Tag Archives: Mitchell Trubisky

Chicago Bears: Mid-Season Report Card

The “Monsters of the Midway” entered the 2017 season knowing it is in the middle of a rebuild.  This isn’t a team that was looking to “tank” though.  The Bears’ rebuild consist of trying to be competitive throughout the season.  It’s a way of “filtering out the excess fat” from their roster.

Quarterback:

Entering the season, the Bears faithful knew they’d be in for some nonsense.  Signing Mike Glennon in free agency and moving up in the first round to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was a recipe for disaster from day one.  Glennon was never going to get a fair shake, as the fans wanted to see the younger player and the media made Glennon’s spot on the team seem useless.  Glennon’s play on the field didn’t help to quiet that noise either.   Mike Glennon had a completion percentage of 66.4% but that was because he seemed to scared to throw it downfield and basically dumped it off to running backs and tight ends all day.   Ultimately his 8 total turnovers did him in and got him benched, which of course led to the starting of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky.  Things didn’t get much better.  Trubisky’s completion percentage is under 50% and in four games he has two touchdown passes and four turnovers.  Glennon and Trubisky don’t have a lot to work with in terms of coaching or talent (keep reading) but in just looking at production from the position a solid D minus even seems generous.

Running Back:

If it wasn’t for Jordan Howard, the Bears wouldn’t have much of an offense this season.  With that being said, it’s not as if he’s putting up “elite-RB” numbers.  His 83 yards a game coupled with his 4.1 yards per average is consistent work at least and you can’t knock him considering he’s being run into the ground.  In the eight games he’s played, he’s already carried the ball for 162 times.  Bears fans fell in love with Tarik Cohen and his 5’6″ frame in week one. Then after that, there hasn’t been much to applaud him for.  He seems to try to do too much when he has the ball now and the Bears just aren’t creative enough on offense to devise schemes for him.  The Bears should look passed Cohen on the depth chart and start handing the ball off to Benny Cunningham more.  Cunningham is more of the traditional back, who can take some of the pounding off of Jordan Howard.  Because of Howard’s toughness alone, and him alone in this backfield, you have to give it a grade of a B.

Wide Receiver/Tight End:

Nothing to see here folks.  Even if Kevin White and Cameron Merdith didn’t suffer season ending injuries, it’s hard to believe it would be a much better group of wide-outs than the one that’s currently presented.  Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if they aren’t getting opportunities because the play calling is so bad, or if they’re just not that good.  The loss of Zach Miller was not only horrific to watch but also took away the most reliable target on the team.  Rookie Adam Shaheen was supposed to be one of those “sleeper picks” in the draft, and so far he has one catch which was a two-yard touchdown reception. . .yay.  Hopefully the acquisition of Dontrelle Inman will help boast this group but it’s pretty pitiful.  Easy grade of an F.

Offensive Line:

Glennon and Trubisky have combined for 19 sacks this season but when watching the tape, the blame isn’t all on the offensive line.  This is a tough group led by Kyle Long and Josh Sitton.  Cody Whitehair slips up once in a while but all in all he’s continuing to be a solid contributor.  The Bears have the third most rushing yards in the league and the backs are averaging a respectable 4.3 yards a carry.  If healthy this is a good offensive line who’s grade is a B.

Defensive Line:

If there is a mid-season MVP for this Bears team, I’d have to go with Akiem Hicks.  Hicks leads the team with 7 sacks, demands attention and is the player on this defensive front who offensive coordinators must plan around.  His All-Pro-Like play has opened up more opportunities for Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman.  The Bears are allowing on 3.9 yards a rush this season and most of it is due to this defensive front that finds itself in the opposition’s back field more times than not. Grade A.

Linebackers/Secondary:

A healthy Danny Trevathan is a welcomed sight to this defense.  He leads the team with 52 total tackles and definitely has added that “aggressive nature” the Bears defense has been lacking in recent history.  Rookie safety Eddie Jackson came out of Alabama with a lot of talent but also a history including injuries so many were wary of him.  He could prove to be the safety the Bears have been needing for years if he keeps playing at the level he’s been playing at.  Even if you take away that game when he had two pick-sixes he’s still been playing like one of the steals of this year’s draft.  His pairing with Adrian Amos can be the building blocks for rebuilding a secondary.  Fans want Kyle Fuller to be “the guy” – but I don’t see it.  Ever.  Regardless, this is a physical group of players from the linebackers to the secondary who will get a grade of B plus.

Coaching:

First the good:

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell both get an A for their efforts this year.  Donatell has really got the young guys in the secondary playing with confidence and as mentioned above they seem to be developing quickly into legit NFL talents.  Fangio has been one of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators for years and it’s his defense that has kept the Bears in games, even when the offense is trying to give them away.

Now the bad:

Head coach John Fox, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains all get a D at the midpoint of the 2017 season. The offensive play calling is as predictable as a New Year’s hangover.   “Run, Run, Pass, Punt,” appears to be the offensive call to arms, especially since the team made the switch to Mitchell Trubisky.  Trubiksy has displayed some arm strength and the ability to throw on the run, but the Bears refuse to open the playbook for the struggling rookie.  This all falls on John Fox, and seriously nobody even knows if he’s mentally checked out already or not.  Rumors have been floating around since the draft that he’s a lame duck coach this season and they’ll be looking to change the culture next season.  Bears fans everywhere hope so.

