Mitch Trubisky

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

 

Browns Rumors: Jackson, Haslam, Haden

Hue Jackson did not want to confirm a report that he and ousted executive VP Sashi Brown weren’t on speaking terms, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the two had clashed on numerous occasions — and certain players were at the root of this friction. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo induced disagreements between the Browns’ power structure, as previously reported, but Cabot adds Jackson and Brown were at odds about the likes of Joe Haden, Demario Davis and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson wanted the Browns to sign Maclin, Cabot reports. They were loosely connected to the UFA wideout, but the Ravens, Bills and Eagles were well ahead of them. Jackson presumably wanted Haden to remain in Cleveland, but the Browns released him. Davis was also shipped back to the Jets and has enjoyed a productive season. Cabot also notes Jackson and Gregg Williams received pushback from some members of the front office in the Myles Garrett-vs.-Mitch Trubisky argument that transpired in April, with the coaches’ side winning out and Garrett being the pick.

Here’s the latest on a busy day in Cleveland.

  • Jimmy Haslam made this move Thursday in order to not fall behind on the GM carousel, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reports, adding the owner saw the Giants taking an early lead by landing their former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search to replace Jerry Reese. Ownership was “adamant” not to fall behind in this pursuit, per Grossi. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said during a radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland the early Brown firing was to get an early start on a John Dorsey push (Twitter link). The Browns do not have to wait until season’s end to interview Dorsey like they would an active exec, and Miller reports many believe he will be Cleveland’s next GM. Dorsey steered the Chiefs to three playoff berths in four seasons after taking over following a 2-14 season.
  • Haslam was tinkering with the idea to make in-season changes for the past couple of weeks, Albert Breer of SI.com reports, noting the owner was considering bringing in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him. But after research, the owner decided to fire Brown and begin a search for his replacement.
  • Both Breer and Grossi confirm the Thursday-afternoon report the Browns are going after Dorsey. Grossi reports Dorsey has been “endorsed heartily” by at least one of the football execs with whom Haslam’s already consulted. Breer notes a Dorsey/Jackson arrangement makes more sense than Brown/Jackson, with the ex-Chiefs GM’s scouting background aligning more with Jackson’s admitted old-school approach to football development. That, and not necessarily his impressive work in Kansas City, made him a key name to watch in Cleveland, Breer notes.
  • A Dorsey hire could well mean a more prominent role for ex-Colts GM Ryan Grigson, Grossi writes. Grigson’s currently working as a senior personnel exec, with an emphasis on scouting. Dorsey and Grigson’s friendship and mutual respect would stand to lead to a better title for the since-fired Indianapolis decision-maker.
  • The Browns’ decision to part with Brown and not Jackson could lead to an increased interest in Josh Rosen. Miller notes. Jackson likes the UCLA quarterback as a prospect, with a source informing the draft-based reporter Rosen is “Jackson’s guy.” Rosen seems more certain to declare for the 2018 draft than Sam Darnold at this juncture.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Bears, Lions, Saints

The 49ers considered Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft before deciding to trade the pick to the Bears, who ended up selecting the North Carolina product, coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco.

“I really liked Mitchell. He was really the only guy I flew out and saw. I spent some time with Mitchell and got to work him out. I spent a few hours watching tape with him,” Shanahan said.

“But that wasn’t something we were going to do with our pick. We felt like we had to go a lot of other different directions. Our goal was to add picks and get as many players as possible, and we are happy with what we did.”

Instead of taking the quarterback, San Francisco traded back one spot with Chicago and picked up the team’s first-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2017, and the team’s third-round pick in 2018. Interesting to note, that third-round pick was traded to the Saints, who tabbed breakout running back and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara.

Shanahan will get to see Trubisky up close on Sunday when the Niners travel to take on the Bears.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Sticking with the Bears and 49ers theme; Shanahan also said he was interested in hiring Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. A well-respected and longtime NFL coach, Fangio could be a candidate to replace John Fox in Chicago, should the coach be let go in the coming weeks. “I think Vic definitely deserves to be [a head coach]. He’s one of the coaches I’ve respected the most, just from going against him,” Shanahan said.
  • Though Fangio is an option, the Bears are likely to invest in an offensive coach to groom Trubisky, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Leading the list, of course, is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel, who always seems to be atop everyone’s wish list.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell should be safe if the team finishes 10-6, even if the team misses the playoffs writes ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He added that he expects Caldwell will return as head coach as of right now, but that could change in the coming weeks. Caldwell has managed two winning campaigns in his first three seasons in Detroit, or the same amount the Lions produced in the 14 years prior to his arrival.
  • The Saints will not use their remaining IR-to-return spot, writes Joel A. Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. The hope was that tackle Zach Strief would be an option to return, but that shelved after he underwent to repair his ACL and MCL two weeks ago. No other players on IR have a time table that would allow them to return.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Hundley, Lions

