From Comcast SportsNetHONOLULU (AP) -- A handful of shenanigans and plenty of points -- yet still another ho-hum Pro Bowl.Whether the NFL's all-star game will return next season is a something the league will ponder the next few months after the NFC's 62-35 blowout of the AFC on Sunday."It's been an unbelievable week," Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson said, "And the thing was, if you watched us, everybody was competing today and it was really awesome."Wilson at least got the crowd pumped up in the second half with some nifty scrambles and three passing touchdowns. There was also Houston's sack-happy defensive end J.J. Watt going out for a couple of passes as a wide receiver, and retiring Green Bay center Jeff Saturday snapping to two Mannings on opposite teams.But while the NFC appeared unstoppable on offense, with nearly each player putting up fantasy-worthy lines in limited play, the AFC had five turnovers and scored most of its points well after the game was no longer competitive.Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph was voted the game's MVP with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown."Guys were competing, guys wanted to win and guys want to keep the game here," Rudolph insisted. "That was the point before the game. We want to keep this game rolling for future Pro Bowlers."Watt, who had 20 12 sacks for Houston, lined up as a wide receiver on the AFC's third play from scrimmage, but missed a pass from Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. He was targeted one more time, but didn't make a catch.He later showed a television camera a bloody left pinkie, joking with NBC broadcasters that it was proof that the players were trying."Hey, Commish, we're playing hard," Watt said as he showed his finger.Roger Goodell has said the Pro Bowl won't be played again if play didn't improve this year. Last year, fans in Hawaii booed as lineman were clearly not trying. On one play in that game, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen did a barrel roll to switch positions with a teammate.If players were coasting this time around, it was less obvious. The AFC just played poorly. And fans didn't boo much -- the stands were relatively empty even though the game sold enough tickets to lift a local television blackout.The game was trending on Twitter in the United States early on, but quickly gave way to the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the WWE Royal Rumble.Saturday, retiring at the end of this season, played for both teams, though he came representing the NFC. He lined up on one play for the AFC to snap the ball one last time to Manning, his longtime former Colts teammate.Saturday said it meant a lot to him that the Broncos quarterback, whom Saturday called a true friend, orchestrated the stunt."He's got a little more pull than I got," Saturday said. "He got it all set up and timed up for me, so it was really nice of him to do that."Saturday played 13 seasons in Indianapolis, all with Manning -- except 2011, when Manning was out with a neck injury. Saturday then played later in the game for the NFC, snapping to Peyton's brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning.Saturday's last play on the field was a passing touchdown by Eli Manning.Peyton Manning said it was nice for the NFL to allow the play to happen."It's something that I'll always remember," he said, "that he'll always remember to kind of get that one, final snap together after the thousands that we've taken together."Even as the NFC piled up touchdowns, the game struggled for memorable moments after Saturday's momentary switch.In the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty on Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the second quarter -- the first flag of the game."Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl," Hochuli said, drawing laughs and loud cheers.Giants wideout Victor Cruz broke a Pro Bowl record with 10 catches. Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson had 91 yards and two touchdowns. Eli Manning threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns.Cincinnati's A.J. Green had three TD catches for the AFC.NFL officials said earlier in the week that the league wants to decide the future of the Pro Bowl by the time next season's schedule is released in April."We understood exactly what (Goodell) wanted, guys were making plays all over the field," Cruz said. "There was a little bit more high intensity than in years past and we were excited to play."
In just the last three NFL seasons the Bears have changed every significant skill position on the offensive side of the ball. Gone are quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and tight end Martellus Bennett.
It's a new era in Chicago for more reasons than one, and Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King shared his thoughts on what that might look like in his latest NFL Power Rankings.
King has the Bears ranked 28th, ahead of just the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. But he's optomistic on a few fronts.
- Free-agent signing Mike Glennon is grinding his teeth over the drafting of QB Mitchell Trubisky (second pick in the draft), and he has one season to stake his claim for the job. (I wouldn’t be optimistic in the Glennon household.)
- Second-round tight end Adam Shaheen will step in early in a prominent offensive role.
- The starting quarterbacks from 2016—Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley—were all let go, an odd development for a team that retains the same coach, offensive coordinator and GM
- At quarterback, I don’t just assume that Glennon/Trubisky will automatically be better than what Chicago had last year. Thankfully, running back Jordan Howard came out of nowhere (the 2015 fifth round) to gain 1,313 yards, to rank a stunning second in the NFL. It’s vital he doesn’t have a sophomore slump. In short, I can’t see the Bears being .500 unless one of the quarterbacks emerges as a top 20 passer by early in the season.
- Most important factor to this team this year: Of course it’s the quarterback race between Glennon and Trubisky. That one’s too obvious. There’s another one. Kevin White was the seventh pick of the 2015 draft. In two years, he’s played four of 32 games, caught zero touchdown passes, and had zero impact. This is the year the Bears have to see some degree of explosiveness and/or competence out of a player drafted ahead of Vic Beasley, Melvin Gordon and Marcus Peters.
