In this week’s edition of ‘Take 2′, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly try to deduce what we can take from Matt Barkley’s first start and what it means for the Bears’ quarterback position moving forward.
Fishbain: Patrick, I’m not one to overreact, especially considering that Matt Barkley did his best work against an incredibly conservative Titans defense that he admitted had backed off late in last Sunday’s game, but I also can’t ignore that he made some fantastic throws while getting no help from his receivers. Earlier this season, we figured Brian Hoyer could be re-signed as a “bridge” veteran quarterback, if we are to assume the Bears draft a rookie. Some think Connor Shaw will be in the conversation. Can Barkley assert himself as an option to return to the Bears?
Finley: They’re in no position to rule anybody out. And if Barkley can string together starts that are more similar to his fourth quarter Sunday than his first three, they absolutely must give him a look. Remember his pedigree: he was America’s best high schooler and the first true freshman quarterback to start the season at USC. Had he gone pro after his junior year, he would have been a top 5 pick. Both Hoyer and Shaw, by contrast, went undrafted. You’re right, Kevin, that Barkley was more comfortable in the Bears’ hurry-up. Should Dowell Loggains consider doing that more often, or should they stick with something that they might actually use next year, when the games matter?
Fishbain: As much as Barkley is auditioning for the Bears and 31 other teams, is this also an audition for Dowell Loggains? Does he need to keep producing good game plans by putting a completely undermanned offense in position to win? No member of the organization should feel “safe” when the team is 2-9. One thing about this coaching staff is they won’t tank, and they won’t look at 2017. Fans may not care about the results, but coaches do. However, does it behoove the Bears to keep Barkley on a short leash, use the last month to maybe see what they have in David Fales? Or should they already have a good idea?
Finley: I was screaming this at a nameless colleague (not Kevin, dear readers) when he lobbied for Fales in the third quarter Sunday: the Bears decided, after seeing him every day from July 28 to Sept. 3, that he was, at best, their fourth-string quarterback. Two months away certainly didn’t change their minds. Rather, Fales was signed last week because he was one of the few ambulatory quarterbacks in the world who knew the Bears’ playbook. As for the Bears’ coaching staff, it’s encouraging that players, without being asked, have praised their preparation and game plans. Were I Bears management, though, I’d want one person next year – be it a head coach, coordinator or position coach – with some experience developing a young quarterback into a success. The Bears currently don’t have someone who fits that bill, do they? And won’t that be the key to the whole organization?
Fishbain: When things weren’t going well for the offense early on, I thought maybe the Bears should just audition a different QB each game the rest of the way! But Barkley finished strong. As you said, though, he isn’t the future for this team at the position, and I would love to know what Ryan Pace was thinking watching Marcus Mariota. This team could use a coach who is familiar and comfortable with developing a quarterback. One would think (or, hope), though, that a good enough rookie quarterback won’t need any kind of “guru” to coach him up, or maybe that’s too idealistic, especially considering the questionable upcoming draft class.