Random News of the Day: Would you rather...

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Random News of the Day: Would you rather...

Tue. Jan 4, 2011
9:52 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Happy New Year!

I hope that the start of 2011 was a good one for you. It certainly was for the Monsters of the Midway. A lot of critics figured that the Bears will be on the couch watching the playoffs come January 8th. And wouldnt you know itthose critics were absolutely right. The Bears earned a first round bye and the right to channel surf during the start of the NFL postseason. The Bears will practice Wednesday and Thursday before awaiting the New Orleans-Seattle and Philadelphia-Green Bay games over the weekend. If the 3-seed Eagles win, then Michael Vick and company come to Soldier Field. If the Packers win, then the Bears host the winner of the Saints-Seahawks game.

I was going to do a preview of each NFL playoff game, but then quickly realized that a preview of this nature would end up looking like that scene in Mr. Mom when Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) is trying to fight the out of control washing machine. Its a futile exercise and its just going to leave you looking like an idiot if you even try to outsmart the menacing beast. This season, the NFL has been that out of control washing machinestuffed up with too many potential surprises. Take the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks for that matter. Given this crazy season, would you even flinch if they shock New Orleans? Doubt it. I mean, outside of maybe penciling the New England Patriots in for a win or two, what rock-solid locks are there? Good luck on trying to outsmart the machine.

And yes, I just referenced Mr. Mom.

So I figure that, since the prediction game is out, why not try an NFL variation of the game Would You Rather? Apparently this is an actual card game that adults play as a sort of ice breaker at parties (picture a PG version of Truth or Dare, crossed with a Choose Your Own Adventure book and a typical eHarmony first date conversation). Its a game that focuses on what you would do in hypothetical situations. But lets focus Would You Rather on the Bears' first opponent in the playoffs.

If you were the Bears, would you rather

1. play the Saints? The Super Bowl champs? Really? I wouldnt mind it. Yes, the Saints racked up 11 wins. Yes, Drew Brees and his receivers can carve up a secondary like Zorro slashing a Z into somebodys chest. But they have shown they are susceptible to dumb mistakes (-5 turnover ratio). Have they played their best football yet? I don't think so. Yes, they lost to Cleveland and Arizona but they were also hampered by injuries. Maybe the Seahawks will smack a little wake-up call into the Saints? Hey, with this crazy NFL seasonwho knows. Speaking of which

2. play the Seahawks? Ha! Sure, why not! A 7-9 team that ends up playing the Bears after beating New Orleans? Wowthe Saints would really have to mail it in for this to happen. The Seahawks have very few playmakers on their offense, not to mention a shaky offensive line. Their defense is iffy at best. They were the kings of the NFC Westa division that was the butt of constant jokes this season. But hey, theyve already come into Chicago and dealt with the Bears (23-20 on October 17th). By the way, is it just me or does their quarterback Charlie Whitehurst look a little like a younger Bob Seger? Given the insanity of this NFL season, I wouldnt be surprised if Bob Seger comes off the bench and quarterbacks a team to victory. Too bad his hometown Detroit Lions arent in the postseason.

3. or play the Eagles? Again, why not? The Bears already grounded Michael Vick and the Eagles earlier this year (31-26 on November 28th). But can anybody figure this Philly team out? Which group comes to Chicago: the team that staged an epic comeback against the Giants? Maybe the team that beat the Colts? Or Atlanta? Or the team that looked like raw sewage against the Vikings? Keep in mind that the Packers have already beaten the Eagles this yearin Philly. The Eagles have loads of injuries and who knows if that situation will get any better when a physical Packers team shows up this weekend.

Its up to you, Bears fans. What do you think? What team poses the biggest threat? Or the smallest one? What will it take to put a smile on your face? I insist on playing the Would You Rather game. Dont end up making predictions about the playoffs. Heck, dont even listen to any of the blowhards making predictions. Pssshlike they have any clue whats going on, you know? They should know that the NFL is unpredictable.

Like an out-of-control washing machine.

Or something like that.

No sign Bears locked into drafting a QB in 2017 as Ryan Pace underscores 'best available' tack

No sign Bears locked into drafting a QB in 2017 as Ryan Pace underscores 'best available' tack

PHOENIX – NFL owners meetings, like the Scouting Combine, invariably involve hallway conversations regarding quarterbacks. Why doesn’t Colin Kaepernick have a job? Why does Mark Sanchez have one? Will Jay Cutler take one? This year, despite a 3-13 record last season and a continuing slide toward irrelevance, the Bears are in intriguing part of those conversations, or maybe, whispers.

The reason, beyond the obvious fact that the Bears stand at No. 3 in a QB-lite draft, is because the Bears not only have done significant things at the position – cutting Cutler, signing Sanchez and Mike Glennon, not signing Brian Hoyer – but one NFL source said to keep an eye on the Bears as potentially being involved in at least one future blockbuster after this season.

More on that in a moment.

First of all, every indication is that GM Ryan Pace is absolutely NOT locked into or about to allow himself to be pressured into drafting a quarterback in 2017. Certainly not at No. 3, maybe not at all. Maybe this is pre-draft posturing, misinformation or misdirection, and Pace has said in the past that he wants to draft quarterbacks but hasn’t in his first two Bears drafts. But still:

“We’re going to draft the best players available, wherever that may be,” Pace said on Tuesday. “And if it’s a quarterback, it’s a quarterback. But we’re going to take the best players available. I think now some of those things are unforeseen. You can’t predict some of those things. But right now I like the way Sanchez blends with Glennon and with Connor Shaw.”

