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A late-round quarterback won’t elevate the Bears

Mine for championship gold later in the draft and you’ll find pyrite.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Baylor v Georgia Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Bears will eventually cut their losses with Mitchell Trubisky.

When they do, it definitely won’t be today. It won’t be tomorrow. A new quarterback era might not begin in the next calendar year. But the time is coming soon, and it’s inevitable. For every bust the bell tolls.

It’s difficult to place any fault in the Bears for beginning to see the forest for the trees with their once prized pupil. Trubisky’s development continues to be his professional downfall. Three years into a tenuous NFL career, the 25-year-old has yet to show any tangible sign of being the franchise quarterback Chicago thought it was drafting in April 2017. Any moments of meaningful progress have been derailed by frustrating inconsistency. Peaks of brilliance are overshadowed by plateaus of incompetence and dark valleys of utter ineptitude.

The Bears cannot win with their incumbent passer as he stands. They might be capable of floating around .500 and staying relevant into December, but they’re not a January threat. They don’t strike fear into any legitimate contender or NFC power, and it’s mainly (though, not entirely) because of Trubisky’s failures. They’re almost as close to February with Trubisky at the stead as they were in 2017, when they anointed him.

Trubisky’s stunted growth puts the Bears in a unique bind. A largely ready-made defense built specifically to win in the here and now can’t afford to waste any more prime years with a quarterback that can’t earn his keep. An organization that went all-in on an ongoing short-term title window, and subsequently took out on a loan on money it didn’t have, is not in the business of waiting idly for everything to click for Trubisky. The sand in the hourglass is down to its last few drops. Chaos will reign once it does.

There’s been warranted speculation that the Bears will be on the market for a veteran quarterback this spring. Any number of names such as Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, Cam Newton, and Marcus Mariota can potentially don their own fresh orange and blue jersey. If a recalibrated coaching staff featuring additions of Bill Lazor and John DeFilippo can make chicken salad out of chicken shit, the Bears are in business.

“Club Dub” business. Winning culture business. Contending business.

Where this noble plan falls apart is in any notion of drafting a quarterback after the first round and making him the “future.”

Since the start of the 2000 season, in what can be safely designated as the modern era, there have been 16 separate Super Bowl starts made by a quarterback drafted after the first round. Disregard Tom Brady’s seven appearances (a major transcendent exception), and Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon, Jake Delhomme, Matt Hasselbeck, Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Nick Foles are the only overlooked signal callers to have made it to the Big Game. Johnson, Brees, Wilson, and Foles are the only individuals to have won the Big Game. Wilson, who is quietly becoming an all-time great, is the only player to have been originally drafted by the team he made the start for, aside from Foles (who was in his second stint with Philadelphia).

The numbers are not infallible and do possess a strong pungent scent of “Quarterback Wins,” but the conclusion remains the same. You can get to the Super Bowl by signing a veteran ready-made quarterback that’s been around the block. And in most cases, you can only win it with a quarterback drafted high. Commercial and first class planes land in the same runway, but not always at the same time. Sometimes that landing is rough due to inclement weather and faulty mechanics.

It’s an enticing prospect for the Bears to divest themselves in another project this April. Talented young men like Jake Fromm, Jalen Hurts, and Jacob Eason, to name a few, possess enough of a track record for desperation to win the day. But the Bears selecting one now, and likely using one of their valuable top-50 picks that can be optimized elsewhere in the process (at tight end, for one), is not a quality modus operandi. It reeks of negligence, and ignores history. It’s a tacit admission that perhaps 2020 and 2021 aren’t as important as they once seemed. It’s licking your wounds and hoping the scars heal soon before you dive back into the championship picture sometime, whenever, perhaps later in the decade, perhaps until the next “window” cracks open.

The Bears have a first-round pick again in 2021. They’ll be in an ideal healthier position to start over under center. Wait until next year before considering a new prodigy at quarterback. Trubisky’s ouster is inevitable. An experienced stand-in can operate just fine in the mean time. His hopeful long-term replacement need not be ushered in through the door so swiftly.

Robert contends that Tarik Cohen can always try playing quarterback full-time if the Bears are that disheartened. It can’t get any worse. It can, but it probably won’t.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski. You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.