- Bears prediction of 10 words or less: Trubisky is the quarterback by Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter.
King's final thought might be his most interesting. Trubisky starting by Thanksgiving would put the Bears in Week 12. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone doesn't seem intent on delegating any starting duties out in the preseason, but perhaps that would change as the season moves along. Shaheen will be asked to do plenty of learning and growing in his first season, while it's clear White needs a breakout season after the Bears moved on from Jeffery in the offseason.
John Fox hates drama within his locker room. Through his first two seasons, it's one of two things we've definitely learned (see departures like Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett, trading hubris for harmony). The other thing is his hiding lineups and injuries from the media as best as possible.
With first round pick Mitch Trubisky spending a good chunk of last week in Los Angeles for NFL-mandated rookie events, he returns, now full-time, into the quarterbacks room with the man brought in to start this season, Mike Glennon. Veterans Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw will provide the sidebars. But it's Glennon who'll have to ignore a sense of déjà vu. Not feeling this is his Jameis Winston 2.0 all over again, as much as the blueprint indicates that's exactly what it is.
Perhaps more so than offensive cooridnator Dowell Loggains, it's quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone who will be in charge of taking the room's temperature. But he truly believes he won't be preoccupied with that as the Bears take the field this week for OTAs.
"It's one of those things, within a quarterback room, about helping the starter, getting that starter ready to play," Ragone said two Fridays ago, following the first day of rookie minicamp in Lake Forest. "For anyone who's ever been in that room, egos are not egos when there's a starting quarterback, then the guys behind him.
"Mike's a professional, as well as Mark and Connor. Mike's done a good job of not just embedding himself within the system, but with his teammates. The draft was over, he came in Monday, we went in the classroom and Mike was asking questions about protections. It was as professional as you could imagine."
On Tuesday Glennon will speak publicly for the first time since Trubisky's name was called April 27. The workouts are still non-contact, only in jersey tops and shorts, and an opportunity to see how well the system and rhythm with new receivers is grasped, and how snaps are split.
"It is our job, at the end of the day, to get the starter ready, and obviously getting everybody else feeling ready to play. So we'll figure that out as time progresses," Ragone said.
We'll have to wait until late July and August for a cleaner measure of how practice time is split up, and even then the priority is to get Glennon ready for 2017. But last weekend was Ragone's first chance to see Trubisky on the field, on Halas Hall property. And he liked the way the signal caller of the future handled the most basic of basics.
"Just calling the system, the new plays, getting out there and having 11 guys line up where they're supposed to, being in charge of that. It's all a process," he said. "Every quarterback is different. They all have different strengths, different weaknesses. So when is a guy ready? When can he play? That doesn't even enter my thought process. To me it's getting each guy – a veteran or a rookie – coached to how we want them, get them ready to play, and then, obviously, playing to their strengths when they're on the field."
So just as he did waiting his turn at North Carolina, the plan (which can always change) is to have Trubisky needing to master "mental reps" for the third time in four years.
"When you're not in, getting the physical rep, mentally you have to go through those exact same mechanics: How you view the defense, what you're seeing from the back end, where you would go with the football," Ragone said. "If you're not getting that physical rep, that's what you have to do. It'll be the same for everybody that way."
It's not like Trubisky is a stranger to Ragone, who stays close to coaches at his prep alma mater, St. Ignatius High School outside of Cleveland. When the Bears' interest in Trubisky intensified, it brought him back to a 2012 state playoff game between Ignatius and Mentor High School. A triple-overtime, 57-56 loss. Trubisky threw for 411 yards, and ran for 138 more.
"I've known about Mitchell since high school. My high school coaches still have scars of what he was able to do against them his senior year. I think every highlight that gets shown, that's against my high school, so we have a rule, we don't talk about that. It's like Fight Club in the quarterback room."
And with the signing of Glennon and the drafting of Trubisky, the quarterback move in between - of signing free agent Mark Sanchez through much local wailing and gnashing of teeth – now gains more clarity.
"This early on you can feel his being in different buildings, his presence about that," Ragone said. "His ability to relate things, from a personal side and professional side, and you can see the interaction he's already had with Mike and Connor. Those are invaluable. He's been through a lot in a nine-year career.
"He's a very talented individual and has a lot of experience to draw from. He was a top 5 pick in a big media market (New York) in which he was asked to play (helping the Jets reach the AFC Championship game each of his first two years). He was also asked to play as a veteran, so telling Mike, 'Hey, I saw this…I did this.' To me, he's been a great asset so far."
So Ringmaster Ragone has more excitement than dread about that quarterback room's energy, experience and potential. And he's more interested in serving them than policing them, all with a great sense of respect for whom he's spending all that time with.
"Every quarterback I've been able to coach at this level has been an honor," he said. "I understand being a quarterback at this level. At the end of the day, there aren't many of them. You do the quick math, there's less than 100 that play at this level. I hold that with a very high esteem when you're the top of your position in what you do."