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Which quarter was Mitchell Trubisky best in during games?

Did Trubisky overthink things in his first year of the Matt Nagy offense? The numbers seem to indicate he did.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he displayed some inconsistency during the 2019 season, Chicago Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did breakout during his first year in Matt Nagy’s complicated offense. I know there are some that would like to tell you that he regressed in his second year as a pro, but that’s a bunch of malarkey. He’s grown as a player and he’s grown as a team leader with this franchise since the day he was drafted.

His regular season averages went up across the board during his sophomore season. His completion percentage went up 7.2 percentage points, his yards per game went up 47.4 yards, and his touchdown percentage went up 3.4% points. He also saw year two increases in passer rating, ESPN’s QBR, yards per attempt, rushing yards per game, and to be fair, interception percentage.

In the recent Brett Kollmann video we shared here at WCG, he talked about how Trubisky looks like he plays tight when he’s forced to think, but plays better when he’s in clutch situations with only time to react and make plays. He even dug up this late game stat when comparing Trubisky to the RamsJared Goff.

Young players playing better when not overthinking isn’t unheard of, so I wanted to check out the stats to see what Trubisky’s passer rating looked like on a quarter by quarter basis.

We all know that the first several plays in a West Coast system, the type of system that the Bears run, are scripted. Bill Walsh, the legendary 49ers head coach that created the West Coast Offense and taught it to Mike Holmgren, who then taught it to Andy Reid, who then taught it to Nagy, used to script 25 plays for each game. Nagy also scripts the opening of each game, so it’s logical to think that his first quarter passer rating would be fairly high.

So to recap, his season passer rating last year was 16th highest at 95.4 among qualifying QBs.

For the quarter splits I’m including any quarterbacks that attempted at least 50 passes in a quarter.

  • During first quarters in 2018 Trubisky put up a passer rating of 111.7, which was 5th highest in the league.

This fits the ‘don’t over think it’ narrative since Trubisky spends the week preparing to run Nagy’s scripted plays, and come game time he has a familiarity with the calls.

  • During second quarters his passer rating drops all the way down to 23rd overall at 85.6.

With the script exhausted, Nagy and Trubisky are trying to get a feel for the game. In the first year of the system the plays weren’t ingrained into Trubisky’s muscle memory yet, so he’s forced to think about what calls are coming in, his presnap read, the pass protection, his adjustments, the adjustments from his receivers, and all that thinking slows down his reaction time.

  • For the third quarter Trubisky’s passer rating was 19th in the NFL at 88.7.

A slight bump from Trubisky in the third could be attributed to him taking some time to collect his thoughts and take a breath in the locker room, then again, it’s not a very significant increase.

  • In the fourth quarter Trubisky is only up to 17th overall, but his passer rating shoots up to a 95.7.

So, the ‘don’t overthink it’ narrative comes back into play. The fourth was Trubisky’s second best overall quarter, and as Kollmann indicated above, Trubisky was money in the last seven minutes of a game, which is the time when the quarterback is just slinging it to get his team in position to win or ice the game.

I won’t bother with overtime stats because he completed his only OT pass for 5 yards in Miami.

Trubisky not only had to learn a new system in 2018 after playing in John Fox’s run, run, pass, punt offense as a rookie, but he had to get used to playing with a slew of new offensive players too. In 2019 his comfort has already grown with the system, with what his head coach expects from him, and with his teammates.

He’s had an excellent offseason so far and he looks to build on that during training camp.

“You can feel his (Trubisky’s) confidence growing. Chemistry, continuity . . . that’s going to continue as we go forward,” general manager Ryan Pace said yesterday via the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s a naturally accurate thrower, and I think as you play longer in this offense and that timing comes into fruition, you get used to these receivers, you develop a chemistry with them, the touch goes into those throws.”

Trubisky is now able to process the play calls as he hears them without having to think about every little detail. His understanding of the offense will allow him to think less and react more, and that will make him a better football player.