Just another week in the life of a general manager with quarterback issues for Ryan Pace. Patrick Mahomes vs. Deshaun Watson on national television. And Tom-Brady-was-almost-a-Bear trending.
Paying for your mistakes is part of the business, but the football gods seem to be exacting a particularly torturous price from Pace for trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky second overall in the 2017 draft. Not a week seems to go by without a reminder that he took the wrong guy.
Last year it was Mahomes taunting the Bears by counting 10 fingers (he was picked 10th overall, get it?) after throwing a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in a victory at Soldier Field. Then it was Mahomes vs. Watson in the playoffs. Then Jimmy Garoppolo, an Eastern Illinois guy who could have been had for the right price, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Even when Pace acknowledged reality and brought in a quarterback to challenge Trubisky for the starting job, he set himself up for another round of second-guessing. The logic of trading for Nick Foles was sound — Foles is familiar with Nagy’s offensive system and has Super Bowl MVP credentials. But again, the alternatives were bigger names and better quarterbacks: Cam Newton, Philip Rivers. Maybe even Brady.
Pace is unflappable, but anyone else in his position would shudder at what could happen after Newton signed with the Patriots (one year, $1.75 million) and Rivers signed with the Colts (one year, $25 million).
Newton at the helm of a well-oiled Patriots offense has the potential for success that could leave Bears fans wondering why Pace signed Foles for
$21 million when he could have had Newton for a song.
Rivers could be a missing piece on a Colts team that was a quarterback away from taking the next step last season after Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement. A Rivers-led Colts resurgence not only would fuel angst over Pace’s decision to ignore Rivers, but also re-focus the spotlight on the impressive job by Colts GM Chris Ballard — the former Bears scouting director whom the team passed over to hire Pace. A double-whammy.
All is not lost … yet. Trubisky still has a chance to quash Newton-Rivers-Brady talk and mitigate the Mahomes-Watson damage by taking the step he was supposed to take in 2019 after making the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2018. After last season, the new-and-improved Trubisky — calloused by the journey, motivated by the competition with Foles and buoyed by the culture at Halas Hall — sounds dubious. There’s more skepticism than anticipation as the 2020 season opener beckons. But not from his vantage point.
“I’m super-excited,” Trubisky said when asked about his emotions heading into this season. “With everything going on, we’re excited to kick off the season and just proud of the way our team has handled everything on and off the field, and how we continue to come closer and overcome obstacles so we’re able to kick off the season the right way.”
Though we don’t really know Trubisky, he seems like an easy guy to root for. His teammates and coaches believe in him. He deserves success. What a story it would be if Trubisky became the quarterback he was expected to be.
Just don’t tease us, Mitch. The time has come for Trubisky to succeed or fail.