“Mitch is our quarterback.”
Bears fans still scarred by Lovie Smith’s backing of Rex Grossman back in the day might want to brace themselves for a flashback when general manager Ryan Pace holds his season-ending news conference Tuesday at Halas Hall.
The state of the Bears’ belief in Trubisky will be front and center after a year of quarterback regression that helped send the Bears plunging to a disappointing 8-8 season.
Doubling down on Trubisky is the most likely outcome, considering he is the make-or-break centerpiece of Pace’s rebuilding plan since being hired in 2015. It still seems too early to admit defeat, especially with so many extenuating circumstances — the lack of a running game, the dearth of NFL-caliber tight ends, the offensive line’s drop-off, even the coaching — to dilute Trubisky’s culpability in the down year.
Two key questions will indicate where Pace stands on Trubisky: Will he pick up the fifth-year option on Trubisky’s rookie contract? And will he bring in a veteran quarterback to challenge Trubisky for the starting job in training camp?
It wouldn’t be a surprise if he answered both of those questions in the affirmative. Pace loves his guy, but he also sees the same game we do.
The fifth year of the deal is not guaranteed, except for injury, so the only way Trubisky gets the fifth year is by earning it in the fourth. Next season could be make-or-break on several levels at Halas Hall.
Trubisky’s future figures to dominate the news conference, but there are so many other issues to address after such a disappointing season with nary a word from the GM. Here are a few of the other key points that will be discussed:
Does coach Matt Nagy need to give up play-calling responsibilities?
As effective as Nagy has been as a culture-building coach, his game-planning and play-calling seem to have suffered in 2019. He’s unlikely to give that up, as developing the offense was the reason he was hired. But Pace might have other ideas.
How will the Bears rebuild the tight-end position? What is Trey Burton’s status for 2020?
Burton’s rehab from the groin injury that kept him out of the wild-card game last season was problematic from the start, and he was ineffective until he was shut down in Week 11. Do the Bears even know what his injury is? No doubt the Bears need a more reliable “move” tight end for Nagy’s offense in 2020. Or two or three.
How can the offensive line be upgraded with virtually every starter in place for 2020?
The line was a major disappointment, but with tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie on long-term contracts, it’s likely all five starters (including right guard Rashaad Coward, who replaced injured starter Kyle Long) will return.
Unless Pace has a better idea.
Will Pace pay linebacker Leonard Floyd $13 million next season after a career-low three sacks in 2019?
Bears coaches insist Floyd’s value goes far beyond his meager sack totals. But after Khalil Mack had a subpar season (8.5 sacks), the Bears might need a better pure pass rusher on the other side to make opponents pay a higher price for double-teaming Mack.
Danny Trevathan or Nick Kwiatkoski?
An interesting scenario for Pace. Trevathan is a free agent who had an outstanding season but will be coming off a season-ending elbow injury, and he turns 30 in March.
Kwiatkoski likely played himself into a starter’s contract in free agency and — healthier and younger at 27 — might end up being more difficult to sign.
Time to give up on Adam Shaheen?
Injuries have impacted Shaheen’s career since he was drafted 45th overall in 2017. But he never has looked like the mismatch big-play tight end the Bears thought they were getting.