PFW's Hub Arkush answers subscribers' Bears/NFL/Life questions in every subscriber newsletter.
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Who will have a better season, Mitch or Mahomes? Submitted by Kevin Kane
Kevin, in the 99-year history of the National Football League, only two other players — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — have ever done what Mahomes did last year in throwing for at least 50 TDs and 5,000 yards, and each of them only did it once.
Mahomes will almost certainly take a step back this season, and it could be a big step if he has to play for any length of time without Tyreek Hill, which certainly seems likely.
So the big question is how much will Trubisky improve, and though I believe he will take a significant step forward, the gap was huge last year, so he may have to try the running broad jump as opposed to just a big step.
As overall quarterbacks, the gap between Mahomes and Trubisky isn’t as big as it was last season. But based on what we’ve seen from each on the field so far, there’s no way you can predict Trubisky will be better than Mahomes this year.
Or I guess you could, but you’d almost certainly end up looking foolish if you did.
Was Jeff Pearlman’s Payton biography accurate? Submitted by Keller
I’m sorry, Keller, but though I did speak to Jeff when he was writing the book, I’ve never seen it and haven’t had a chance to read it, so I can’t really say. Sorry about that.
Was it a good way for the Bears to lose the playoff game, rather than Mitch taking heat? Send the kicker packing who choked, team seems closer now, Mitch played better than avg in that playoff game but if we don't get across 50 and run out if time.. Mitch takes heat and blame. Submitted by Sportsbook Insider
There is no good way to lose a playoff game, and it hurts just as much no matter how it happens, but it is certainly promising that Mitch did what he had to to win. In fact, he played his best football as a pro — and that does bode well for the future. So I guess I’d have to say yes, it’s better it ended the way it did.
Have you given any thought to not pronouncing Tarik Cohen’s last name as CONE this upcoming season?
Nope, not even a second’s worth.
Where do you see the TE room this coming year? Submitted by Eric
Eric, I believe this is the biggest single question mark the Bears have entering the 2019 season. Trey Burton is one of the best "move" tight ends in the NFL and should be even more productive this season than last with the Bears talent at wideout much improved and commanding more coverage. But while willing, Burton is not a great run blocker, and that will impact the Bears' ability to run the football from "12 personnel."
Ben Braunecker is a No. 3 at best, and though the move of Bradley Sowell from tackle to tight end is probably in large part to use him some in "12 personnel" with Adam Shaheen, while that will strengthen the Bears run options, it could limit their passing options.
Dax Raymond is an exciting undrafted rookie fee agent, but he's still a undrafted rookie free agent you can’t count on until he gets it done on the field.
All of which brings us to Adam Shaheen. Most importantly, Shaheen has to prove he can stay healthy and on the field, and then while his blocking has improved beyond where I might have expected it to be, he has not shown yet he can be a quality NFL pass-catching tight end.
As Shaheen goes, so, too, will the position, and if he doesn’t take a meaningful step forward, it could be an issue all season long.
Is it too late for this? My big question going into training camp is how the 2nd DE starting position will play out? Is it an open competition between Bullard, RRH, and Nichols? Does one of them have the job to lose? Submitted by Aaron Aye
It is an open competition going into training camp, but it is also Nichols' job to lose on Day 1. Roy Robertson-Harris is going to be a really important contributor to this team but can also line up on the nose or inside in "40" fronts in the sub packages, and I think they’ll even experiment with him occasionally at his old college position, standing up at outside backer in "30" fronts, so he will get plenty of snaps even if he’s not a starter.
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The wild card is Bullard, who, like Robertson-Harris, is in a contract year and is going to have to make some plays in the exhibition season if he is going to claim regular reps in a rotation with Nichols.
They like Nick Williams, but not as much as these other three.
What philosophical differences (if any) will we see on the defense under Chuck Pagano? Submitted by Jose Guzman
For the most part, Jose, none. Though both Pagano and Fangio are longtime NFL coaches, each got a lot of their primary 3-4 training under Rex Ryan in Baltimore and were together on that staff when Rex left to take the Jets job. They are very similar.
If there is any small difference, while both are “pressure defense” coaches, Pagano may like to blitz a little bit more with man coverage behind the blitzes, whereas Fangio preferred to move people around and run some games/stunts with rotating zone coverages on the back end.
But for the most part, the differences will only be obvious to the aficionados, and the Bears “D” will look very, very similar under Pagano to what we saw with Fangio.
Hub, I'm a proponent of players to make as much money as they can, but I feel it just hurts the fans. The cost of paying players generational wealth now makes a family of 5 to go to a bear game like the cost of a mini vacation than going to the movies. When is enough enough ? Submitted by Tony Guzman
Tony, I understand your point and your pain, but NFL players are the lowest paid of the four major professional sports.
Now, they only get eight home games, as compared to 41, 41 and 81 for the NBA, NHL and MLB, respectively, so ticket prices may be higher, but player salaries aren’t what’s driving that.
Under the previous CBA, players were getting approximately 51-52 percent of total football revenue, and under the current deal they are getting about 47 percent. So salary increases aren’t what’s driving ticket prices. That would be the owners’ greed, and their concerns about liability as more and more players are reporting disabilities and seeking compensation because of head injuries and CTE.
It would be nice to see ticket price growth slow — the cost isn’t coming down — but that has to be on the owners a lot more than the players.
What did think of the DJ Moore story he put out on Twitter on Cutler? Submitted by Adam Morley
I thought D.J.’s story was unfortunate, somewhat sad and that it said a lot more about Lovie Smith than Jay Cutler. But you also have to remember there are two sides to every story.
Moore’s claim is he might still be playing today if it weren't for what happened with the Cutler, JaMarcus Webb, Lovie Smith story. That is a little hard to buy when you realize he played just one more season with the Panthers, and in only two games in that season after he was released by the Bears.
The other 30 teams couldn’t have cared less about what happened with him, Jay and Lovie, but they obvious felt he couldn’t play at that level, so it makes his claims awfully specious.
That said, I thought what Cutler did with Webb was ridiculous and Jay should have been ashamed, and the allegations of Lovie’s behavior don’t surprise me.
But I doubt it had much of anything to do with ending Moore’s career.
How many people have been jumping into your DMs since you basically invited all of twitter to do so on your PFW Chicago podcast? Submitted by Iowa Bear
Actually I just checked and the answer is not a single one. Arthur tells me the problem might be that I have to be following folks for them to DM me, and if I don’t know who’s trying, I don’t know who to follow.
As long as it’s with legit conversation, you can e-mail me at Harkush@ProFootballWeekly.com .
— Hub Arkush