Jeff Fisher isn’t in our NFL lives this season, but John Fox has stepped into his role marvelously.
The handling of star rookie Mitch Trubisky through the preseason didn’t always make sense, because it seems like the game has passed Fox by. Take how Trubisky was handled in the fourth preseason game on Thursday night.
It’s not crazy that Trubisky started the fourth preseason game. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, a fellow first-round pick, started Thursday night too (and played very well). But late in the game, when Connor Shaw got hurt, Fox put Trubisky back in the game cold. And that isn’t the worst crime either; the Bears have to finish the game with someone taking snaps. But the dumb thing was having Trubisky passing the ball in the final minute of a meaningless game. Run the ball. Take a knee. Punt on first down. Anything but what they did.
Trubisky came on when Shaw got hurt on a run toward the sideline with 1:09 left. The Bears trailed 25-0. Trubisky came in and the Bears called a third-down pass (!), and Trubisky got hit. That play got the first down. After a couple run plays, with 11 seconds left the Bears passed again with Trubisky. It was incomplete. Then with six seconds left, on fourth down, the Bears passed again (yes, seriously) and Trubisky got sacked. That entire sequence is insane. An actual NFL coaching staff thought all of that was a good idea. Thankfully Trubisky didn’t get hurt.
Fox didn’t see any problem with the second pick of the draft taking snaps behind offensive linemen who are mostly going to get cut. Not only did Fox not understand why this was a bad thing, he bristled when asked about it according to ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson.
“Anytime you go out there, it’s a risk, truth be told,” Bears coach John Fox said after the game, via ESPN Chicago. “Football is a rough game, no doubt. You don’t want to see people get hurt, but it is part of the game. I don’t know if we exposed Mitch a whole lot, but I can also say anytime you trot between those lines you are exposed.
“I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t the first time he’s been hit and it won’t be the last.”
Chicago fans, you do not want this man guiding you through Trubisky’s development. He’s stuck in a time and an era when it was a smart thing to get star players hit in the preseason.
Let’s reset the scenario again, because it’s hard to believe: With six seconds left and the Bears facing fourth down, trailing 25-0 in the fourth preseason game when most of the players on the field will be cut this weekend, Fox thought it was just fine to have the second overall pick of the draft – who has looked incredible in the preseason and given the Bears more hope at quarterback than they’ve had in years – pass the ball and get sacked. That’s absolutely, positively amazing.
The fact that the Bears were even going through the charade of having Mark Sanchez come in before Trubisky in preseason games was kind of concerning. It wasn’t that Trubisky’s development was being ruined by missing a drive or two as he waited behind Sanchez, it was just amazing that a coaching staff could be so stuck in an era from three decades ago when “rookies have to earn their place” that they’d go through the dog-and-pony show of having Trubisky play behind Sanchez. Nobody in the world, perhaps not even Sanchez, thinks Sanchez should be the Bears’ backup ahead of Trubisky. Then add in the truly bad decision to have Trubisky pass three times (and get hit twice) in the final minute of the most meaningless game of the season, and it’s really a bad look.
Last season the Rams seemed to mismanage first overall pick Jared Goff in many ways, with Fisher as coach. It seemed like they were sticking to a plan that was accepted years and years ago. Then when Goff finally did play, he was bad. You’ve seen signs of life from Goff this preseason, with young coach Sean McVay, who seems to understand the modern NFL pretty well.
Hopefully we’re not seeing a similar story play out in Chicago with their star rookie quarterback.
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