Mitchell Trubisky

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky To Start Vs. Rams

The Bears expect to have quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center when they face the Rams on Sunday, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Chicago has struggled with Chase Daniel at QB for the last two games and Trubisky’s return is expected to give them a boost. 

Daniel was sharp in a Thanksgiving win over the Lions, but the Bears were upset by the Giants last weekend in a close contest. Daniel is regarded as one of the better backup QBs in the NFL – despite his lack of actual playing time in recent years – but things just didn’t click for Chicago with Daniel at the helm.

I think it’s a transition for our own players on offense,” head coach Matt Nagy said on Thursday. “All of a sudden you have a new teacher, right? A substitute teacher comes in, and it’s a different voice and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Do I like this teacher or not?’ ”

Trubisky, 24, threw for 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions before a shoulder injury took him out of action. Of course, his six TD/zero INT performance against the Bucs boosted that ratio, but he’s been playing solid football on the whole this year.

The Bears already have a 94% likelihood of making the playoffs, according to Five Thirty Eight, but a win against the star-studded Rams would clinch a postseason berth and move them even closer to the divisional crown. A combination of a Bears win and a Vikings loss would pretty much seal up the NFC North for Chicago, allowing them to rest key players down the stretch.

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Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky Out For Week 13

The Bears will once again turn to quarterback Chase Daniel when they face the Giants on Sunday, as starter Mitchell Trubisky will sit out with an ongoing shoulder injury, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Per Garafolo, Trubisky is healthy enough that he could play if Chicago allowed it (although he’s still not throwing, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com). But playing it safe is probably the right decision for the Bears, especially given their playoff position and their opponent in Week 13. Not only does Chicago have a 96% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North (per FiveThirtyEight.com), but the club is a four-point favorite on the road against New York.

Making his first start since the 2014 campaign, Daniel completed 27-of-37 attempts against the Lions in a Thanksgiving Day victory. Daniel, who inked a two-year, $10MM contract with the Bears during the offseason, tossed two touchdowns against the Lions, and while he certainly doesn’t offer the upside of Trubisky, he is capable of managing wins, especially with the NFL’s top defense supporting him.

The Bears don’t believe Trubisky’s injury is a long-term issue, and given how close he was to playing this week, it stands to reason he’ll be available when Chicago takes on the Rams in Week 14. After that pivotal matchup, the Bears will close out the season against the Packers, 49ers, and Vikings.

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North Rumors: Bears, Nagy, Ravens, Vikings

It’s still unclear if Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be available to face the Giants on Sunday, but Chicago is confident Trubisky’s shoulder injury won’t turn into a long-term issue, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com tweets. Trubisky missed the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions, but Chicago was still able to manage a victory with backup Chase Daniel under center. The Bears have a 98% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North, so they may not want to risk Trubisky’s health in what could be another easy win against New York. Trubisky did practice on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), although it was in a limited fashion.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While Trubisky might be healthy enough to play on Sunday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco almost certainly won’t be ready for Week 13. Flacco, who is still dealing with a hip issue that has cost him two games, didn’t practice on Wednesday and appears likely to sit out Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). First-round rookie Lamar Jackson, who has led Baltimore to two victories in his first two starts, figures to be under center again when the Ravens take on the Falcons. Meanwhile, offensive lineman James Hurst returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined since mid-October, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Matt Nagy will lead the Bears against the Giants on Sunday, but New York never showed any interest in hiring him as a head coach during the offseason, as he told reporters — including Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link) — on Wednesday. That’s in line with PFR’s 2018 Head Coaching Search Tracker, which shows Nagy only interviewed with the Colts and Bears. The Giants, meanwhile, met with Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Eric Studesville, and Steve Spagnuolo before hiring Pat Shurmur. Nagy, for his part, could take home Coach of the Year depending on how Chicago’s season ends.
  • Speaking of current Bears coaches, Chicago is worried it could lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Fangio has interviewed for two head positions in the past, but both have been with clubs that already employed him (Bears in 2018, 49ers in 2015). While he didn’t land either of those gigs, Fangio could be in line to move into a head coaching role after that’s currently ranked first in DVOA by a relatively wide margin. As Glazer writes, however, Fangio’s age (60) could work against him as many clubs are searching for younger coaches.
  • By going over the 100-catch mark on Sunday, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen triggered an escalator in his contract, tweets Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thielen, who inked an incredibly team-friendly extension last spring, will now see his 2019 base salary increase from $3.85MM to $5.85MM. If he tops 90 receptions in 2019, Thielen will boost his 2020 salary from $5.35MM to $7.35MM.

