1st-and-10: Bills missed on Patrick Mahomes, too — with a far better outcome
With too many holes to fill in 2017, the Bills passed on Mahomes and traded the No. 10 pick to the Chiefs — eventually getting Josh Allen and other starters who made them Super Bowl contenders. That’s a tack the Bears might follow with a likely top-5 pick in 2023.
The Bears and Bills are at opposite ends of the NFL spectrum today, but they share one tale of ignominy: They both missed on Patrick Mahomes.
The Bills, in fact, might have committed the more egregious error — not only passing on Mahomes with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2017 draft (with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback), but trading the pick to the Chiefs so they could draft Mahomes.
In effect, they handed a major AFC rival the lethal weapon it needed to turn a playoff team into a juggernaut. And the Bills have paid the price — losing to Mahomes and the Chiefs in the playoffs the previous two seasons.
The Mahomes miss has haunted the Bears for years, but it’s just a draft-history footnote in Buffalo. Because while the Bears swung and missed when they traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 to take Mitch Trubisky in 2017, the Bills had a plan — and therein lies a possible template for the Bears to follow with a likely top-five pick in the 2023 draft.
With an eye on the 2018 quarterback class — and knowing they had a lot more holes to fill than just at quarterback — the Bills traded the No. 10 pick in 2017 to the Chiefs for No. 27 overall (they took cornerback Tre’Davious White) and a 2018 first-round pick.
With new general manager Brandon Beane and coach Doug McDermott running the draft, the Bills parlayed the first-round pick from the Chiefs (No. 22 overall) and their own first-round pick (No. 21) into the No. 7 and No. 16 picks in the 2018 draft. And they turned it into a bonanza — drafting quarterback Josh Allen at No. 7 and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16.
(The Bills deftly maneuvered to turn No. 21 into No. 7 — first trading No. 21 and Cordy Glenn to the Bengals for No. 12, then trading No. 12 and lower picks to the Buccaneers for No. 7.)
So while missing on Mahomes, the Bills used the No. 10 overall pick as the catalyst for trades that eventually netted them Allen (one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL today), Edmunds (a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker), White (a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback), guard Dion Dawkins (a six-year starter who made the Pro Bowl last season) and wide receiver Zay Jones.
The Bills’ story could come into play for Bears first-year general manager Ryan Poles in the 2023 draft. The Bears currently have the No. 2 overall pick and likely will fall no lower than No. 5. With many holes to fill, Poles’ best move likely will be to take advantage of another team’s desperation for a quarterback and trade that top-five pick for another high pick in 2023 and a 2024 first-rounder — that could turn into . . . Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.? Hmm . . .
At this point, that’s a dream scenario. But regardless of how you manage the draft, you still have to be astute in evaluation and get the right players. But Poles has one advantage — he has the quarterback already in place.
2. Justin Fields has not been prolific as a passer this season — he’s averaging a league-low 157.5 yards. But his improved accuracy and efficiency are not to be ignored.
Despite being sacked six times in 32 drop-backs, Fields completed 14 of 21 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 119.5 passer rating against an Eagles defense that came into the game leading the NFL in passer rating against (76.3 — 16 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions).
Fields’ rating, in fact, was the highest allowed by the Eagles this season. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill’s 97.0 was the previous best.
3. Fields’ 119.5 passer rating also is the highest for a quarterback who was sacked six times since Allen had a 138.5 rating despite being sacked seven times by the Seahawks in 2020.
Fields seems to be handling adversity better recently. In two previous games this season when he was sacked five or more times, Fields had a 51.2 passer rating — 19-for-39 (48.7%) for 280 yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions against the Texans (five sacks) and Giants (six sacks).
4. The Bears are the only NFL team Allen has not faced. He was out with an elbow injury when the Bears played the Bills in 2018. Current Bears backup Nathan Peterman started and threw three interceptions in a 41-9 Bears rout.
Allen returned two weeks later and has started the Bills’ last 75 games.
There’s something to be said for quarterback durability. Three of the current top four seeds in the playoffs have notably durable quarterbacks: the Chiefs’ Mahomes (88 of 90 starts), the Bills’ Allen (75 consecutive starts) and the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins (117 of 118 starts). And the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts has made 34 of 36 starts before suffering an injury against the Bears last week.
5. Though he has a ton to prove in the passing game, Fields’ progress has been encouraging. But a little advice: Don’t dismiss the skeptics. In a league in which only one team wins the championship, only a handful aren’t disappointed with their season and half the league is either firing their coach or a year away from firing their coach, the skeptics have a much higher batting average than the believers.
6. Wide receivers matter: It’s tough to argue with Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson giving himself an A for his performance against A.J. Brown, as he did during his weekly appearance on the “Parkins & Spiegel Show” on The Score. Johnson’s three pass breakups are the most in one game against Brown this season.
And yet, Brown still finished with nine receptions for 182 yards in the Eagles’ 25-20 victory. It’s not a coincidence that Hurts’ passer rating was 87.2 without Brown last year and is 104.6 with Brown this season.
7. This week’s First-and-10 web poll question: If the Bears and Eagles switched receiving corps, which team wins the game?
That’s actually debatable — the Bears lost by five and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter as it was. But just that it’s debatable given the disparity in the two rosters seems to support the notion that even though the Bears have a lot of holes to fill, a pair of weapons the quality of Brown and DeVonta Smith can fill — or at least cover up — quite a few of them.
8. A tip of the cap to former Bears quarterback Bobby Douglass, whose franchise rushing record was broken by Fields on Sunday. The 6-4, 225-pound left-hander, a second-round pick from Kansas in 1969, set the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in 1972, when he rushed for 968 yards and eight touchdowns on 141 carries (an NFL-best 6.9 yards per carry).
Douglass, one of two quarterbacks to hand off to Gale Sayers and Walter Payton (Virgil Carter was the other), was a bull in a china shop as a passer — he completed 42% of his passes in six-plus seasons with the Bears.
But his running productivity was unique. Not only did he obliterate the previous NFL record of 530 rushing yards that Lions quarterback Greg Landry set in 1971, but Douglass’ record lasted 33 seasons until Michael Vick rushed for 1,039 yards in 2006. Not bad.
9. Josh McCown Ex-Bear of the Week: Saints quarterback Andy Dalton completed 11 of 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 132.2 passer rating in a 21-18 victory against the Falcons.
10. Bear-ometer: 4-13 — vs. Bills (L); at Lions (L); vs. Vikings (W).