As the Bears search for a new quarterback, they’d be wise to not let history repeat itself.
“Let’s hope people can learn from their mistakes,” Kyle Long, the former Bears Pro Bowl offensive lineman turned CBS analyst, said Wednesday. “I remember when [general manager] Ryan Pace and the entire offensive staff went to the Clemson pro day and they didn’t speak to Deshaun Watson. It’s been the bane of their existence ever since.
“I will say, if I’m Deshaun Watson, I want to go somewhere where I feel loved, respected and also where I feel welcome in the locker room and I feel comfortable.”
Whether the Texans give in to Watson’s trade request — he’s frustrated with upper management — is one question. Were they to acquiesce, two larger questions would loom for the Bears. Do they have enough capital to trade for him? And can Pace convince Watson, who has a no-trade clause and has been annoyed with the Bears’ pro day snub since it happened in March 2017, to agree to come to Chicago?
It seems unlikely that all three answers would be positive.
Long’s prediction for the Bears’ next starting quarterback, in fact, doesn’t veer far from Halas Hall. And, no, it’s not Mitch Trubisky.
“I think that they will not be able to get done what they want to get done in the draft at the quarterback position,” Long said of the Bears, who pick 20th. “I think we’re going to see Nick Foles with a full offseason behind him being the starting quarterback. Obviously, I think Mitch goes elsewhere.”
“I’d love to see him potentially in a starting role — perhaps a backup role in San Francisco,” Long said. “I think he’d benefit greatly from a Kyle Shanahan-coached team.”
Shanahan, who is less than a year removed from a Super Bowl loss, has Jimmy Garoppolo under contract. The 49ers could cut the Eastern Illinois and Rolling Meadows High School alum with no financial penalty, but they figure to do so only if they significantly upgrade the position. Trubisky doesn’t qualify, but he could theoretically challenge Garoppolo for the starting job.
Long played four games for the Bears in 2019 before they put him on injured reserve. He said in January 2020 he was done with football and in June resisted the urge to return and play with a different team. Instead, Long spent his Sunday mornings this season as co-host of CBS Sports Network’s “That Other Pregame Show.” During Super Bowl week, the show is airing two hours per day. On Sunday, it kicks off CBS’s game-day coverage at 10:30 a.m.
Asked about how his former team handled its season-ending news conference — in which the Bears vowed to stay the course — Long reiterated the respect he has for chairman George McCaskey. He said McCaskey was in a difficult position, trying to answer questions without ruffling feathers.
“I think when you put the head of the team in front of the media and he’s asked to speak on some of the deficiencies at the coaching position, potentially some of the roster spots, it’s a tough spot to be in,” Long said. “George is all class, all the time, even if that means being neutral on some subjects.
“Now, [coach] Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, clearly in their comments, they understood that they were let off the hook here and they get another shot at it, another crack [at] it here with the Bears.
“I hope they find a way to win. In regard to George McCaskey, that’s a tough spot to be in as the owner of a football team.”