole lot.

It all starts with the Bears winning out. That means victories against the Packers, 49ers and Vikings. On paper, that doesn’t seem overly daunting but we’ve seen that this team can beat anybody but also lose to any given team.

From there, it’s focusing on the two teams in front of them.

  1. Saints (11-2) with games remaining against Panthers (x2) and the Steelers.
  2. Rams (11-2) with games against the Eagles, Cardinals and 49ers.

From a tie-breaking standpoint, if the Bears finish with the same record as either two teams, they would win that battle.

From a realistic standpoint, the Saints are far and away the most likely to lose two of their last three. But even then, it still seems unlikely that things will go that nicely for the Bears down the stretch.

In such a great year for the Bears, there’s been a lot of talk about not only Executive of the Year (which I think general manager Ryan Pace should absolutely win) and of course Coach of the Year with head coach Matt Nagy.

Now I have to admit, for as much as I love what Nagy has done so far, I think that this race is much closer. I’m also not sure that I could objectively give it to him at this point. Even for as impressive of a turnaround as the Bears have had, there’s just too many good coaches out there right now.

If I had to do a top five right now, this would be my list.

  1. Pete Carroll (Seahawks)
  2. Andy Reid (Chiefs)
  3. Matt Nagy (Bears)
  4. Sean McVay (Rams)
  5. Frank Reich (Colts)

There’s also a host of other coaches like Sean Payton (Saints), Bill O’Brien (Texans) and a few others that there could be an argument for as well.

Really what this comes down for me is doing the most with either as little as possible, or a big turnaround from the previous year. That’s why I give Carroll the nod here. At least for me, I had the Seahawks as a five-to-six win team. Especially when looking at all of the star power they lost and everything that went wrong during this past off-season.

Reid has done an outstanding job, especially with a first-year starter in Mahomes and after trading away Marcus Peters.

The other one that really stands out to me on this list is Reich. We all know the story of the Colts head coaching search. He goes from a last option, to having his team firmly in the Wild Card race. All of this being a year removed from people questioning whether Andrew Luck would ever play again. On top of that, they had a terrible offensive line and a defense that couldn’t stop anybody. Now all of the sudden, those are two strengths of the team.

It’s possible Nagy could win it but there are a ton of great coaches this year and that shouldn’t take away from what he’s been able to do with a Bears team that had 14 wins in a three-year period, prior to the 2018 season.

In all honestly, none of the possible match ups in the first week of the playoff scare me.

Ideally, I’d rather not see the Vikings in back-to-back weeks, purely from a boring factor. I also think that the harder the defense is, the more issues the Bears will have. Albeit, Kirk Cousins against teams over (.500) hasn’t been very good.

I think when I look at potential teams to face, I’d want the Bears to stay away from the Eagles (who are currently on the outside looking in). Their experience factor is something that worries me a bit. Coupled on top of the fact they’d be on a slight roll to even make it in.

Here would be my “preferred” list from a match up standpoint:

  1. Panthers
  2. Vikings
  3. Seahawks
  4. Eagles

Regardless, I think the Bears match up well with anyone at home in the Wild Card round.