Bears try to figure out Bucs’ quarterback options

by Gary Shelton on September 29, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Fitzpatrick expected to start for Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 2 a.m.

(The following conversation may or may not have happened at Bears' camp this week):

Matt Nagy (Bears' coach): Morning, Vic.

Vic Fangio (Bears' defensive coordinator): Morning.

Nagy: So, what are you hearing about the Bucs' quarterback situation?

Fangio: Well, I keep hoping they'll bring back Josh Freeman, you know? Maybe Trent Dilfer. Maybe Vinny Testaverde. Or most quarterbacks they've ever had. Bruce Gradkowski? Jack Thompson? Byron Leftwich? But they're still playing like their quarterback is the Secret Square.

Nagy: So, in your mind, does it make a difference?

Fangio: It doesn't make a bit, man. What? Are they going to run the wishbone with one of them?

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Winston has beaten the Bears twice in a row./CAMERON MANDATO

I'd bet on Fitzpatrick, although he's so old that when he last played the Bears, they were known as the Decatur Staleys. But no, it doesn't matter. Both quarterbacks are pocket passes, both have terrific receivers and both will look just fine to Khalil Mack when he takes aim at them.

Nagy (laughs): I wonder why team's are so secretive. Does that pass for wisdom in today's NFL?

Fangio: I think it's just the feeling of power that comes with knowledge the other guys don't have. But we're going to sack the quarterback when we can, and we're going to stop scrambles when we can, and we're going to intercept the ball when we can.

Nagy: You know, it's a short week. But Winston has always played good against the Bears.

Fangio: Yeah, I know. He's had a rating of 98.2 against us. He's had a 312-yard day and a 295-yard day. He's won the last two games we've played.

Nagy: True, but those aren't the 400-yard days that Old Man River has had this year. I really think that's one of the great stories of the NFL this year. I just hope it doesn't continue against us.

Fangio: Well, it shouldn't. We've played pretty well against the pass. Green Bay got 341 against us in the opener, but Russell Wilson of Seattle had just 226. Last week, Sam Bradford had only 157 of the Cardinals' 193 yards. We've played good defense.

Nagy: So what will it take to beat the Bucs?

Fangio: (Deadpan) I'm sending an Uber to pick up Winston, and the driver is going to stop by to get crab claws.

Nagy: That's funny.

Fangio: I think a key factor, especially if Winston plays, will be our interception-return team. Seriously, the game will come down to pass  rushing against the Bucs. If we get either guy three or four times, and we can make him rush his passes a little, we'll be okay.

Nagy: It's a pretty good group of receivers, though.

Fangio: You bet. They don't call it third-and-Evans for nothing. And DeSean Jackson can still fly. Then the big matchup problem is O.J. Howard. We could use some of those turnovers the Bucs had against the Steelers.

Nagy: It's going to be like playing the two halves of a Twix Bar. There isn't that much difference in them. So what happens if both Fitzpatrick and Winston wear masks? Will we be able to tell them apart?

Fangio: There isn't that much. I think Winston might be a little more susceptible to the big turnover when you think about our rush, and the fact that the guy's sat down for three weeks. I don't care how hard you practice on your own, it isn't the same thing.

Nagy: Well, bear down, Chicago Bears.

Fangio: Yeah. If I'm the Bucs, I'm choosing between the hot guy and the more talented guy. I'd go with the hot hand over the guy who eats his fingers..

Nagy: Well, both of them have made their share of errors in their careers. Winston has 44 interceptions in 45 games. Fitzpatrick has 140 in 136 games. We ought to be able to come up with one or two. We aren't the '86 Bears, but we're pretty good.

Fangio: Yeah, otherwise, it could be a long day.

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