Do you ever get the feeling that public pressure has dragged the Bears, kicking and screaming, into looking for a quarterback to “push” Mitch Trubisky in 2020? That, left to their own devices, they’d not only stick with the status quo, they’d take regular naps with it? I get that feeling about 10 times a day.
And that word — push. It’s so non-confrontational. It doesn’t want to step on Mitch’s toes. It says: “Your job is secure, dear one. We simply want to help you discover the best version of yourself.’’
I thought of this Wednesday, when rumors began to circulate in earnest that the 49ers, who lost to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, are interested in signing Tom Brady. They already have a quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, a Rolling Meadows High School product who was good enough to help San Francisco get to the title game. But that apparently hasn’t stopped general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan from thinking about how to get better. Brady, the Patriots legend, will be a free agent in a few weeks.
Tom E. Curran, an NBC Sports Boston reporter, says the 49ers are “closing hard on the outside’’ on Brady and that there is serious interest from the quarterback’s camp.
The Bears’ salary-cap limitations wouldn’t allow them to offer Brady the $30 million-plus a year he’ll command. They’d have to cut or trade some bigger-name players to make room. But that’s not what this is about. Nor is it about whether the Bears have a good enough offensive line to make Brady even consider coming to Chicago and risking life and limb.
It’s about the hard-to-shake idea that the Bears don’t really believe they have an issue at quarterback.
Great organizations are willing to look critically at themselves. If the rumors are true, it means the 49ers think that the one person separating them from a Super Bowl is Garoppolo, who struggled in the big game last month. That would be as brutally self-critical as it gets. Remember, they gave up a second-round pick to acquire him from the Patriots in 2017. And, remember, the 49ers went 13-3 last season with Garoppolo, who threw for almost 4,000 yards, had a 102.0 passer rating and tied for fourth in the NFL in completion percentage at 69.1.
Trubisky threw for 3,138 yards, had an 83.0 passer rating and completed 63.2 percent of his passes last season.
Do you believe that the Bears would be interested in Brady if they had the cap space? I don’t. Where the 49ers seem to see Brady as the final piece to go along with a nasty defense, the guess here is that the Bears would look at the money and his age (42) and squirm. They have a similarly nasty defense, one that’s Super Bowl-worthy, but an offense that isn’t good enough.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has acknowledged that Trubisky needs to improve, but every time he says that, he’s quick to point out that everyone around the quarterback needs to get better. That’s GM-speak for “No, really, Mitch is our quarterback.’’
It’s possible that the Bears will surprise everyone and make a run at Brady when free agency begins March 18. It’s also possible that there’s a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in my future.
The most likely scenario is that the Bears will sign a quarterback who won’t be much better than Trubisky, a “competition’’ will break out in training camp and a winner named Mitch will prevail. Another scenario is that the Bears will trade for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who will be an upgrade but not enough of one to make them a Super Bowl contender.
Until something fundamentally changes in how the Bears think and operate, the smart money is on their sticking with Trubisky as the starter. A lot of this depends on how much pressure Bears chairman George McCaskey has put on Pace and coach Matt Nagy to get the quarterback position right. If he has demanded an upgrade, then there will be change. If he has left it up to them to solve it, which is a good bet, then don’t be surprised if they continue to bet their jobs on Trubisky. Very little that Pace has said would suggest he has given up on the player he took with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft.
I’d love to say I’m trying the whole reverse-psychology thing here, hoping it will spur the Bears into action. Never in a million years would they bring in Brady to take Trubisky’s job! The truth is that they never would. The truth really does hurt.