After calculating the grades, the Bears get an overall mid-season grade of a C.  That is both a surprising and “not-so-bad” grade for a team with a 3-5 record who at the beginning of the season was looked at as an NFL “doormat.”  The last 2-3 years saw a Bears team that would quit, especially defensively.  The re-emergence of the Monster of the Midway can give the fan-base hope.  Just imagine if this team had a decent offense what they could look like. . . They’ll be lucky to finish the season with seven wins, but if they keep playing like they are, there is definitely a core here to build on.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

The “Franchise” Quarterback

I grew up in a time when it was beat into your head that “defenses win championships.”  And it seemed to be true.  The ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even the New York Giants that ruined a perfect season – they all had amazing defenses.  Even Bill Belichick’s Patriots were more defensive minded and oriented before Belichick realized the rules of the game would favor the offenses.

And that brings us to today.

Sure it’s great to have a good defense, but what does that get you in today’s NFL?  Last season the Cardinals and Jaguars ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in defensive yards allowed.  A stat that is really over-rated is “sacks” as half the teams in the top ten of that category didn’t even make the playoffs.  And although last year’s Patriots defense allowed the least amount of points per game, it was more because of WHO they played then HOW they (the Patriots played).  The Patriots DID have the number three offense in the NFL last year though – and they ended up playing against the number one offense in the NFL, the Falcons, in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s game featured a game with two clean cut quarterbacks with “video game” like statistics.  And the fans loved that.

Now a days, it’s not about the defense winning championships.  Its about the “quarterback.”  Not even the offense – just the quarterback.  Nobody wants to see a “defensive battle” on television anymore.  In a sport who’s fan-base has basically tripled because of fantasy football and daily fantasy football games – defenses are the devil.  The NFL knows that – which is why with today’s rules being adjusted, you can’t touch a quarterback, you must keep your hands off of a receiver and don’t you even THINK about hitting somebody too hard!  Because of these rule changes and a desire/need to see big numbers put up by offenses, the quarterback has become the focus of the league.

Before I go into why the quarterback is the “focus” of the NFL, let me just say. . . I’m still true to the belief of “owning the line of scrimmage.”  An offensive line is truly the key to any successful offense.  An offensive line adds balance to an attack, and security for the quarterback position.   With that said,   NGSC’s own Kyle Nash, has made sure to painfully and constantly remind me that Aaron Rodgers is probably the only QB to win a Super Bowl with a below average offensive line, which only ADDS to the fact that having a QB in today’s NFL is crucial.

Some quarterbacks can make average receivers look better than they are, for example: Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Dan Marino (sorry Clayton and Duper fans. . .) – these are the guys who can master their system and build guys up within it.  Then there are guys who need some talent around them so they can really flourish, for example Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner – their is nothing wrong with being in that latter category – it’s just facts.

The quarterback has not only become the leader of a team on offense, who must have the skill set to take advantage of the rules set forth today in the NFL – they must also be “the face of the franchise.”  It used to be running backs for the most part, but the quarterback determines how a team will be perceived and welcomed by the media – not just with his stats, but with his demeanor and personality.

Quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and even at times Cam Newton – make themselves easy targets for the media to pick apart what they do.  Anything from body language, social media posts or post game comments – can leave a negative affect on the media and in turn become what is talked about to each quarterback’s respective teams.

Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning helped to usher in this new era of quarterbacks.  All time greats, who smile when they have to smile, say all the right things and stay out of trouble (stop it with deflate-gate already. . .).

This poses a problem in today’s microwave-society though.   Fans want their favorite team’s franchise QB to become Manning or Brady overnight.  Fans have no patience for a quarterback to mature or grow within a system.  This usually ends up in coaches being fired, and the quarterback left in a position where he is doomed to fail.  Remember Jason Campbell?  Early Alex Smith?  And soon to be, Blake Bortles?  The media ends up destroying the mold of a team’s franchise quarterback because the “results” are not immediate.

Even Andrew Luck is feeling that pressure right now.  Unfortunately for Andrew Luck, he is playing with one of the worse rosters in the NFL, and in a division that has become increasingly more competitive (eh, the Jaguars still have Blake Bortles at quarterback though so. . .).

The Chicago Bears moved up in the draft to take Mitchell Trubisky number two overall.  That kind of move means the franchise has all the faith in the world for him to become their “guy” in the near future.  But wait, didn’t the Bears just sign Mike Glennon to be their starter at a ridiculous price?  And when they did, weren’t they making all kinds of ridiculous praises about him?  Yes. Yes, they did. Teams like the Bears are desperate at the quarterback position and need the media and fans to believe they have someone under center who can lead.  The Jets need it.  The 49ers.  The Texans.

In short, the quarterback position is more than just the most important piece of the puzzle in building a roster.  The quarterback is also the chip that puts a franchise in a better light.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio