In case you missed it, Jay Cutler won’t be calling the Chicago Bears’ third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans or the team’s regular season opener versus the Atlanta Falcons. Instead, the former Bears quarterback has stepped out of retirement and taken his talents to South Beach where he’ll join former offensive coordinator Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network calls it the perfect storm. And with $10 million coming Cutler’s way, the Dolphins are officially spending $30 million in cash on quarterbacks this season. The only team spending more? The Bears, who have thrown $35.7 million in cash at QBs according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
As Cutler returns, he’ll find that much hasn’t changed in the NFL landscape. He’ll still fight familiar demons, even though Martellus Bennett likes him more than Tony Romo or Eli Manning, and Gase said “a lot of the things said about (Cutler) is “bulls—.” Old tropes die hard, I suppose.
As for what’s going on with current members of the Bears:
Sup, QBs? pic.twitter.com/euAy0OO7Ls
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 6, 2017
- It’s easy to get lost in the noise surrounding who will be quarterbacking the Bears, but I’d really like to start looking more at the players on the defense in charge of attacking other teams’ signal callers. One of the players drawing high praise so far in camp has been safety Eddie Jackson, a rookie fourth-round pick who is challenging for playing time beyond his potential role as the team’s lead punt returner. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that Jackson is making a name for himself, and it sounds like head coach John Fox has been impressed with the Alabama product. “He’s been a return man, particularly tracking punts,” Fox said to Potash. “Typically those guys — going as far back as a guy like (Hall of Famer) Rod Woodson — they have good ball skills, and he seems to do that pretty naturally.”
- The Bears have had their fair share of troubles finding safeties with ball skills. It’s one of the reasons it was easy to see how signs pointed to the team taking Jamal Adams or one of the many talented safeties who earned a first-round grade – until the team totally flipped the script on everyone by trading up to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky on draft night. With free agent addition Quintin Demps seemingly locked in at one starting safety spot, Jackson could look to knock off returning starter Adrian Amos, who has been a steady starter for two years despite not having an interception in 31 games.
- Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is generally reserved in his comments, but there was no escaping his effusive praise for outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. “He’s got really good potential,” Fangio told ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson. “I think he’ll be a very good player for us and looked upon as a very good player in the league. If you’re looking for statistical numbers, I can’t put a finger on that. But he’ll be a damn good player.”
- To be clear, Fangio doesn’t mince words. Considering how close-to-the-vest most NFL coaches play it, Fangio’s comments can generally be described as genuine, honest, and refreshing. So to hear him gush over the second-year linebacker is worth noting. It wasn’t that long ago (September 2016) when Fangio expressed disappointment in Floyd’s development at training camp, saying the time he missed due to conditioning, weight issues, and nagging injuries stunted his growth as a player.
- Floyd’s development into (hopefully) a game-changing pass rusher is arguably the second most important story line to follow this season, because what happens with quarterback Mitch Trubisky ultimately takes center stage. Trubisky will be making his professional debut on Thursday against the Broncos, and JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago highlights what offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains wants to see from the second overall pick. While the obvious objective is to score points, Trubisky’s duties will go beyond that. “It doesn’t matter how it looks, you’ve just got to score points,” Loggains told Stankevitz. “That’s his job, so getting out there and now you’re dealing with the shot clock, making sure that we’re getting lined up right. At some point he is going to be with the threes and now you’ve got young receivers, young guys. Can you have total command in the situation you’re given and run the offense effectively?”
- Trubisky will enter an unenviable situation when he takes the field on Thursday, but that’s fitting because one could argue that being seen as the Bears’ franchise quarterback is an unenviable situation in his own right. The North Carolina product will start at the bottom, working with a third unit that could feature various players who won’t make it out of camp. We won’t try to take too much away from his performance, but we’ll keep an eye on how the rookie tries to make the most out of this situation.
- The defending NFC Champion Falcons will serve as the competition for the Bears’ regular season opener, will be without one of their most productive defenders. Cornerback Jalen Collins was suspended for 10 games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs – for a second time (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Collins played 636 snaps for the Falcons last season, and earned an 81.5 grade from Pro Football Focus – which is the highest grade of any cornerback currently on Atlanta’s roster.
- The Baltimore Ravens do not have a timetable for Joe Flacco’s return. The Super Bowl winning quarterback’s status is up-in-the-air as he recovers from a back injury. Head coach John Harbaugh has shown confidence that his star quarterback will be back before the end of the preseason, while Flacco has shown an inordinate amount of patience. Not only is Flacco’s status in flux, the same can be said for the state of the backup in Baltimore. The Bears take to the road to play the Ravens in Week 6.
- In case you’re curious about what’s going on with quarterbacks around the division, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions apparently looks sharp in practice. Stafford threw 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in leading the Lions to a 9-7 record in 2016, which featured eight fourth-quarter comebacks.
- Trent Baalke, the former 49ers GM who unceremoniously pushed Jim Harbaugh out the door in San Francisco, has a new job in the league’s offices as an operations consultant. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Baalke “will handle a variety of roles for the NFL.”