Bears To Promote QB Tyler Bray, Cut CB Marcus Cooper

Marcus Cooper‘s second Bears season did not feature much work. The veteran cornerback logged just three defensive snaps in 2018, and his time with Chicago may be ending.

The Bears, who are facing the prospect of being without Mitch Trubisky for their Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions, promoted quarterback Tyler Bray from their practice squad, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

Trubisky was sore this morning and didn’t have as much shoulder movement as he expected to, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding it’s likely Chase Daniel will start in Detroit. This would be Daniel’s first start with the Bears. He did see action in blowout wins over the Buccaneers and Bills, however. Trubisky is listed as doubtful, pointing to a Daniel start in a key game for the NFC North-leading Bears.

Chicago may well have the quarterback depth chart the Chiefs once did behind Alex Smith for a three-year stretch earlier this decade. Both Daniel and Bray were Kansas City backups during a few of Matt Nagy‘s seasons in Kansas City. Despite being a 2013 UDFA, Bray — a Tennessee product — has only thrown one pass in a game. He signed with the Bears this offseason.

Cooper re-signed with the Bears on a one-year, $1.5MM deal this year as well. He started in four games and played in 15 last season, making 30 tackles. The 28-year-old corner missed time this year with a hamstring injury but has been buried on Chicago’s depth chart. He will head to waivers.

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Breer’s Latest: Cardinals, Rosen, Dolphins, Chiefs, Kafka, Bears, Trubisky

The Cardinals finally made the decision to insert Josh Rosen into the game last week, giving the public their first look at the last of the ‘Big Four’ quarterbacks to make an appearance. All four of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Rosen are starters now, and Rosen was the last to see game action. The Cardinals’ plan had reportedly been to continue to start Sam Bradford moving forward, but he played so poorly that he forced Arizona’s hand.

Apparently for Cardinals coaches, Rosen’s command of the huddle in his brief relief appearance last Sunday “was the final piece of the puzzle in deciding to the pull the trigger on the quarterback switch” reports Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer notes that Cardinals sources told him Rosen has “been outstanding of late in practice”, and it sounds like they have full confidence in the rookie signal caller. The tenth overall pick from UCLA will get his first start this Sunday at home against the Seahawks.

Here’s more from Breer’s latest column:

  • The Dolphins have shocked everyone with their 3-0 start, and Breer has identified at least one reason behind the unexpected strong first few weeks. “There was an effort from coach Adam Gase, EVP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier to get faster” across the board. Breer points to the team’s offseason addition of speedsters Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker as evidence of the identity change.
  • Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka is a “name to keep an eye on” according to Breer in future coaching searches. Reid apparently assigned Kafka, then a quality control coach, to do one-on-one work with Patrick Mahomes last year, and thinks quite highly of him. Reid has an extensive coaching tree of former assistants, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kafka, a former quarterback under Reid in Philadelphia, become the next one.
  • Scouts are concerned that Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is too quick to tuck and run, and isn’t processing the field, according to Breer. Breer writes that “Trubisky seems to be making a single read, and running if it’s not there”, and that his processing ability had previously been seen as one of his biggest strengths coming out of college.

Extra Points: Trubisky, Bears, Cook, Grimes, Buccaneers, Seahawks

With a new coach and a young franchise quarterback, there’s naturally a lot of excitement about the 2018 Bears. The addition of Khalil Mack only added to that excitement, and expectations will be high for first year coach Matt Nagy.

