The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Chicago Bears on Sunday, which means it’s finally time for a Q&A with our opposing blogger—in this case, Jeff Berckes of Windy City Gridiron. You can find the other side of our conversation there.
On to the questions, though!
1) How satisfied are the Bears and fans with Mike Glennon? Will he be replaced by Mitch Trubisky at some point this season?
John Fox plays it close to the vest. He is one of those coaches who oozes contempt for the media and the Chicago media is quick to run you over with that kind of attitude. So as far as any sign into the Bears satisfaction at the QB position is, Mike Glennon is the quarterback. Hard Stop.
The fans are… hard to gauge. Mike Glennon was booed at Wrigley field on April 14th because, well, you can’t underestimate the Bears fans love of Jay Cutler. Then, unbelievably, Mitchell Trubisky was booed at a Bulls game on April 28th, the day after he was drafted because, well, you can’t underestimate the Bears fans love of... Mike Glennon? Seriously, this fan base is just confused. I’d say after the preseason and week 1 performance, there are probably more people in the “start Trubisky now” camp than the “let him learn” camp, but the fan base is fairly well split. Until someone steps in and starts winning, Bears fans will be dissatisfied.
I absolutely believe that Mitchell Trubisky will be the starter at some point this year. John Fox is definitely on the hot seat and will need to play the Trubisky card at some point. The Bears have a stacked schedule in the first half and will find it difficult to find a win in September. If the Bears are 0-4, I imagine Trubisky will start in Week 5 against the Vikings.
2) Was Tarik Cohen's week one performance just a blip, or a sign of something more? And will he get more playing time this week?
The Bears were high on Cohen coming out of the draft and there were steady signs that they expected him to play a significant role on the offense. Personally, I didn’t buy the offseason chatter, but after week 1, I’m fully bought in. The comparisons to Darren Sproles are everywhere and that would be just fine for me. However, he took a handful of big hits and that was frightening. He’ll need to learn how to avoid those hits and stay healthy but I would expect his playing time in week 1 to hold steady. Cohen had 28 snaps (42%) to Jordan Howard’s 38 snaps (57%) last week and that already seems significant. I could see him increasing his snaps in the slot with Howard in the backfield as the Bears are thin at wide receiver.
3) How happy are the Bears and fans with John Fox? Is he under pressure after two pretty bad seasons, or does Trubisky's presence buy him some time?
I don’t think anyone really likes Fox. I had thought about putting together a Head Coach Power Rankings list for the Bears coach in 2018, but felt like maybe it was a little soon to start that idea. To be fair, Fox had to pick up the pieces from a disastrous turn of Phil Emery GM and Marc Trestman Head Coach. He needed to establish a new structure and take the team through a major roster transition. I’d say he’s done that decently well, despite the lack of wins last season. The Bears are going to be a tough out this year and even if they aren’t ready to compete for a playoff spot, I think the stench of incompetence is washing off.
However, the Bears need to ask themselves if John Fox is the right guy to develop Mitchell Trubisky. I think the answer is a resounding no, and if there’s an opportunity to grab a top offensive mind, Trubisky should be enough to attract the right coach. My hope is that the Saints cut ties with Sean Payton and Drew Brees at the end of the year and finally try to rebuild that franchise. General Manager Ryan Pace grew up in the Saints system and I can imagine his dream scenario would be pulling Payton into Chicago. Fun Fact - Payton was a “Spare Bear” during the 1987 strike in which he completed 8 of 23 passes for 79 yards. It would be a fascinating full circle to see him come back.
4) Which little-known players could have a big impact on Sunday's game?
On offense, I’d say Kendall Wright. I would assume most remember the name but didn’t know he played for the Bears. The Bears offense started moving the ball last week when they went in Wright’s direction and with Cameron Meredith and Kevin White on the IR, Wright is the most talented receiver on the team. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tanner Gentry, just signed off the practice squad, as a preseason hero and fan favorite. I don’t think he’ll get many snaps but he’s a fun player to cheer for.
On defense, rookie Safety Eddie Jackson out of Alabama will be roaming the back end. Jackson beat out Adrian Amos and Bears fans everywhere are crossing their fingers that the safety position can get some stability. The Bears really haven’t had a consistent playmaker since Mike Brown and I can’t wait for Jameis to float one out there for Jackson.
5) If you had to beat the Bears, which strategy would you use? What are the weaknesses and strengths and how would you attack them?
I’d put the ball in Winston’s hands and throw the ball all game. The front 7 is legitimately good against the run, but the Bears are lacking a consistent secondary pass rusher behind Leonard Floyd. I don’t think there’s anyone on the back end that can cover Mike Evans, so I would assume the coverage to roll to his side of the field like they did against Julio last week. If Winston doesn’t hit DeSean Jackson on at least 2 big throws, the Bucs aren’t doing it right.
On defense, it goes the other way. Stack the box and don’t let Jordan Howard beat you. Allow your talented corners to play man coverage against the underwhelming options for the Bears and blitz the heck out of Mike Glennon. The Ginger Giraffe had under 50 yards at half time last week and only started to pile up the yards he did against prevent style zone coverage. The dude is a statue back there – make him check it down early or eat it for sacks.