5 greatest what-ifs in NFL history

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(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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1. Biggest NFL what-ifs: What if the Bears drafted Mahomes or Watson over Trubisky?

The Chicago Bears went into the 2019 NFL season with high expectations. In 2018, the Bears were 12-4 and fielded the league’s most dominant defense, leading all teams in points allowed rushing yards allowed, and yards per pass attempt allowed.

They had one of the league’s premier pass rushers in Khalil Mack, having acquired him from the Oakland Raiders in a trade that offseason and a voracious secondary led by Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson with 36 passes defended and 13 interceptions between them.

Only a major problem at kicker held the Bears back, as they tumbled out of the postseason after a crushing “double-doink” missed field goal from Cody Parkey.

It seemed like the NFC North was the Bears’ to lose, and they were among the Super Bowl favorites. But the 2019 season, with all its expectations, turned into an unmitigated disaster for the Bears.

Chicago finished the year with an 8-8 record, and while they once again fielded an unquestionably top-five defense, they were 29th in the league in points scored, yards gained, and rushing yards per attempt. Worse yet, they were dead last in yards per pass attempt.

The culprit for their struggles? None other than quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. A year after he posted an encouraging season with a 95.4 QB Rating and some incredibly athletic runs, the young quarterback looked like a lost cause. He averaged 6.1 yards per pass attempt and could scarcely move the ball forward for the offense, wasting a strong supporting cast, specifically all-world wideout Allen Robinson.

After watching Trubisky single-handedly prevent the Bears from building on a 12-4 season, the organization swiftly moved on by acquiring a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in the 2020 offseason. Nick Foles has never been a star quarterback and owns one of the league’s worst contracts, but even he looks like a substantial upgrade on Trubisky.

What makes this situation even more bitter for Chicago fans, however, is the “what if” question that will never cease. Because the Bears had the pick of any quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft with the second overall pick, as the Cleveland Browns chose pass rusher, Myles Garrett.

They could have drafted star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who won the National Championship and has gone on to be a borderline top-five quarterback for the Houston Texans. Watson was picked 12th. Better yet, they could have selected Patrick Mahomes, who won the NFL MVP in 2018 as a first-year starter before winning the Super Bowl in his second season.

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Instead, the Bears took Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick, even though Trubisky was far less experienced and far less impressive in college than Mahomes and Watson. And in the NFL, the gap has only widened. It’s a decision Ryan Pace and Bears fans will probably regret for decades to come.