Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...


Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...

Thoughts that occur watching conference championship games

If the Ravens put their franchise tag (not the exclusive-rights one) on Joe Flacco, would you consider giving up the No. 1s for him and cutting your losses with Jay Cutler?

The Bears gave up two No. 1s for Cutler, whod never been to the playoffs, so what do you trade for a quarterback who beat Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in this postseason alone and has never not been in the playoffs?

MORE: Ravens, Niners headed to the Super Bowl

GM Phil Emery wont make that deal; hes already without a third-round pick because of the Brandon Marshall trade. And the Ravens know what theyve got with Flacco.

But neither Emery nor Marc Trestman have skin the Jay Cutler game. So

Overrating weapons

Matt Ryan did not get any further with Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White than Jay Cutler did with Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. When you are guilty of an interception and unforced fumble within 20 minutes of a Super Bowl, its not about weapons; its about the plays you make or dont make when it matters

Dont forget Matt Forte in 2013

Three of the final four teams ranked in the top 11 for rushing (San Francisco 2nd, New England 7th, Baltimore 11th). Atlanta had some success but could not hold a 17-0 lead and were out-rushed 148-81

Accuracy wins

Colin Kaepernik completed 76.2 percent of his passes (none to the Falcons). Matt Ryan completed 71.4 percent of his (one to the 49ers). The difference may not seem significant except that in virtually every game of the postseason, the team with the most accurate quarterback won. Add in a running game and you have the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl instead of the Atlanta Falcons.

And up in Foxboro, Joe Flacco flat out-played Tom Brady and is going to the Super Bowl he would have been to last season if Lee Evans catches a pass

Will Trestman change Cutler?

Staying with the accuracy theme and applying it to the Bears and Jay Cutler:

A major positive for Marc Trestman was the names of quarterbacks on his resume: Rich Gannon, Bernie Kosar, Steve Young in particular. But a valid question to consider is just how much Trestman improved the play of his quarterbacks, since Trestman and QB coach Matt Cavanaugh getting more from Jay Cutler is a franchise directive.

RELATED: Cavanaugh hired as quarterback coach

Teams with Trestman on staff and handling quarterbacks frequently reached playoffs. But Gannons first two Oakland seasons with Trestman were the two most accurate of his career. His two with Trestman in Minnesota were decidedly pedestrian despite having Anthony Carter and Cris Carter as his receivers.

Youngs two seasons with Trestman were very good but neither were as good as the 1994 season before Trestman or 1997 after Trestman. Bernie Kosar had a Pro Bowl 1987 with Cleveland but 1988 was right about Kosars career averages for passer rating, completion percentage, etc. as he lost some time to injuries.

A quick look at the quarterbacks at Trestmans various NFL stops:

Quarterback (Team)
Steve DeBerg (Tampa Bay)
198757.8Bernie Kosar (Cleveland)
Rich Gannon (Minnesota)
199052.1199159.6Steve Young (San Francisco)
199566.9199667.7Scott Mitchell (Detroit)
199757.6Jake Plummer (Arizona)
199859.2199952.8200056.8Rich Gannon


Check back in October or November. Trestman and Cavanaugh have a seven-year NFL quarterback on their hands. How much they can alter his course likely comes down to how much Cutler buys into the ways of coaches who may not necessarily create great quarterbacks but certainly know what those look like.

MORE: Trestman's GPS has the Bears en route

Tightening up

The Bears need dramatically more at tight end over what Kellen Davis, Evan Rodriguez (as a fullback) and Matt Spaeth gave them. Baltimores Dennis Pitta is expected to be an unrestricted free agent, but the draft is an option for savvy talent evaluators.

Pitta and New Englands Aaron Gonzalez, like Rodriguez, were fourth-round draft choices.

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

FOX insider Jay Glazer confirmed on Sunday that the Bears expect quarterback Jay Cutler will be back from his sprained thumb and able to start against the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night in Soldier Field.

That would put Matt Barkley back where he has been pretty much his entire three-plus-year NFL career. Waiting.

That's the Bears want what every team wants – a young quarterback in the developmental pipeline – is no secret. Ryan Pace is among the NFL executives who speak of drafting a quarterback as much as every year, even if they don’t.

Could the Bears already have that player on their roster?

If Barkley, who was pressed into service when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken arm in last Thursday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, is in fact that player, he might not be surprised. But the rest of the NFL would be.

"I'm confident that no matter where I am or what the deal is,” Barkley said, after going 6-for-15 with no TD’s and two interceptions, “I can play in this league.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

He may be one of the few still holding onto that belief. The Bears picked up Barkley after the Arizona Cardinals discarded him in early September. The Cardinals didn’t see Barkley as even a practice-squad option, which the Bears did and where Barkley was working before Cutler’s thumb injury forced the Bears to sign him to the active roster.

“The [Bears] personnel people thought he was a taller [6-2] guy that stood in the pocket pretty well,” said coach John Fox. “A guy that we thought we could work with, that had some experience and, hopefully, he got a little bit more experience [at Green Bay].”

Barkley has gone from possible No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft to just another touted USC quarterback who failed or were no better than just-OK at the NFL level (Todd Marinovich, Rob Johnson, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez), who has thrown 65 NFL passes, none for a touchdown and six that were intercepted, including two in the Bears’ 26-10 loss last Thursday in Green Bay.

The question for Barkley at this point in his career is whether Chicago is his last stop and/or chance. Fourth-round draft picks have played their ways into prominence (Kirk Cousins in Washington, Dak Prescott in Dallas, even Sonny Jurgensen and Norm Van Brocklin if you want to find Hall of Famers), but Barkley has the added challenge of being on his third team and learning yet another offense after beginning this season running Houston and Philadelphia plays for the Bears’ defense.

Barkley offered no excuses for his poor showing (18.3 passer rating). Sort of.

“It definitely would be more beneficial [to have gotten more snaps before Green Bay],” Barkley said. “I’m not going to say what Coach should do; that’s his decision and you’ve got to deal with what you’re dealt.

“Just since I’ve been here, you know, scout-team reps and trying to put our plays into what we’re seeing on cards, you try to do every little thing you can to get better no matter what you’re doing. That’s no excuse.”

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.