The general consensus regarding the Chicago Bears is that they will add a new quarterback at some point this offseason. What nobody knows is the extent they’ll go to. Will they throw caution to the wind and go after a brand new starter? Or will they seek a cheap backup with starting experience who can push Mitch Trubisky from behind? Opinions are divided on that subject, but most believe the latter will be the choice for GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.
There are two reasons for this. One is the rumor that Pace isn’t ready to give up on Trubisky despite his struggles in 2019. The other is simple mathematics. Chicago is limited in terms of salary cap space. Unless they do some massive overhauling of their payroll, the odds of them securing a pricy veteran free agent or trade acquisition are limited. Besides, the depth of this market should enable them to secure somebody of note for a relative bargain.
One name that constantly comes up is Marcus Mariota. The former #2 overall pick finally ran out of time in Tennessee, losing his starting job to the resurgent Ryan Tannehill. Many feel he’s a lost cause at this point. However, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated isn’t one of them. He believes Mariota still can realize his potential.
Surprisingly enough, the Bears are a perfect spot for him to do it.
“Mariota is both accurate and mobile. Throughout his career he’s had to deal with constant change and a buffet of different schemes. There are coaches out there—cough, Chicago, cough—who could slide him in easily under the guise that Mariota is a high-quality backup and develop him into a weapon under center who could take over when the starter falters.”
Matt Nagy has the tools that fit Mariota well
Has Mariota been a disappointment? Yes. He underachieved considerably from the expectations he brought with him from Oregon as a Heisman trophy winner. That said, his problems in Tennessee were hardly his fault. In five seasons as a starter, he was forced to play under three different head coaches and four different offensive coordinators. To say nothing of how inadequate his weaponry was for most of that time period as well. He never really had a chance.
Even then, Mariota had his bright moments. He threw 26 touchdowns to just nine interceptions in 2016. He performed really well in the 2017 playoffs the next year, engineering an 18-point comeback over Nagy’s Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round. It’s not like the guy can’t play football. The big question is whether he can play with more efficiency.
One could argue the Bears run a type of offense that fits his skill set far better than anything the Titans ever ran. It loves to use the spread and puts the QB in shotgun with lots of RPO concepts. Things he could do in his sleep during his time at Oregon. Perhaps without the pressure of being a high draft choice on his shoulders anymore, Mariota might embrace the challenge of chasing Trubisky in Chicago.