Bears Insider Hub Arkush answers subscribers' Bears/NFL/Life questions in every newsletter:
Are there any under the radar improvements Bears should make? Anything besides OL, TE, QB, based on lesser needs and potentially available improvements via FA or the draft? Submitted by Danny
Danny, the Bears aren’t in salary cap hell, but they are limited enough in their cap space that they have to use what resources they have to address the big needs – tight end, left tackle, QB competition, safety and inside linebacker.
The same obviously goes for their limited draft capital.
But if they had the means, beyond the spots everybody is talking about, they really need to address depth at running back and in the pass rush.
The rush will be better in ’20 if Akiem Hicks stays healthy — not only for what he brings in pressure but because teams will need to give extra attention to him, limiting what they can do to scheme Khalil Mack, Eddie Goldman and Roy Robertson-Harris.
It is also hard to quit on the potential of Leonard Floyd to be a double-digit sack guy, even if it feels like it’s time to give up that ghost.
That said, former undrafted free agents like Shaq Barrett and Mario Addison, or big-time pass rushers like Za’Darius Smith and Maxx Crosby, found in the fourth round, and Danielle Hunter — who was drafted in the third round — are not as rare as you may think.
More pass rush could make Chuck Pagano’s defense every bit as dominant as Vic Fangio’s was.
I am more positive than negative on the possibilities of David Montgomery having a Pro Bowl season or two, but that’s not enough in today’s NFL.
Derrick Henry is an outlier right now in Tennessee. What the top ground games in the league today in Baltimore, San Francisco, and other spots have in common are multiple backs that can hurt you. Ingram and Edwards in Baltimore, Coleman, Mostert, and Breida in San Francisco, Kamara and Murray in New Orleans and even Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams in Green Bay.
Philadelphia – with Doug Pederson running the same offense as Matt Nagy — was heading there, too, with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders until Howard got hurt, and even the Chiefs, who haven’t run the ball well this year, still try and do it with multiple backs.
When Tarik Cohen is used properly and effectively, I love him but he is a third-down, change-of-pace running back and a real threat at receiver. He is not a No. 2 running back you can feed a dozen or more times if he gets hot.
The Bears need more at those two positions, and you can also never have enough cornerbacks.
This feels a little like the $1 bet in "Trading Places," where the question is whether breeding or environment determines a person's future... If either Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson were drafted by the Bears, would they be nearly as good right now? And if Trubisky were in KC? Submitted by Lance Rutter
Lance, it’s a fascinating question which, like you, I can only guess at, but I can try and lend some context.
Mahomes almost certainly wouldn’t be as good as he is right now anywhere but Kansas City because he wouldn’t have Hill, Kelce, Watkins, Hardman, Robinson, etc. As NFL weapons caches go, the Chiefs are closer to nuclear than any club in the league.
That’s not a rap on Mahomes, or an attempt to diminish his accomplishments in any way, it’s just a fact.
My guess is Mahomes would be very good here in Chicago, especially since Andy Reid continues to credit Matt Nagy in significant part with his development even though he didn’t hit the field until the year after Nagy left. But limited to Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller at times as the only targets he could really trust at the level of his top four targets in K.C., Mahomes wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Believe it or not, outside of Chicago, Watson isn’t nearly as revered as he is by Bears fans.
That he is way ahead of Trubisky in his development is an indisputable fact, but there are really smart football people I respect who tell me his indecision and insistence on holding on to the football too long, and the number of options he fails to recognize going through his progressions are still major concerns and potentially limiting factors as to just how good he’s going to be.
I think Watson would be better with the Bears than he’s been in Houston, because the system fits him better here, and while DeAndre Hopkins with Will Fuller and Kenny Stills — when those two are available — gives Houston a better arsenal, they are unavailable so often Watson’s targets here wouldn’t be as big a fall-off as they would be coming here from Kansas City.
Would Mitch be better in Kansas City or Houston? Every quarterback in the league with the possible exception of Russell Wilson – his game is more about what he makes happen with or without solid targets more than any other QB in the game – would be better in Kansas City today than he is where he’s at.
Again, that’s not a slap or shade thrown at Mahomes in any way, it’s just reality.
Would Mitch be Mahomes? I’m not saying yet he can never be, but off what we’ve seen these first three seasons he certainly wouldn’t be yet, and while he has shown occasional flashes there are no consistent patterns we’ve seen yet to argue Mitch would be markedly better in Kansas City than he has been in Chicago.
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And I don’t see how Mitch would have been any better in Houston with bigger problems on the offensive line there than the Bears have had, and an inconsistent ground game as well over the past three seasons.
