The Not-Quite Candidates
Jimmy Garoppolo – Gucci Garoppolo doesn’t get the call since he’s already enshrined in the 49ers Hall of Fame and likely in Canton next year. Additionally, Garoppolo is an easy choice, and I would simply spend the next 1,000 words telling you things you already know… Garoppolo is handsome, talented, the next Tom Brady, yada, yada. He’s everything.
The fact is, Garoppolo is already on Fantasy owners’ radars and should be knocking on that QB1 door, all jokes aside.
Deshaun Watson – The kid already lead Fantasy in PPG last year, despite having an inauspicious debut against the Jaguars. Even his performance against the Bengals left plenty to be desired and raised questions over his decision-making and potential as a rookie. Then the next five games happened, and Watson scored at least 22.1 points in each with 19 touchdowns (18 passing). The seven interceptions are a concern and evidence of that decision-making concern, but he also averaged 42.2 rushing yards after his first start, which as we know with Tyrod Taylor is a free passing touchdown.
Derek Carr – Prepare to have yet another season of Carr being overdrafted. I’ve always said that if I were starting an NFL team, Carr would likely be in the Top 10-12, or a QB1 by NFL standards. With Fantasy though, he’s always been overrated, as even in his best season, Carr still only averaged 17.6 PPG. The addition of Jon Gruden as head coach will have people fawning over Carr again, even though he’ll likely be without Michael Crabtree.
The Answer: Mitchell Trubisky
Pulling a decent amount from my NFL Draft profile, Trubisky has mechanical issues, yet throws accurately anyway. That’s due to Trubisky having the size, arm, confidence and anticipation that NFL teams desire. Trubisky is also very athletic and can put up yards on the ground with the best of them, as seen in his 248 rushing yards on 41 attempts. Another positive for Trubisky is that while he is a quality runner, he doesn’t let that distract him and keeps his eyes downfield whether moving in or out of the pocket.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though, as Trubisky can stare down his receiver at times. Additionally, while he’s good at finding the gaps in coverage, Trubisky still needs to improve in understanding coverages. Trubisky is also still working on his footwork and mechanics, as they will lead to sailing passes. Back to the positives, as with his time at UNC, Trubisky displayed good pocket presence and performed better in play action (63.9 Comp%, 86.0 QBR, 7.9 YPA versus 58.1/75.1/6.3). His completion percentage was actually 10th best in the league in play action, and he also performed at a high level with his downfield passing.
Truthfully, it would have been better for Trubisky to sit and develop his first year, but the play of Mike Glennon forced the issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that Trubisky was overwhelmed by starting so early, and the lessons learned will help him progress quicker.
This is where the biggest question lies for 2018. John Fox is gone (thankfully) with the Bears hiring former Chiefs offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy, and bringing in Mark Helfrich to be the OC. We just saw Alex Smith have the best season of his career under the leadership of Nagy and Andy Reid. While many will give credit to Reid for his work with quarterbacks, Smith’s previous high in yards was 3,502 in 2016 and touchdowns at 23 in 2013. Nagy arrived in 2016, and while it could take time to develop in his offense, it’s also clear that Smith never came close to this level of passing before Nagy became the OC.
While Nagy will likely be the play caller, Helfrich will take part in the gameplan and play strategies. After Chip Kelly left Oregon, Helfrich was supposed to make a seamless transition from offensive coordinator to successful head coach. Unfortunately, his poor recruiting and lack of attention to defense lead to a career 37-16 record and his firing after the 2016 season. But don’t forget the success seen in Marcus Mariota in 2014, the year that the Ducks went to the College Football Playoff. Mariota simply had 5,224 yards (4,454 passing) and 57 touchdowns (42 passing) that season.
With Nagy in charge and Helfrich contributing, we won’t see a full-time spread or high-tempo offense for the Bears. However, we will see more creativity and schemes to open up the offense. Jordan Howard may not see more consistency with this duo, but Tarik Cohen, Trubisky and his receivers have their arrows pointing up. Both Nagy and Helfrich are great at finding matchups to exploit, and the potential for a more explosive Bears offense is real, starting with Trubisky.
We know the running backs with the aforementioned Howard and Cohen, and both Nagy and Helfrich should wisely move away from the Benny Cunningham nonsense, using Howard early and Cohen in space.
The receivers are the main question with Kevin White unable to stay on the field and Kendall Wright being the team’s top receiver in 2017. The Bears will likely add at least two receivers to the group, whether via the draft or free agency. You can guarantee that they will be great fits for the Nagy/Helfrich style, likely leaning to the speedier threats they love. With Adam Shaheen developing late this past season and heading into his sophomore campaign, Trubisky will have a better surrounding cast. You know what 2017 quarterback had the same running back, a new coach and new additions at receiver and as a result put together his breakout season? Jared Goff. That’s right; Mitchell Trubisky could be the next Jared Goff… with much better rushing ability.