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Mitch Trubisky: A Compliment Sandwich

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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Sometimes, it almost seems like Chicago is cursed to have polarizing Quarterbacks for all eternity. Rex Grossman. Kyle Orton. Brian Hoyer. Jay Cutler. Mike Glennon (OK. Maybe not Glennon). And now, Mitch Trubisky. Half of Bears fans are remaining patient with the youngster, believing he’ll develop into a franchise QB with more experience. The other half believe he’s complete trash that is incapable of developing into a competent starter in the NFL. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In light of that polarization, we’re going to have a quick look at his tape (and that of one Patrick Mahomes), and have an honest, yet delicate conversation using a management technique known as the Compliment Sandwich. For those unfamiliar, you offer a compliment, then a critique, and then another compliment. The goal, is to deliver criticism in a more palatable way, with the goal that it will be accepted more easily than straight criticism. And yes, I learn all my business etiquette from Family Guy. We don’t all have MBAs, ya know!

This is far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully we can take an objective look at his play, point out the good, point out the bad, and everyone can find some common ground. Or I’ll just piss off everyone equally. Honestly, that’s probably more likely. We’ll find out soon enough.

Sandwich 1

Compliment

Trubisky has thrown some excellent tight window passes. When he knows where he’s going, and has time to set his feet, he can deliver very accurate balls.

Critique

Though it wasn’t a completion, this was also a good tight window throw with excellent ball placement. However, both Howard AND Miller were open in the flats for much easier completions with a yard after the catch potential that Burton didn’t have. So this is a failure of vision more than execution.

Compliment

For as good as Patrick Mahomes looks (and he does look good), he hasn’t been asked to throw into many tight windows through two games. His receivers consistently get excellent separation (90% open throw rate beyond the LOS, meaning a step or more of separation, by far the best in the league), which is a luxury Trubisky hasn’t been afforded often. This makes some of the comparisons between the two a bit tougher to judge:

Sandwich 2

Compliment

This back shoulder fade to Allen Robinson is a thing of beauty. He’s clearly capable of putting touch on intermediate and deep passes when he’s comfortable. This ball couldn’t have been placed anywhere else and been caught.

Critique

This ATTEMPTED back shoulder fade to Allen Robinson is the exact opposite of a thing of beauty. The pocket held for 4 seconds, he went through his progressions calmly, but by the time he realized Robinson had a step on the defender, the pocket was shrinking and he hurried the throw. The lack of drive caused it to fall well short, and, you know the rest. Speeding up his recognition would help this a lot.

Compliment

This floater to Cohen was really nice. He nearly threw to him on the hitch route early, but pulled it back when Cohen lost his footing a bit. Immediately after, the pressure started to get close, so he wiggled out to get some space. He continued to look down field while drifting to his right, and put up a nice 25 air yarder to an ad libbing Cohen who turned his hitch route into an elongated hitch n’ go.

Sandwich 3

Compliment

This touchdown pass to Anthony Miller is fantastic. He’s rolling to his left, sees Miller come open, and delivers a strike that travels 20 yards through the air with a guy in his face. It’s the kind of play you want your QB to be able to make in the redzone to help close out a game (someone needs to get Miller a dance instructor though, because, damn).

Critique

This throw into coverage in the endzone was... not good on, like, a bunch of levels. First, he had Gabriel open in the endzone for basically, the ENTIRE play. Just look at him, standing there, all alone at the top of the screen. He seemed to look in his direction for a moment, but was flushed by the pressure from the edge. He escaped it and rolled to his left, but never really reset. So when he FINALLY went to Gabriel (or Cohen, by this time they were both in the vicinity), the ball was very low. Had he set his feet and drove the ball, he could have placed it over the defenders heads where only Gabriel had a shot at it (or simply looked his way at the beginning of the play). This SHOULD have been a TD. Instead, it was nearly a pick.

Compliment

Tyreek Hill catches this ball. Not that it was a particularly wise throw from either QB, but none the less, this shows some of the differences between Trubisky and Mahomes respective situations, and why comparisons between the two need to keep context in mind.

Sandwich 4

Compliment

In just his 3rd pass of the season, Trubisky delivered a nice ball to Gabriel on a deep out. The ball traveled 28 yards in the air, and the play wound up going for 31 yards total. Another sign that when he knows where he’s going, and feels comfortable, he can deliver deep and intermediate passes with force and accuracy.

Critique

All these overthrows. Not good. Not good at all. Gotta settle down, set your feet and drive the ball young man.

Compliment

Trubisky isn’t alone in sailing the ball. Mahomes has more than a few overthrows as well. All Qbs over throw receivers occasionally, especially young ones. So both these guys should see these things clean up with experience.


There now, don’t we all feel better? We got some constructive criticism out there for the bad, while softening the blow with praise for the good. There’s plenty that needs worked on, but in this world of hot takes and twitter rage, we shouldn’t lose sight of the positives. Obviously there are reasons for concern, but there’s more than enough promise to build off of here for MT10... so lets all try and keep some perspective moving forward.

Every errant pass doesn’t make him trash, and every rifle shot into a tight window doesn’t make him an all-pro. He’s simply a young QB, in a new offense, learning on the job. We should all expect inconsistency at least for a while. In the mean time, we should endeavor to keep our hot takes luke warm, and try and enjoy the ride. Just remember, you don’t get extra points if your predictions about Trubisky come true, so try not to fall victim to defending a preconceived belief regardless of what is actually happening. No one cares if you were right in July, no matter which way you leaned. If he does something good, praise him. If he does something bad, chide him. Don’t simply wait for something to happen that fits your pre-arranged narrative, and pounce.

And, as always, remember the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: Be excellent to each other.

(Note: Writing isn’t particularly my thing, so you shouldn’t expect a TON of non-graphics related articles from me. I do, however, occasionally have an idea pop into my head that I feel compelled to jot down, grammar mistakes and all. This just happened to be one of those times.)

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