In the Bears’ 24-21 loss to the Raiders in London, we saw the limitations of backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
He’s 33, 6 feet tall, not overly strong-armed, not particularly athletic, not particularly anything.
This is not to pile on Daniel, a career bench guy who’s playing only because of Mitch Trubisky’s left shoulder injury. It’s to point out that playing quarterback at a superior level in the NFL is without question the most difficult task in all of team sports, and the great ones don’t dangle like drooping fruit on an apple tree.
Daniel didn’t lose that game, in which the Bears were favored by 5½ points, but he didn’t make it winnable. His false-start penalty and two interceptions were balloons popping on the way to a possible 4-1 Bears start.
So be it.
Now all hope rushes back onto Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, and his future.
In short, if Trubisky, in his third year, isn’t the answer, the Bears are screwed. It means they go back to the drawing board, where they’ll hope somebody can sketch a quarterback fast who can take advantage of a defense that seems Super Bowl-ready, even if London was a (hopefully) brief disaster for it.
Maybe it’s worthwhile to mention just how difficult and fragile the quest is to find a Super Bowl-quality NFL quarterback. In general, a Super Bowl-winning QB is a great one — think Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady. But occasionally the winners are just good, and lucky: Phil Simms, Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Joe Flacco, Nick Foles.
Whatever the case, you will not see a Peter Tom Willis or Caleb Hanie get you there. There must be some genuine goods.
And so every team hunts fiercely for a quality quarterback, even if they already have one in charge. Because superstars can go down with an injury at any moment.
Right now the Saints’ Drew Brees and Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger — Super Bowl champs and future Hall of Famers — are out with injuries. The Panthers’ Cam Newton (Super Bowl 50) is also out.
Mason Rudolph, who stepped in for the Steelers after Roethlisberger went down, is out with a concussion.
Foles, the MVP of Super Bowl LII, is on injured reserve after collarbone surgery.
The Jets’ Trevor Siemian, filling in for young hopeful Sam Darnold, himself out with mononucleosis, had a gruesome ankle injury against the Browns last month and is out for the year.
Nathan Peterman and Blaine Gabbert are on IR and done for the year. As is onetime hopeful Alex Smith, who is still recovering from a hideous compound fracture of his lower leg he suffered last season.
And then we have Andrew Luck, a potential superstar with the Colts, who abruptly announced his retirement because he is half-ruined from injuries and pain.
Through all this carnage, teams such as the Bears march on, praying they catch greatness in a quarterback before any brief window of opportunity slams shut.
In truth, the Bears have been seeking a great quarterback every year since Sid Luckman called it quits. It’s possible Jim McMahon could have been that dynasty-builder after helping the Bears win Super XX, but he couldn’t stay healthy.
Jay Cutler might have had more talent than anybody else, but the team around him wasn’t very good, and there was just something . . . off . . . about him.
Every team is looking for that young phenom, the lightning bolt the Chiefs might have actually captured with Patrick Mahomes. But the QB trash bucket is full of more duds than a cheap-fireworks factory. Think of the players: Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Paxton Lynch, etc. And, of course, the prince of them all: Johnny Manziel.
Kids such as Luke Falk and Gardner Minshew have been pressed into service this season because of injuries to senior quarterback starters. Will they progress or wilt under the crazy pressure? Big question.
And let us not forget the Browns’ Baker Mayfield, the first pick in the 2018 draft, a cocky guy and savior doing a million clever TV ads, who played pretty well his rookie year (93.7 passer rating) but has tanked this season (68.5).
If you saw him against the 49ers on Monday night (8-for-22 passing, 100 yards, two interceptions, two fumbles, four sacks for 42 yards lost), you could be forgiven for thinking he was a third-stringer ready to be cut.
So here’s the deal, Bears fans.
Come on, Mitch. The end.