Debate all day if you’d like, but the problem the Chicago Bears have had offensively the last two seasons boils down to one position: quarterback.
It’s time to fix that and, at the very least, find a way to get consistency out of that position by signing Teddy Bridgewater.
The bottom line with Mitch Trubisky is that he either doesn’t have (a) the football intelligence or (b) the instincts to play the position. Whether it’s a dump off on fourth-and-long, taking bad sacks or — his favorite — refusing to throw the ball away, Trubisky didn’t get the job done in 2019 and there’s little reason to think he will in 2020.
Where Trubisky struggles, Bridgewater excels. He’s smart and decisive with the ball, delivering accurate passes on all levels — completing 47.8 percent of his passes beyond 15 yards, while Trubisky sat at 38.4. (While Bridgewater had a passer rating of 90.8 on deep passes, it would’ve been higher had Ted Ginn not dropped what ended up being an interception.) Meanwhile, six of Trubisky’s interceptions came on deep passes.
Bridgewater went through his early struggles in Minnesota, but even then he was better than Trubisky was last year. And there’s reason to think he is even better now after spending two years with Drew Brees and Sean Payton.
The idea that Bridgewater was just a cog in the Saints offense isn’t reality. The team had plenty of struggles around him, including dropping 8.6% of his pass attempts, a mark that would’ve led the league by a wide margin if he had enough attempts to qualify. He was also hurried, hit or sacked on 19.5% of his drop backs – not much different than the pressure Trubisky faced.
Yet, the Saints kept moving the ball and the more Bridgewater played, the better he was.
Don’t get me wrong, Bridgewater has flaws. He doesn’t throw deep often and tends to take some bad sacks. The latter is just going to be a reality with him, the former is something Matt Nagy coached out of Alex Smith and certainly can with Bridgewater.
Smith’s name is one to remember when discussing Bridgewater. The Bears can’t find another Patrick Mahomes, but with Bridgewater they could at least find another Smith. A quarterback who is good enough for the team to consistently compete with and buy them some time to go after their version of Mahomes. If they don’t win next year, they won’t have any more time.
Bridgewater might not be a franchise quarterback, but he won’t kill them. Trubisky had seven games in which his passer rating was less than 71 in 2019 alone. Bridgewater has seven such games in his ENTIRE career.
Think about the number of close games the Bears lost. Isn’t it fair to suggest that slightly better quarterback play would’ve gotten them to 10 wins? And a significant upgrade — which is what Bridgewater could be — would’ve had them contending for a Super Bowl?
[Editor’s Note: Yes.]
The contract issue is one that will come up with Bridgewater, but it isn’t likely to be a huge deal. Because of his injury history, it seems unlikely any team would offer Bridgewater a lot of guaranteed money. The Bears could structure the first two years of Bridgewater’s deal based on what they would otherwise be planning on paying Trubisky. Trubisky then could be traded to a team with more money than it can spend looking to take a flier on a quarterback — such as the Indianapolis Colts or Cleveland Browns.
The offseason is young and we still don’t know what the quarterback market will shape up to be. If Derek Carr becomes available, it changes everything. But Bridgewater is the best bet right now. He’s a guy the Bears can plug in — he played in a similar offense under Pat Shurmur in Minnesota — and get rolling with right away.
We’ll have plenty of time to break down the other options as they become available, but Bridgewater looks like the best bet.