While Mitch Trubisky will be expected to take a step forward in his second season, not everyone is sold on the former second overall pick. Dan Pompei of The Athletic spoke to three NFL scouts about the Bears, and “all of the scouts expressed some degree of uncertainty” about Trubisky. One of the scouts even called him “the weakest link of their team” according to Pompei.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former NFL player Jameel Cook was arrested and charged with defrauding the NFL by submitting false claims to the players’ health reimbursement account per ProFootballTalk.com. Cook, a fullback who played eight seasons for the Buccaneers and Texans, allegedly stole $100K.
  • The Buccaneers will be without number one cornerback Brent Grimes for their Week 1 game agains the Saints according to Scott Smith of the team’s official website (Twitter link). It’s a big loss for the Bucs, who already have a thin secondary, and a big boost for Drew Brees and co.
  • With the Seahawks placing cornerback Dontae Johnson on injured reserve, the starting spot is likely to go to fifth round rookie Tre Flowers, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN (Twitter link). Per Henderson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll raved about Flowers, saying he’s a “really smart player” who’s “done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

 

Bears Seek To Interview McDaniels, Shurmur

After the firing of head coach John Fox Monday morning, the Bears were expected to look for an offensive-minded coach to take over the role in 2018. Josh McDaniels (vertical)

They began the process Monday night, requesting interviews with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (Twitter link).

McDaniels is the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator who has called the shots for seven top-five scoring offenses during his tenure with the team. He also has head-coaching experience, leading the Broncos for parts of two seasons in 2009-10. McDaniels is already being sought by a bevy of teams and will certainly be a splash for the Bears.

The Bears have plenty of familiarity with Shurmur, who has been with division rival Minnesota for each of the last two seasons. Under the veteran coach’s direction, Minnesota locked up the No. 2 seed in the postseason while fielding a top-10 scoring offense. Even more impressive is that the unit accomplished the feat without its starting quarterback Sam Bradford or rookie sensation running Dalvin Cook, who were both lost early in the season to injuries. Like McDaniels, Shurmur has already garnered interest from a number of teams.

Either coach would certainly benefit rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who general manager Ryan Pace said will have a say in the team’s head-coaching decision. McDaniels has worked with Tom Brady for much of his career and also helped groom Jimmy Garropolo in New England. Shurmur’s offense has also helped veteran signal-caller Case Keenum produce a breakout year in 2017.

Should they decide against an offensive mind, the Bears might look in house at defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Whoever receives the job is likely to sign a four-year deal to match the extension Pace received earlier in the days.

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Bears Extend GM Ryan Pace Through 2021

On the heels of firing head coach John Fox this morning, the Bears have decided to extend general manager Ryan Pace through the 2021 campaign, team president and CEO Ted Phillips told reporters (Twitter link). Ryan Pace

Pace’s original deal was set to expire at the end of the 2019 campaign. With the two-year extension, Pace will likely be on the same contract length as the head coach he will bring in.

Pace joined the Bears in 2015 following a 14-year run with the Saints as a scout and director of player personnel. At 37 years old at the time of his hiring, the Texas native was the youngest general manager in the NFL.

Phillips commented on bring back Pace, saying, “He’s earned the opportunity to see his plan to fruition.”

Under Pace’s direction, the Bears traded up one spot in the 2016 NFL Draft to nab North Carolina product Mitch Trubisky. Before pulling the trigger on that deal, he made an interesting decision to sign Mike Glennon to a three-year $45 MM deal. Glennon started just four games in 2017 before he was replaced by the rookie.

During his press conference, Pace hinted that Trubisky would be involved in the head-coaching interview process. “That’s definitely something we’re going to look into,” he said. The Bears are expected to hire an offensive-minded coach but Pace says the team has not submitted any requests to interview current coaches.

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Bears Fire Head Coach John Fox

After three losing seasons, the Bears have fired head coach John Fox, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (Twitter link). John Fox (vertical)

Rapoport also noted (Twitter link) that the team will look at offensive-minded coaches to work with first-round pick Mitch Trubisky, while defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will also be a candidate.

