Written by: John Stocco
Going into year three of being an NFL quarterback, and Mitch Trubisky is still someone who everyone is unsure about. He’s sort of like Dak Prescott. You either think he’s a franchise quarterback, or you think he’s average at best and will be in the league for 15 years spending the last seven as a veteran backup. That’s not only the talk around NFL twitter, it’s the talk around Chicago. Even in Chicago there are people who think he’s great and others that think he’s not good enough. I’m sure people are going to read the title of this article, question it, and laugh. That’s the story of being a Chicago Bears quarterback and that’s the story of fans defending a Chicago Bears quarterback. We’re going to dig into the development of Mitch Trubisky comparing his 2017 season to his 2018 season, and we’re going to discuss the heights Trubisky can reach in 2019.
Mitch Trubisky 2017/2018 Season Stats:
The improvement was obvious, and even the advanced passing numbers are on his side. Where 100 is the average, Trubisky was over the 100 mark in all but one passing category.
Trubisky’s rookie numbers are comparable to Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, and in 2017 if you got your hands on a copy of the Bears offensive game plan it would look like this: “run, run, pass.” That’s all. The Chicago Bears offense was such a complete mess. From the players on the field, to the play calling on the sidelines, the Bears in 2017 was no different than a high school offense.
2018 is when it all changed. They brought in Matt Nagy who’s the complete opposite of a conservative play caller, and general manager Ryan Pace brought in reinforcements for Mitch Trubisky by signing Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Super Bowl champion Trey Burton, and drafting Anthony Miller out of Memphis. Trubisky doesn’t get enough credit for how much he improved last season. Sure there is still plenty of room for improvement, but this is the opposite of what happened in Los Angeles. Sean McVay was brought in to simplify the game for Jared Goff. McVay wasn’t just looked at as a magical play caller, he was hired to be an extra pair of eyes for Goff. Nagy wasn’t brought in to simplify anything for Trubisky. He was hired to help fix Trubisky’s mechanics, and add creativity to an offense that was ready to explode.
Mitch Trubisky in 2018 was adjusting to life in the NFL in his second year while learning a completely new, and complicated system. How complicated? It took Patrick Mahomes an entire year to learn while sitting behind Alex Smith. Trubisky needed to learn on the fly with all new weapons. In 2019 he will have a full year of learning Nagy’s system under his belt, while also having a full year of being familiar with the personnel surrounding him. Last season wasn’t a perfect one for Mitch Trubisky. There were throws that he made that cost the Bears games, and there were throws he didn’t make that cost the Bears games, but if 2018 showed us anything it showed two things. Mitch Trubisky is one of the most balanced quarterbacks in the NFL, and Mitch Trubisky is a quarterback that can win big games in this league.
Improvement in 2018:
Anticipation: This comes with getting familiar with your receivers. Knowing their tendencies, and knowing how they run certain routes. As the season progressed Trubisky looked a lot comfortable and he showed a better feel for the offense, a better feel for his receivers, and more importantly a better feel for the game.
Ball placement: Trubisky is an accurate passer. His 66.6% completion percentage was better than Mahomes, Goff, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady. Trubisky showed that he can make throws in the clutchest situations. Last season Trubisky put the ball in spots that made it possible for his receivers to make bigger plays after the catch. Going back and watching that Wild Card game against the Eagles, Mitch Trubisky made three clutch throws that put the Bears in a position to win the football game. The beautiful pass to Allen Robinson in the endzone to put the Bears ahead, hitting Taylor Gabriel in the numbers on the curl route, and down 16-15 in the fourth quarter, Trubisky found Allen Robinson again on the corner route and Trubisky puts the ball in a place where only Allen Robinson can make the catch. Ball placement is what can separate Trubisky from most quarterbacks in this league.
Pocket Awareness: This is where Trubisky can be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in football. Trubisky has a good feel for his surroundings. He’s exceptional out of the pocket as Trubisky ran for 29 first downs. Trubisky is too quick and too athletic to stay in the pocket and when he takes off he will continue to deflate defenses.
What he needs to improve in 2019:
Not trying to do too much: Too many times last year Trubisky tried forcing a lot of passes. I don’t mind quarterbacks being more aggressive than usual because the risk is worth the reward. On the flip side when you have wheels like Trubisky you want to see him utilize those wheels instead of making a mistake that changes the entire landscape of a game.
Pre-snap recognition: This is something Matt Nagy pointed out at the season-ending press conference. Trubisky saw a decrease in completion percentage when facing the blitz. His completion percentage dropped 12% compared to Goff’s 6.9% and Matt Ryan’s 6.3%. Improvement in pre-snap recognition will come with experience.
Deep throws: Trubisky is an accurate quarterback, but he couldn’t find any success when he threw for more than 25 yards. Anywhere from the line of scrimmage to 20 yards, Trubisky is very good. 10 yards from the line of scrimmage Trubisky was 82%, 10-20 yards Trubisky was 54%, and while going deep he was only 38%.
In 2019, you’re going to see a quarterback who’s comfortable in a complicated system with a better feel for the talent around him. His leadership qualities, the obsession he has to get better, his playmaking ability with his legs, and his composure to make perfect throws in clutch situations. Mitch Trubisky is a franchise quarterback and this season, it’s not only going to be about the defense, but it’s also going to be about the quarterback making another huge leap in his career getting that much closer to bringing the Super Bowl back to Chicago.