No one rightly knows whether the Chicago Bears 2017 No. 2 overall pick in Mitchell Trubisky will be a legitimate franchise quarterback. The 2017 NFL Draft will likely be forever remembered for this question surrounding Trubisky. One idea is certain though: Both he and his general manager in Ryan Pace are men of confidence.
Disregard that a player with only 13 career college starts has a lot to learn as a professional passer. Said player in Trubisky even knows as much from first glance. He has to start taking snaps from under center, learn the nuances of defensive schemes and coverages, and even eventually take full charge as a leader of men.
Not an easy task for anyone, but it’s one of a long-term belief in time from those in power in Chicago that he’ll persevere. Because in the end, you also can’t say Trubisky is absolutely destined to fail.
The history of successful one-year college starters isn’t great in the NFL, but the process behind developing them has always been muddled. It’s always been rushed and shaken along before it could pay off. Essentially, the typical NFL way of a lack of patience and proper detail as per tradition. Chicago, at least for now, is going to be patient in direct contrast with Trubisky.
In that light, Trubisky himself understands the history behind players like him and the obstacles he has to overcome. It doesn’t mean he isn’t ready for the challenge, even as is he isn’t likely to be named the Bears’ outright starter at any point in 2017.
“Yeah, the competitor in you definitely wants to play right away,” Trubisky said at his introductory press conference Friday. “But, there’s positives and negatives to playing right away and sitting behind someone. You gotta learn the from the guy from in front of you, learn from their mistakes, and also what they do well.”
That guy the 22-year-old Trubisky is talking about is Bears’ free agent acquisition Mike Glennon, who was always brought in to be Chicago’s “bridge” guy. That’s whether Glennon wanted to believe in what the Bears were selling as he reportedly felt “cheated on” after they drafted a young quarterback.
Glennon is the man who will receive an opportunity to start and prove himself, but ultimately is only keeping Trubisky’s seat warm in all likelihood, should he flourish or even play average in 2017 (as a trade chip, perhaps?). For the Bears and their now clear fleshed-out quarterback plan: they always had this ideal in mind, too.
They greatly understood the concerns behind their new North Carolina product in inexperience but also didn’t want to lose out on his tremendous upside in their mind. Trubisky was general manager Ryan Pace’s “guy.” The man he wanted to stick his career out on and the full-out covert operation conducted to draft him signifies that. An operation so successful that even Trubisky was “shocked” by the selection.
Pace couldn’t stop glowing at the heist to trade up that he believes he pulled off.
“I just don’t want to be average around here, I want to be great,” Pace said after Trubisky’s presser. “If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands.”
To Pace, it doesn’t matter what haul he gave to slide up one slot from No. 3 and draft Trubisky - which ultimately amounted to giving up just a third-round pick in the end. This is someone he believes can lead the Bears to the promised land, so he wasn’t going to leave it to chance that someone else could’ve snatched Trubisky up. If Pace’s quarterback pans out, no one will remember said third-round pick. No one should remember it now.
“Once you have conviction on a guy, you’ve got to be aggressive and do it,” said Pace of his jarring trade. On that note, fascinatingly enough, the general manager has done such a thing twice now. And it’s perhaps because he’s learned a valuable lesson from the past.
In 2015, the Bears missed out on the New York Jets’ Leonard Williams by one slot, who went to New York at No. 6 overall. This was a pass rusher Chicago was reportedly very high on. Williams flourished in 2016 and made his first career Pro Bowl. Instead, Chicago drafted a receiver in Kevin White, who has been plagued by leg injuries to start his journey.
So in retrospect, a year older made Pace a year wiser. To the point that when it was believed the New York Giants would draft Leonard Floyd at No. 10 overall in 2016, the general manager swung a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to jump the Giants and snag his own franchise pass rusher. The mistakes of the past in sitting patiently no doubt on Pace’s mind.
One more year, and the cost of a mid-round pick for someone Pace believes will be his defining calling card in Trubisky and he won’t soon let someone slip out of his fingers again. Even if Trubisky was actually going to be there at No. 3 overall, Pace wasn’t going to take that chance because of his mentioned conviction, and that’s commendable.
The Bears under Pace have now addressed and invested resources in the organization’s most historically failing position unlike any regime before. It’s like a multiple choice test and they’ve been given the option of circling two answers that possibly could be correct. A novel, unconventional approach in modern professional football.
Especially for the Bears of all teams, a notorious old-school team in operation.
For Pace, he couldn’t be more ecstatic about offering multiple opportunities to find his franchise guy. To find the player that will either earn him either derision, or praise for decades.
"His potential to be a championship quarterback is all we focused on in this move,” said Pace of his initiative. “I think we've got a really good situation for Mitch to come into and develop the right way."
There’s questions as to whether the Bears do have that good situation for Trubisky, because maybe they don’t. Maybe the staff they possess with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and company isn’t equipped to turn Trubisky into a star.
But at least they’re making sure they hold all the cards should they fail in the end. That said potential future failure, was at least on their own terms instead of settling. It’s bold and completely out of line as to what typical NFL organizations will try, that’s for sure. As he puts the bullseye of criticism on himself and takes the reins of the Bears organization by storm, Pace is steadfast that that boldness will pay off.
As for Trubisky?
He’ll continue driving his beat-up 1997 beige Toyota Camry with 170,000 miles on it (with NFL money, only from time to time now more than likely), and he’ll just continue to plug away. Trubisky’s not going to listen critics of Chicago’s aggressiveness to select him or whether they should’ve at all. He knows what he brings to the table for the Bears could be special.
“I couldn’t imagine myself in a better spot. It’s going to be a perfect fit,” Trubisky said. “When you know, you know, and I have faith in myself.”
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.