So it’s been a rough couple months for Bears management, and Friday we’ll – the media – get our first chance to visit with general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy since the beginning of the new league year and free agency.
I’m guessing we’ve all got at least three or four burning questions, and here are mine:
1. After giving up a fourth-round draft choice for him and guaranteeing him $17 million last year, the Bears told Nick Foles he could compete with Mitch Trubisky for the starting quarterback job. What could they possibly have been thinking this year making Andy Dalton the starter without even stepping on the field in Chicago yet?
Foles is the more accomplished performer.
In his one Pro Bowl season (2013), he was easily the top-rated quarterback in the league at 119.9 with 27 touchdowns against two interceptions. And, of course, he also was a well-deserved Super Bowl MVP in 2017, contributing to his 4-1 record in the playoffs.
In two of Dalton’s Pro Bowl-alternate seasons, his stats and production actually were well below average, and in the third, he was just about average.
Dalton did have one very good season (2015) as a starter in which he, ironically, was not selected for the Pro Bowl, but it didn’t approach Foles’ 2013 success, and, of course, he is somewhat famously 0-4 in the playoffs.
Dalton is 15 months older than Foles, and at his best over 10 seasons in the league, he has been a capable game manager.
Foles has been up and down like a yo-yo from season to season, but when in rhythm he has been a quarterback who manufactured wins as much as he avoided losses.
But none of that is really the point.
What possible reason could Pace and Nagy have for not making Dalton compete for the job? What message does it send to every other player on the team? And worst, who thought it was a good idea to feature the announcement on the team website as if anything about it was good?
2. So what offense are the Bears planning to run this year?
The Bears’ offense went from one of the worst in the league over the first 10 games last season to it’s second-highest scoring over the last six games after reinserting Trubisky at quarterback and Nagy handing over play-calling to Bill Lazor.
The big changes were to an outside zone running game and leveraging at least a little of Trubisky’s athleticism and running ability.
It did not resemble the offense Nagy hoped to run and was brought here to build.
There is nothing to suggest Dalton will succeed in the same zip code as Patrick Mahomes has in Kansas City, or Foles did in Philadelphia in that offense, so what will it be?
3. Assuming multiple reports from quality journalists were true, what were Pace and Nagy thinking encouraging Akiem Hicks to find himself a trade?
The Bears’ salary cap issues were well-documented and cost them one of the best cornerbacks (Kyle Fuller) in the NFL, but if Hicks can stay healthy and Robert Quinn becomes Robert Quinn again, they still have the talent to be the No. 1 defense in the league.
I know, new inexperienced coaching staff, no Fuller, who knows where Eddie Jackson will be, etc.
I didn’t say they will be a great defense, I said they can be.
But without Hicks, there would be a massive hole in the front wall, with no clue as to how they’d plan to stop the run and a ton less hope.
Great defensive fronts can make OK talent at cornerback look good. Great corners cannot fix a porous defensive line.
What were they thinking?
4. Why just release Fuller?
Cap casualties are real, and teams lose great players they don’t want to. It’s part of the game.
But considering Fuller signed a one-year deal on the open market for within $1 million of what was left on his contract, you mean to tell me, knowing the premium on top corners around the league, they couldn’t get somebody to give them a fourth- or fifth-round pick for him, if not a second- or third-rounder?
Can’t wait to hear what they have to say.