So that you don’t think I’m avoiding the meat of your question, or what I’m guessing may be the meat – there is no question Andy Reid is a better coach than Matt Nagy and Bill O’Brien, but there is no clear evidence yet that Eric Bienemy, Mike Kafka, Bill O’Brien or Carl Smith — who mentored Wilson through the first six years of his career in Seattle before going to Houston — are better coaches than Nagy and Dave Ragone.
% chance Mitch starts next year? Submitted by Bill Thickstun
Do you think the bears should target a QB in the draft? Submitted by Willard
What’s the percent chance Mitch will be the quarterback in the season opener? Submitted by Alyse
Alyse, Willard and Bill, I’d say it’s 80-90 percent that Trubisky will be the Bears starting quarterback on opening day of the 2020 season, and if his ability to keep the job throughout the year is to have lower odds than that, it really depends on who they bring in to back him up/compete with him.
Unless Nagy has a complete 180 on his feeling on starters playing in exhibition games, it's hard to imagine what Trubisky could do – or not do – over the summer to lose the starting job. The potential for injury is the main reason I’m not going for 95-100 percent.
It is critical that the Bears draft a young quarterback to develop, but the odds that that second or third day pick is going to command playing time over Trubisky as a rookie are slim and none.
The need to start selecting and developing young talent at quarterback, I believe, is critical for the Bears and every organization in the league regardless of who their starters are. Look at how teams like the Patriots and Packers have done that repeatedly in the past and not only always had options ready just in case, but turned those players into equal or more valuable draft capital when they didn’t need them on the field.
And find me two more successful organizations over the past two decades than those two.
If No. 2 is, say, Case Keenum or even more promising, Alex Smith – if Smith is able to return to the field at all which remains a huge unknown at this time – the odds go up exponentially that one could step in for Trubisky somewhere in the Weeks 4-6 range if the defense is humming again but the offense is still struggling.
I would think one of the failed younger veterans like Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles or Jameis Winston would have a longer wait to get a chance, as based on their bodies of work, the hope that one of them would be better would be more rolling the dice than anything they’ve accomplished to date.
I get Winston’s impressive production in the passing game, but there is no way a winning team can live with a quarterback that turns the ball over like that and still remain a winning team.
Any update on compensatory pick for Amos (any chance they screwed up the Davis thing)? Do you think they keep Nick K over Trevathan? Do you think HaHa comes back? Submitted by B. C.
All of this year’s compensatory draft picks will be announced at the same time — shortly after the Super Bowl and well in advance of the Combine, which is a few days earlier this year.
It seems fairly sure, though, that the Bears will get a fourth-round pick for Amos, and it will come at the end of the round, not necessarily last but all the compensatory picks in the fourth round will be at the back.
I’m not sure what you mean by "any chance they screwed up the Davis thing." I told you the day they signed Davis it was a mistake, so if that’s what you’re asking, there’s no chance they didn’t screw that up.
Ideally, they’d like to keep both Kwiatkoski and Trevathan, but that seems unlikely with their multiple needs and current salary cap status.
My guess is they will attempt to sign one of the two and Kevin Pierre-Louis, who is obviously very good insurance. But the choice is neither clear nor easy and could be complicated by another team overpaying Kwiatkoski. I’m convinced the Packers will take a hard run at Kwiatkosiki if he gets to free agency, as he’s too perfect a fit in Green Bay.
Younger, more durable and better in coverage than we thought — although not as good as Trevathan — Kwiatkoski would seem to be a better choice.
But Trevathan is definitely the better athlete, gives you a lot more speed, is not ancient at 30, will probably command a shorter, less expensive deal and is one of the most important leaders in the locker room.
Which player the Bears focus on is the $64,000 question right now.
I can’t see a return for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, which is unfortunate because he did play well for the Bears, becoming more and more physical as the season went on, and he did give them pretty much everything they asked for.
The problem is he and Eddie Jackson are the same style safeties, Jackson is clearly the better “center fielder” at this stage of their careers and the team’s commitment to him couldn’t be more obvious right now. And even though the days of clearly defined strong and free safeties are in the past, the Bears need more of an in-the-box style of safety to pair with Jackson.
Ironically the best fit for Clinton-Dix right now could be Green Bay again. The Packers have two potentially sound in-the-box guys in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage who also aren’t an ideal fit to start together, but either would look that much better next to a top ball-hawking safety like Clinton-Dix.
It probably won’t happen because the Packers overpaid for Amos, but it’s unclear what Clinton-Dix will command on the open market after his year with the Bears.
Even if he’s not that expensive, and he was a solid contributor and very solid in the locker room, he’s just not a great fit on the field with Jackson.
This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.