The Chicago Bears are in the midst of a quarterback crisis. Most will put this on starter Mitch Trubisky. No surprise given the slow start he’s had to 2019. No touchdown passes in two games and averaging less than 200 yards passing. Not ideal. However, it’s not just him. The preseason was also a sobering reminder of how weak they are at the backup position. Chase Daniel is a smart veteran who’s been around a long time but his physical limitations are impossible to miss.
This puts GM Ryan Pace in a tough spot. Trubisky will remain the starter for this season, but if he keeps struggling then what? Resources for 2020 aren’t exactly plentiful. The Bears will be tight against the salary cap so signing a top veteran would be difficult. They also don’t have a 1st round pick so they’d have to hope they could find one in the 2nd round. A venture that isn’t always the most fruitful in recent years.
So what can he do? Well, Pace has been known to attack such problems with a sort of “carpet bomb” approach. That is to say, bringing in multiple pieces to a position at the same time and letting competition weed out the weak. It certainly worked at kicker this past offseason. Chicago brought in 10 different legs until Eddy Pineiro emerged victorious. Why can’t they do the same at quarterback?
Part of this strategy though means acquiring certain assets for cheap. Players with upside who might be overlooked. One name that is dangling out there for the Bears to grab if they wish is Kyle Lauletta.
Chicago Bears have win-win situation by giving Lauletta a chance
Most people know Lauletta today as a former New York Giants 4th round pick. He went to school at Richmond University where he started three seasons, throwing for over 10,000 yards with 71 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. His coming-out party came at the Senior Bowl down in Alabama last year where he threw for 198 yards and three scores.
Perhaps most interesting is the admirers he gained in the process. Among the most prominent was Ernie Accorsi. The former Giants GM and man who helped the Chicago Bears find Pace has a long track record of success with quarterbacks. John Elway, Bernie Kosar, and Eli Manning are the major highlights of his long NFL career. The guy knows the position.
So what he had to say about Lauletta after the draft was rather telling.
“The steal of their draft might be a quarterback — Kyle Lauletta from Richmond,” Accorsi said. “That kid walks into the Senior Bowl … and I know the Senior Bowl is like an all-star game. Yet with all those big names he walks away with the MVP award.
“The only thing he does not have is a howitzer. But neither did Montana. Neither did Garopplo. Neither did Brady when he came out. You can increase arm strength. But he’s got everything else. He’s got footwork. He’s got the great release. He’s a winner. He’s taken teams down the field (in the last two minutes).
“I know the coach at Albany said when the game was over, ‘He beat me in the fourth quarter two straight years. I went over to him to make sure he has no eligibility left.’ I really think that was a great pick.”
People will argue he was dead wrong about that assessment but was he? Lauletta was only with the team for one season. He never got a legitimate opportunity to play because of the whole Eli Manning fiasco. Then when the Giants drafted Daniel Jones 6th overall last April, it was clear he was never going to get a shot. So they cut him. This despite Lauletta finishing the preseason with four touchdowns and no interceptions, a substantial sign of improvement from the previous year.
Adding further fuel to this is where he landed next.
The Philadelphia Eagles were quick to pounce on Lauletta for their practice squad after the Giants cut him. This is a team that’s had a strong track record with quarterbacks under GM Howie Roseman for some time. Nick Foles and Carson Wentz are his two big hits to date. There isn’t a lot to dislike about Lauletta. Draft reports on him were glowing. All anybody could find to complain about him was his limited arm strength.
“Heralded by scouts as a team leader and elected team captain twice. Production saw major spike over the last two seasons. Uses eyes to move linebackers out of his passing lanes on slants and curls. Won’t automatically dump throws down to backs. Willing to let route combinations progress while climbing and sliding away from heat. Has experience from shotgun, pistol and under center. Footwork is smooth in play-action and setup. Comfortable throwing on the move. Gets it out early on timing throws.”
Is he the Chicago Bears saving grace? Impossible to say. The point is he’s a potential worthwhile option they can bring in for cheap. Signing a player off a practice squad doesn’t cost much. Lauletta is 24-years old and has a skill set that can make this offense work.