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Bear(ing) Down; Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie season in review

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An in-depth comparison of rookie seasons between Mitchell Trubisky and other veteran QBs around the league.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Plenty of hype was created when the Bears formally announced that Mitchell Trubisky wll take over as their starting QB in week five against the Vikings. While the game didn’t end in the Bears’ favor, it showcased the potential that the young QB has in becoming a franchise gunslinger. In twelve combined starts for the remainder of the 2017 season, he would set new franchise records for yards and completions for a rookie QB. Those marks were formerly owned by Kyle Orton, back in 2005. Not bad, right?

Well, that part is up for debate. Yes, his season was historic for the Bears. The records themselves weren’t exactly hard for modern QBs to reach, in comparison to other franchises. As a result of that, an interesting question has emerged. Just how good was Trubisky in his rookie season, in comparison to the rookie seasons by some of the more notable and active veterans?

To start, here is Trubisky’s statline for his rookie season.

12 starts, 2,193 yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs, 59.4 completion percentage, 77.5 passer rating.

In my comparisons, I am selecting players that meet the following criteria. First, they must still be projected as starters in the NFL. I’m not looking to include confirmed busts, as there are far too many reasons why such unfortunate circumstances occur. Also, I’m looking to compare players who have started within their rookie seasons. So, players like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Jimmy Garappolo will not be included in this list.

I’m also looking strictly at their stats as a passer, and not including their rushing totals. My reasoning for that, is because a QB’s primary responsibility is to sling the rock when needed. Plus, it would take some substantial time to go through everyone’s game tape to differentiate between scrambles and designed QB runs.

With those prerequisites established, let’s take a peek and see how Trubisky stacks up against his peers.

Matthew Stafford - 10 starts, 2,267 yards, 13 TDs, 20 INTs, 53.3 completion percentage, 61.0 passer rating.

Ben Roethlisberger - 13 starts (14 total games), 2,621 yards, 17 TDs, 11 INTs, 66.4 completion percentage, 98.1 passer rating.

Kirk Cousins - 1 start (3 total games), 466 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 68.8 completion percentage, 101.6 passer rating.

Cam Newton - 16 starts, 4,051 yards, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, 60.0 completion percentage, 84.5 passer rating.

Jameis Winston - 16 starts, 4,042 yards, 22 TDs, 15 INTs, 58.3 completion percentage, 84.2 passer rating.

Alex Smith - 7 starts (9 total games), 875 yards, 1 TD, 11 INTs, 50.9 completion percentage, 40.8 passer rating.

Eli Manning - 7 starts (9 total games), 1,043 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs, 48.2 completion percentage, 55.4 passer rating.

Jared Goff - 7 starts, 1,089 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs, 54.6 completion percentage, 63.9 passer rating.

Carson Wentz - 16 starts, 3,782 yards, 16 TDs, 14 INTs, 62.4 completion percentage, 79.3 passer rating.

Russell Wilson - 16 starts, 3,118 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs, 64.1 completion percentage, 100.0 passer rating.

Andrew Luck* - 16 starts, 4,374 yards, 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1 completion percentage, 76.5 passer rating.

Blake Bortles - 13 starts (14 total games), 2,908 yards, 11 TDs, 17 INTs, 58.9 completion percentage, 69.5 passer rating.

Derek Carr - 16 starts, 3,270 yards, 21 TDs, 12 INTs, 58.1 completion percentage, 76.6 passer rating.

And now, for the sake of having a little fun, let’s take a peek as to how the other 2017 draft picks at QB fared during their rookie seasons.

Deshaun Watson - 6 starts (7 total games), 1,699 yards, 19 TDs, 8 INTs, 61.8 completion percentage, 103.0 passer rating.

Patrick Mahomes - 1 start, 284 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 62.9 completion percentage, 76.4 passer rating.

DeShone Kizer** - 15 starts, 2,894 yards, 11 TDs, 22 INTs, 53.6 completion percentage, 60.5 passer rating.

Nathan Peterman*** - 2 starts (4 total games), 252 yards, 2 TDs, 5 INTs, 49.0 completion percentage, 38.4 passer rating.

Notes

1(*) - It is currently unknown what Andrew Luck’s status will be for the upcoming season.

2(**) - Pending any changes, the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers have reached an agreement which includes Kizer being sent to Green Bay, where he will most likely be a back-up.

3(***) - The Buffalo Bills are expected to move in a different direction at QB, and Peterman will likely be delegated as the backup.

Observations

When looking at all the numbers, several points stand out. First, and foremost, young players are expected to contribute right away. Which explains the insane numbers with players like Winston, Luck, and Newton. Where Trubisky didn’t exactly set the world on fire, he wasn’t exactly terrible, either. His rookie season is considerably better than either Eli Manning’s or Jared Goff’s.

More or less, his debut season is right in the middle when compared to the other QBs who started during their rookie years. Which, by all accounts, could actually be a good thing. It’s also fairly important to note that the scheme Trubisky played within hindered his stats, as John Fox felt the need to limit his attempts per game. That will certainly not be the case under Matt Nagy, with a much greater amount of aggressiveness to be expected in the passing game.

There are obviously a few mechanical issues that Trubisky has to work on. Every young QB needs time to polish and tweak their game. And yet, despite being so limited in his options within the game plans themselves, we’ve seen him flash his potential several times throughout the year. It will also help his cause after the Bears went out and signed multiple veteran weapons in the likes of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel. And that, is something we all should be very excited about. The 2018 season will be huge for Biscuit’s development.

It’s being reflected in the numbers. If Ryan Pace’s plan comes to fruition, then we could finally see the end of the Bears’ multi-generational search for their franchise QB.