Although John Fox is known for his conservative tendencies, the Bears coach wanted to pull the trigger on starting the Mitch Trubisky era earlier than the team ended up going through with the quarterback switch. Fox raved about the No. 2 overall pick’s upside and was open to the team replacing Mike Glennon earlier than Week 5, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, ownership and management, due to Trubisky’s inexperience and the investment the team recently made in Glennon, halted the switch before finally agreeing to turn to the rookie after Glennon’s rough outing in Green Bay. Trubisky picked up his first career win as a starter Sunday, with the Bears beating the Ravens in overtime.

Here’s more from the NFC North, shifting to the division’s highest-profile quarterback situation.

  • Mike McCarthy doesn’t sound ready to explore outside solutions to replace Aaron Rodgers after the perennial MVP candidate broke his collarbone Sunday. The Packers coach said postgame (via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, on Twitter) Brett Hundley is his starting quarterback and Joe Callahan, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game yet, is the backup. A 2015 fifth-round pick, Hundley entered Sunday with 11 career pass attempts. The UCLA product threw three interceptions in the Packers’ loss to the Vikings. Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Matt McGloin are among the UFA options. Wisconsin native Tony Romo has stood out as an analyst in his first season, and the 37-year-old recently retired passer reportedly would only consider a return to the NFL if the Cowboys needed him. However, this would be quite the special circumstance, given the Packers’ recent track record.
  • The Lions continue to wait for left tackle Taylor Decker to return to action, and Greg Robinson has yet to prove a capable replacement. But it’s likely the former No. 2 overall pick will continue to function as the Lions’ starter on the left edge due to his experience advantage over Brian Mihalik and Emmett Cleary, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. However, Rothstein notes Decker might be ready to play by the time the Lions return to action in Week 8. A late-October return gels with the last update that emerged on Decker.
  • Teddy Bridgewater received good news on multiple fronts. Eligible to come off the PUP list on Monday, the Vikings quarterback is said to be ready to go. Bridgewater’s contract situation also looks to be breaking in a favorable fashion after previously residing in a murky place.

Browns Eyed Trubisky, Mahomes, 2018 QBs Over Watson?

For the second straight year, the current Browns front office is set to observe the team face a rookie quarterback upon whom it passed in that year’s draft. After Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott faced the Browns last season, Deshaun Watson will match up against the team he was often linked to in the pre-draft process.

But the Browns evidently had a multi-layered thought process behind moving past Watson, with Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reporting the team had Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Watson as their top three quarterbacks and likely in that order.

The Browns also bypassed Watson with their No. 12 pick in order to pick up a future 2018 first-rounder — their second high-2018 draft choice acquired from the Texans this spring — because of what’s being viewed as a superior class of quarterbacks likely set to be draft-eligible, Cabot reports. With two first-round picks and three second-rounders next year, the Browns would like to be “well-positioned” to draft a quarterback in the event DeShone Kizer is not their long-term solution. Considering Kizer was just benched for what Cabot notes will likely be for at least three games through the team’s Week 9 bye, that clock is ticking.

Cleveland may well have taken Mahomes, who had a private workout with the Browns before visiting the team in April, had the Chiefs not traded up to No. 10 and selected him, Cabot notes. Kansas City’s brass obviously shared the Mahomes-over-Watson line of thinking. The longtime Browns reporter adds some in the front office did want to draft Trubisky No. 1 overall, leading to “heated debates” before Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams‘ preferred player, Myles Garrett, went to Cleveland at No. 1 overall.

Jackson declined to say this week if he advocated for Watson, who has accounted for 10 touchdowns the past two weeks. The second-year coach also declined to speculate whether coaching Watson in January would have endeared him more to the team.

The Browns not viewing Wentz or Watson as the kind of game-changer they coveted is being scrutinized now that Kizer has been benched for 2016 practice squad signee Kevin Hogan, who has outperformed the second-round pick when summoned this season.

Viewing this demotion as a “temporary timeout,” Jackson anticipates returning to Kizer this season. The Browns are planning to obtain more evidence he’s the future to determine if the Notre Dame product is worthy of bypassing a signal-caller with all five of their 2018 first- or second-round picks.

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