The Bears finished in last place in the NFC North in each of Fox’s three seasons with the team. In 2016, Chicago finished with a 3-13 record, its worst finish since 1969 (1-13). His .292 winning percentage is the second worst in franchise history behind Abe Gibron‘s .274 mark in the early 1970s.

Fox joined the Bears in 2015 following a productive four-year run in Denver, in which he led the Broncos to a 46-18 mark and advanced to the Super Bowl in his third season. Before joining Denver, Fox spent nine seasons as head coach in Carolina, where he led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance in just his second season on the job.

The Bears are expected to begin interviewing candidates this week and the coaching search is said to include names from the college ranks. Since the departure of Lovie Smith in 2012, the Bears have not had a winning campaign and will now be on their third coach in six seasons.

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NFC North Notes: Vikings, Nelson, Trubisky

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was hired to his post mostly because of his mastery in calling an NFL defense. Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator for six seasons before making the jump to the head coaching ranks in 2014. Although, he’s still been calling Minnesota’s defensive plays for the past four years. However, that is something that may change come 2018, reports Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune.

Krammer passes along that Zimmer almost gave up his playing calling duties this past year to defensive coordinator George Edwards. He ultimately decided against the move largely because of his success at calling defensive schemes for the past 18 years. Zimmer did express that Edwards is the main orchestrator of the team’s defensive game plan for the most part anyway.

“George does everything,” Zimmer said. “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game. So he’ll come in and talk to me about second down-and-whatever. ‘They’re doing this,’ or, ‘they’re doing that.’ Really, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

Edwards used to call plays for the Bills back in 2011, but has taken a backseat in that regard in order to work as a member of Zimmer’s staff. This dynamic could be a subplot as we approach next year’s training camp because Zimmer appears to be letting go of the idea that he has to be the one making the final defensive decisions on Sundays.

“It’s a lot of work when you sit down and do it,” Zimmer said of calling plays. “I’ve done it for a long time. And because I have confidence in George, as well. I think maybe just the fact that, um, you know, I don’t know – I guess I’m just getting older.”

Here’s more stories from around the NFC North:

  • In other Vikings news, wide receiver Jarius Wright is reported to have restructured his deal at the beginning of the season, which dropped his base salary from $2.5MM to $1.05MM, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Goessling notes that Wright has earned weekly roster bonuses of about $93k in order to get back his original salary figure. With that in mind, he’ll have earned back the rest of his money by the time Week 17 kicks off.
  • Packers longtime receiver Jordy Nelson appears to be stuck in limbo with the organization the drafted him back in 2008, opines Rob Demosvky of ESPN.com. Nelson, who’ll turn 33 over the summer has seen a major drop off in production in his 10th year in the NFL. Demovsky suggests that the veteran wideout may hinder the team’s ability to re-sign the more productive and younger Davante Adams, who’ll be a free agent this offseason. Nelson will collect about $10MM in salary and bonuses in 2018, which will make him more difficult to cut or trade in the next few months. Randall Cobb is signed long-term as well, but is five years Nelson’s junior, which makes him a better piece to have moving forward. Not being able to sign Adams would be a major blow for a Packers team that saw what life is like without Aaron Rodgers this year. This puts the Packers in a very difficult position entering a crucial offseason with the team having missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
  • Mitch Trubisky has had his moments during his rookie campaign, but has largely faced a lot of difficulty in his first season in the NFL. It’s expected that the Bears coaching staff and roster will have a lot of turnover this offseason, but the young signal caller expects to take a “big jump” in 2018, reports Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune“I’m always motivated to get better,” Trubisky said. “I expect to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The experience I got this year, I’m definitely going to carry that with me into the offseason and expect to have a lot of momentum and just a full head of steam going into next year.” While he experienced a number of challenges in 2017, Trubisky emphasized “growth and development” in his reflection of his first foray into professional football. Expect the Bears to put an emphasis on surrounding Trubisky with more talent this offseason. He’s had to work with patchwork receiving groups all year long, which certainly does not bode well for his outlook moving forward. The former first round pick comes into Week 17 completing under 60% of his passes, while throwing just as many touchdowns as interceptions at seven apiece.