Whether the public likes Pace’s moves at quarterback, or whether they’re good, bad or anywhere in between is just offseason speculation for now. The NFL will start giving him meaningful feedback sometime this September. What Pace has in fact done, regardless of analyses at this point, like it or not, is create options for himself and his coaches. And those extend beyond 2017.

Some context here: Even with some measure of job security in the short term, Pace is tasked with winning in the future as well as the present. He has addressed the 2017 quarterback situation, if not spectacularly, with Glennon and Sanchez specifically. But think beyond ’17; because Pace is.

More context: GM’s and head coaches like and need options. Doubts about Glennon, Sanchez, Connor Shaw or some rookie notwithstanding, Pace has the Bears positioned with options, not necessarily good options, but arguably best-available for the most part.

A little more context: Dowell Loggains may not have quelled all doubts about his play calling, but Cutler, Hoyer and Matt Barkley all had their best NFL stretches, albeit short, under his stewardship. 

Pace has effectively positioned the Bears for not one or two, but as many as a half-dozen spins of the quarterback wheel looking for a winner. It is a place the Bears were not in for most of Cutler’s tenure outside of brief Hoyer and Josh McCown bursts.

Within this context, consider the Pace’s chances for a strike at THE priority position for the franchise:

Spin 1: Mike Glennon

Pace announced the former Bucs quarterback as the Bears’ starter. Probably is. But Matt Flynn was the Seahawks’ starter when they free-agent signed him away from Green Bay in 2012. He lost his starting job by the end of training camp to a rookie third-round draft choice, Russell Wilson.

The Bears chose Glennon over Cutler and Hoyer because of upside; if Glennon plays to his perceived ceiling, the Bears have him under contract for two more years.

Spin 2: Mark Sanchez

When all the cynical subsides, consider him a low-risk spin who has been good enough to stand a career 37-35 as a starter. McCown amounted to something and still is after age 30, even with bad teams. Hoyer played some of his best football the past two seasons, after age 30. If Loggains resuscitates Sanchez’s career at age 30… .

Spin 3: The rookie

How, where and even if – make that a big IF – the Bears make their first Ryan Pace draft pick of a quarterback doesn’t come around for another month. But whomever the Bears select, if they select a quarterback this draft, gives Pace another spin of the QB wheel.

Spin 4: Kirk Cousins

CSNChicago.com confirmed that the Bears called on Cousins’ availability, even with the specter of Washington’s franchise tag hanging over him. But as one NFL source noted, Cousins is on a one-year deal ($23.94 million tag guarantee), it is his second and presumably last tag, and he has spurned long-term Washington offers to this point.

Glennon’s contract commits the Bears to $16 million this year. After that, minimal guarantee. Sanchez, one-year deal. Cousins, one-year deal.

Next offseason… . 

Spin 5: Jimmy Garoppolo

The Eastern Illinois quarterback wasn’t deemed worth a No. 3 pick in 2014, in either round one or two. He hasn’t put enough on film to make him worth that pick now.

But if the Cleveland Browns don’t trade for him, or New England hasn’t turned to him and locked him up contractually, he would be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. It will take a long-term market deal but at least he wouldn’t cost a high No. 1.

Spin 6: Connor Shaw

He is already clearly getting a preseason look, as he did last year, and is ahead of evaluations that accompanied David Fales and some other Bears hopefuls. He’s found money if he develops into something, but Warren Moon, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner were all undrafted free agents, too.

Bears believe they got more than just a No. 2 QB in signing Mark Sanchez

Bears believe they got more than just a No. 2 QB in signing Mark Sanchez

PHOENIX – The signing of Mark Sanchez last week gave the Bears what they view as a bona fide No. 2 quarterback, something they have needed at least one of in each of the last seven seasons. Sanchez has started 72 NFL games vs. the 18 of Mike Glennon but GM Ryan Pace reiterated on Tuesday that Glennon is ensconced as the starter.
 
More than just finding a viable backup has been at stake in the Bears' quest for a backup, and in a clear statement of philosophy, Pace affirmed that intangibles played a significant part in deciding on Sanchez. Part of those specifically involved an assessment of how Sanchez would work off the field with Glennon.
 
"He's knowledgeable, he's smart and him and Mike have already kind of clicked," Pace said. "They're together and they're organizing workouts on their own and those kind of things are important.
 
"We've talked about it before: There's no more important room than the quarterback room and we put a lot of thought as to how that room blends together, especially with the number two position. Obviously we're evaluating the physical traits and what he can do physically but how they fit in as teammates, how they help each other, how they support each other. I think we've all seen really good rooms that are better as a whole because of the people that are in there. And maybe some rooms that don't click well together. I think we've created an environment not only with him but also with Connor Shaw where it's a room that can really click together and make each other better."

[MORE BEARS: No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety]
 
While Pace and coach John Fox have preached competition throughout the depth chart, that does not appear to apply at quarterback the same way. Indeed, a true quarterback competition can divide teams and become a distraction cloud over more than just that one position.
 
Glennon in fact may not need a lot of external competition. He is effectively playing to restart his NFL career, with $16 million guaranteed for the 2017 season but only $2.5 million guaranteed beyond that on a contract with a top-out of $45 million over three years.
 
"I think it's good for them to always be pushing each other so there's competition," Pace said. "Glennon's our starter… but that doesn't mean they're not pushing each other throughout practice and I think that goes with Connor Shaw, too. So those guys are all competitive guys, we wouldn't want them if they weren't competitive, and I just think it's a healthy competition."