At Quarterback, What Hope Looks Like.

| October 31st, 2022

Justin Fields is now stacking good performances, a pivotal development in the life of a young quarterback. Since October 9th, with his excellent second half against the Minnesota Vikings, Fields has established himself as a rising young star in the league and quite possibly the class of his position from the 2021 NFL Draft. (Over this same span, Trevor Lawrence’s regression has been palpable.)

First, a mea culpa. Earlier this season I suggested Fields be given a few weeks on the sideline. Not as punishment, mind you, but the game seemed to be moving far too fast for him and he looked like he needed to take in a few Sundays as a spectator and student. (Also, with the modern practice schedule, it is very difficult for a player to improve week-to-week, on the field.) I was wrong. Fields has seemingly played through his issues. His clock has slowed. He’s processing the game quicker. He, along with his offensive coaches, have found a balance when it comes to how the quarterback uses his legs to move the chains. And perhaps most impressively, he’s more accurate on the short and immediately throws.

Fields hasn’t just been better. He’s been good. Most of the box scores are irrelevant. The offensive line, already not among the better units in the league, is now besieged with injuries. And as Fields has become more confident and accurate with the football, the deficiencies of the wide receiving corps have become more evident. They drop too many passes. They fumble too often. They never attack the football in the air. They are a passive, unimpressive group in desperate need of 2023 upgrade.

[Note on this: We are seeing, however, the value in pieces like Mooney, Velus and Kmet. But the team lacks a top thread on the outside.]

There are, however, a few relevant stats.

  • Fields’ last four QB ratings: 118.8, 71.5, 85.2, 120. (And the 85.2 against the Patriots was too dramatically impacted by the interception.)
  • In those four games he has a TD/INT ratio of 5/2.
  • Yet those stats are only about his throwing, and we are seeing each week that his abilities as a runner are perhaps his most special trait, and about as special as you’ll see. In those four games, he has 277 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. He has not lost a fumble.
  • This means that Fields, when these rushing stats are coupled with his passing numbers, is responsible for about 250 yards of offense per game over the last month. He has also accounted for 7 TDs and only 2 turnovers.

For a young QB in a new system, this is terrific production. And for a franchise desperate for stability at the sport’s most important position, this is what hope looks like.

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ATM: Ugly Win Leaves Chance for Hope…Maybe.

| November 12th, 2019

The National Football League has a way of toying with our emotions. Just when we thought the Chicago Bears were dead, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel – enough that the 2019 season could still end up being relevant.

Nothing that happened was pretty. And nothing suggests that the Bears are going to suddenly be even a mediocre team, much less the kind of team that can contend for the Super Bowl. But that’s the funny thing about this league. As long as teams can stay alive, they leave a chance that the switch is going to flip and they could become the team they were supposed to be.

Mitch Trubisky wasn’t great on Sunday. (He was barely even adequate.) But over the last three weeks he has made enough good throws that everyone can see the potential. That potential very likely will never be reached. Even at his best, he leaves a touchdown on the field and makes drive-killing mistakes.

But maybe beating a crappy Lions team is turning point?

Maybe the team just needed a boost like the one Nick Kwiatkoski gave them.

Maybe Kwiatkoski is a sleeping superstar hidden behind two studs? In the two games he has seen extensive action he has 20 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He’s far from flawless, but if he keeps making impact plays, that doesn’t matter.

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Sunday Column: At 1-3, All Hope for 2017 Season Is Not Lost

| October 1st, 2017

The 2017 Chicago Bears have played four games, all against teams that finished 2016 with a winning record.  It is easily the most difficult four-game stretch of their entire campaign and, at 1-3, they’ve dug themselves a hole. But it’s not an inescapable one. But they can only escape the hole by embracing reality and turning the football over to the future of the franchise.

At home they ranged from respectable to downright terrific, sporting a powerful rushing attack and a tough, improved defense. They should have beaten the defending conference champions and without the use of a professional quarterback, they hung on for dear life to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the road they were a disaster worthy of J.J. Watt’s charity. The quarterback was an embarrassment and as a result the team was rendered non-competitive.

Now the Mike Glennon Experience must come to its humiliating end. Signing Glennon can be viewed two ways. Many believe GM Ryan Pace committed starter money to the Once & Future Backup in an act of draft-jockeying subterfuge, allowing the Bears to pursue their quarterback of the future (Trubisky, Mitch) without the other thirty-one clubs getting wind of their intentions. Even if you buy that theory, it doesn’t answer one important question: why did they still play Glennon in September when he was so poor all summer?

Other folks, including the author of this piece, believe the Glennon signing to be a grotesque evaluative error. Pace and his pro personnel people believed Glennon was good enough to hold down the starting gig for the entirety of 2017 and win a bunch of games. Remember, the Bears were not guaranteed Trubisky. Two weeks before the draft the Browns were rumored to be considering him with the top pick. Pace thought Glennon was a viable NFL starter. Everything the misshapen signal caller has done since his signing in March has proven him 100% wrong.

[Author’s Note: I can’t tell you how happy I am to wrap up that paragraph and wrap up my Mike Glennon writing career. I took little joy in the last seven months of DBB. And I’ll never understand why the Bears did what they did.]

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