The Bears aren’t shock jocks. They almost always do what you think they’re going to do, and usually with predictable results that range from blah to yuck.
There’s a smoking crater where that image used to be.
On Thursday, the franchise that takes chances every century or so traded up to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, a talented, largely unproven commodity.
To call it stunning almost captures the moment, but not quite. The Bears? A quarterback? With the second pick overall in the draft? Are the End Times upon us?
A tip of the cap to general manager Ryan Pace for having the courage to make a choice that is very much a roll of the dice. I have no idea whether Trubisky will be a good NFL quarterback. But I like the idea of the Bears throwing caution to the wind and going for it. They haven’t had an excellent quarterback since Jim McMahon, and I think it has slowly dawned on them that they can’t win a Super Bowl without one. And when I say slowly, I mean slooooooooowly.
That led them to draft a quarterback who started one season at North Carolina. Anyone who tells you that Trubisky is sure to be an NFL star is a liar. Anyone who tells you that the Trubisky pick will either make or break Pace and head coach John Fox in Chicago is telling the truth.
There were much surer things in this draft for the fainter of heart. Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas would have helped the Bears’ defense. LSU safety Jamal Adams would have, too.
But the Bears, who had the third pick overall heading into the draft, wanted Trubisky so much that they switched spots with the San Francisco 49ers, giving up a third- and fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, as well as a 2018 third-round pick, to get him. That’s a steep price for a quarterback most of the country didn’t know until about six months ago.
“We had conviction on this quarterback, in his special attributes, and we did what we had to do to get him,” Pace said.
There’s already criticism that the 49ers pulled the wool over the Bears’ eyes, and there was serious doubt in NFL circles that the 49ers had any other offers for the second pick. Maybe the Bears were bidding against themselves, the way they did when they signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon this offseason.
“If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” Pace said.
The only way any of this matters is if Trubisky, 22, turns out to be a dud. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the novelty of hope attaching itself to the Bears.
“I’m only scratching the surface,” Trubisky said of his potential.
Jay Cutler fatigue might have influenced the Bears’ thought process. It wasn’t just fans who were tried of watching wheels spin on Sundays. The organization was tired of it, too, and in the NFL, that’s how a cataclysmic decision like this can happen. Everybody was restless after eight years of Cutler.
Glennon will be the starter in 2017 while the inexperienced Trubisky stands on the sideline and learns.
Glennon’s signing was greeted mostly with eye rolls and head shakes. What happened Thursday was the opposite of that. This was wide-eyed shock.
“I didn’t see that coming at all,” Trubisky said. “It was a total surprise. I’m glad they came up and got me at No. 2. I think it showed that they believe in me.”
The Bears gave Trubisky no indication they were going to draft him. They put him through a private workout “and then it was silence,” he said. That explains why he was as surprised as most of Chicago.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson would have been an easier sell. He had played well in two straight national championship games. He’s more of a known commodity than Trubisky.
This is where you have to give Pace some space. He and his staff have studied film until their eyes were bloodshot. They’re paid the big bucks to discern the pros and cons of each player.
Of course, someone who watched a lot of film once picked Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.
Trubisky didn’t talk about wanting to be the Bears’ starter in 2017 when reporters asked about it, though he did say he’s ready to compete. Smart guy. No need to put pressure on yourself or ruffle feathers.
There will be plenty of time for blame if this thing doesn’t work. But now is the time to smile, shake your head and think about the crazy world that would have the Bears, of all people, doing something like this.
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