I was able to catch up with Mike Burzawa of Bear Goggles On, the Chicago Bears site on FanSided. We had a back and forth Q&A that was really insightful for both sides. Here’s the link to my answers to his questions. Cheers to Mike for taking time out of his day to do this, and good luck to the Bears this weekend and in the future!
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1. With Jay Cutler probably gone after the year and Brian Hoyer not a long term answer, which QB do you want to see the Bears draft, trade for or sign in free agency?
Mike: I hate to go down the trade rabbit hole again. That, of course, is how we got Cutler in the first place. But I think the safest prospect that I’d like to see the Bears add is to go get Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots. He’s young, has a ton of upside and has proven some level of competence at the NFL level. I feel like draft picks are so hit or miss, I don’t want to wait three years until a rookie quarterback may emerge. I know that Dak Prescott is looking really sharp for the Cowboys right now, but I feel like he’s the exception rather than the rule. Look at what’s been going on with Jared Goff with the Rams. He’s just starting to see action. Carson Wentz looked really good to start the season, but he’s come down to Earth.
Besides the good performance with the Patriots this season, Garoppolo is a Chicago guy. He grew up in Chicago, as a Bears fan and he attended Eastern Illinois, the same school that Bears GM Ryan Pace attended. We love to connect dots when we speculate and those are some pretty big dots.
2. Other than Matt Barkley, who needs to step up on offense in order for the Bears to have success in this game?
Mike: I would like to see something from wide receiver Marquess Wilson on Sunday. He started the season on the PUP list and finally returned to action last week. He had a big 35-yard reception on the Bears final drive that almost set them up for a game-winning TD.
Wilson has had injuries derail his career. He has shown flashes with his speed and route running, but has been far too inconsistent. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal, so I’d like to see if the Bears decide to keep him if he can string together a few good performances down the stretch in 2016.
3. The Bears defense really hasn’t been all that bad, especially considering how many injuries they’ve dealt with. Vic Fangio has done a great job of maximizing his available talent, but will he able to contain the Titans offense on Sunday?
Mike: That’s a great question. The Bears defense has really surprised me this season. I knew that Vic Fangio was good with a solid reputation and resume coming with him, but he’s flat out worked miracles with the lack of talent on this team. The secondary has been a revolving door all season. The defensive line has been crippled with injuries, most notably Eddie Goldman.
I have to admit, the Titans offense is better than I expected. They’ve got a lot of weapons to attack the Bears. I’m most worried about the matchup of the Bears secondary against the Titans passing game. If the Bears want any hope of pulling off a miracle, it will be if they can pressue Mariota into some mistakes and get some takeaways.
4. Jordan Howard has been outstanding as a rookie, despite John Fox’s insistence for much of the season on not making him the workhorse. Do you see him having success in this game, even with Barkley as the offense’s operator?
Mike: I think Howard’s emergence was stunted for a couple of reasons. First, Jeremy Langford was drafted last season and earned a shot to be the feature back after successfully playing as Matt Forte’s understudy. He played well in his limited opportunities.
Second, I don’t think John Fox is a huge fan of rookies. He would like his players to earn their reps on the field. I thought we’d seen enough of Howard in the preseason to warrant a few more touches early on. Now that we’ve seen what he can do, the sky’s the limit for this kid.
As a Howard fantasy owner, I’m definitely concerned about his effectiveness without Jay Cutler. I suspect the Titans are going to load the box in an effort to have Barkley beat them. Howard has been good enough, especially after first contact, that I think he’ll still have a decent day.
5. Given all of Alshon Jeffery’s problems, on and off the field, would you want the Bears to retain him after this year? Or is it time to just hand the reins to Kevin White and Cameron Meredith?
Mike: That’s one of the most frustrating parts of the 2016 season. It’s bad enough that Jeffery has been nursing various nagging soft tissue injuries, but that Kevin White has been such a limited participant. It would have been really nice to see White get a full season under his belt so he can hit the ground running. So after two seasons you still don’t really know what you have in White? Is he the next Amari Cooper or is he David Terrell? (Bears fans will remember that reference!)
If I were the Bears GM, I think I’d still try to re-sign Alshon this offseason. He’s got the physical tools that you just can’t coach. Regardless of the quarterback, I think Jeffery can be successful. Besides, the Bears have so few draft picks that have amounted to anything, it’s hard to let any home grown talent out the door, especially if there’s no compensation coming back.