It’s nice that the Bears have a plan, but it’s a miracle they need.
You might consider it overstatement to tie their pursuit of a quarterback to divine intervention, but if they were able to land Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson in a trade, most Bears fans would fall to their knees and aim a loud “thank you’’ heavenward. That would go for the atheist Bears fan, too. Is the term “atheist Bears fan” redundant?
Anyway, general manager Ryan Pace says the team has a plan for any scenario this offseason, which would be comforting if it weren’t for the fact that NFL people plan everything meticulously, down to their 10 a.m. yawn and their 2:30 p.m. bathroom break (three minutes, unless there’s the most recent issue of “Special Teams Digest” in the stall; then it’s five). Everybody has a plan in football.
It means that the Bears have a strategy if the Texans decide they have to give in to Watson’s trade demands. And it means that the Bears have a strategy if the Seahawks believe that Wilson’s heart is somewhere else — perhaps Chicago, one of the four landing spots his agent said would be acceptable to the quarterback.
You, the optimistic Bears fan, might be looking at both situations and wondering why the miraculous would be necessary to land either star. Watson already has one foot out the door, and Wilson is dipping a toe in trade waters, if you’ll forgive the mixed leg metaphors.
I could start with the easiest answer — because these are the Bears — but I’m trying to be better than that during Lent.
Both possibilities are huge long shots, and a more likely scenario is that they end up with Alex Smith, who actually is a miracle. But we’ll get to him and the depths of your despair in a moment.
Let’s start with Wilson, the more recent subject of hope for the Bears. He and his agent have gone public with his dissatisfaction with the Seahawks. He has been sacked at least 41 times in each of the past eight seasons. He’s tired of being chased, and he’s tired of a defense-oriented coach who asks him to pull out close games in the waning moments.
Why would he want to come to a Bears team that A) finished 26th out of 32 teams in total offense last season B) has a mediocre offensive line and C) has a coach (Matt Nagy) and general manager whose job statuses are shaky, at best? It would take some craziness on Wilson’s part to look at the Bears as a better situation than New Orleans, also on his list of preferred destinations. But crazy and miraculous are cousins, so you never know. “You never know’’ is pretty much what anyone associated with the Bears is clutching to these days.
That brings us to Watson. The Bears would not be competing against four teams for Watson’s services, as they would with Wilson. They’d be competing with more than 15 teams that believe Watson is the answer to their dreams. It’s hard to see how the Bears, with the 20th overall pick in the draft, would have a better trade package than other teams with which to entice the Texans to part with Watson.
And, as mentioned here a few weeks ago, Watson surely hasn’t forgotten that Pace failed to wine and dine him (or interview him at length) leading up to the 2017 draft. Why would he want to come play for Pace and the Bears now? I don’t recall there being a statute of limitations on feeling disrespected. He has a no-trade clause, meaning he has to approve any deal Houston makes.
So, yes, a miracle, please.
Smith, whom the Washington Football Team is expected to release soon, is a walking wonder. He almost lost his leg after a ghastly injury in 2018 that eventually led to 17 surgeries. Oh, and somewhere in there, he developed a life-threatening infection. But he fought his way back to the field, where he started six games for Washington in 2020 and won the Comeback Player of the Year award.
But he’s not the kind of miracle the Bears need. He’ll be 37 when the season starts, and his best years appear to be behind him. His passer rating last season was a weak 78.5. He’d be better suited as a mentor to a young quarterback, the way he was to Patrick Mahomes when Nagy was the offensive coordinator with the Chiefs in 2017. The Bears don’t appear to be in position to land one of the top college quarterbacks this year.
They need a quality starter now. They need a willing trade partner. They need the Texans or the Seahawks to decide that giving up on a superstar quarterback is somehow the only option. Or they need a much lesser miracle, like the Jets using the second overall draft pick on a quarterback and trading 23-year-old Sam Darnold, whose Trubisky-esque performances in his first three seasons could be chalked up to playing for a horrible franchise.
Matt Ryan? Derek Carr? Somebody. Something,
There are hopes, there are dreams and there are Hail Marys. If you aren’t praying yet, Bears fans, start.