We (the public) have now seen Mitchell Trubiksy for three days at Olivet Nazarene University and he had another practice that only the media was allowed to see on Friday. Tuesday’s practice was a media only day as well, but with several of the veterans having the day off, there’s not much to glean from that one.
Reports from Friday’s practice were that Trubisky looked good running the offense, so taking them at their word, and going off of what our guys that were in camp have reported, I’ll sum up Trubisky’s first four practices like this.
- Friday: Looked good
- Saturday: Solid
- Sunday: Inconsistent
- Monday: Inconsistent, but better than Sunday
I know some fans see a few Tweets about Trubisky underthrowing a deep ball, getting intercepted, or having a ball batted away and they want to panic, but if you wade through all the Tweets you’ll find more positive than negative. That’s not to say that there’s shouldn’t be a concern about his play so far, I’m just saying that it’s only been a few days of practice so chill out.
I also want you guys to consider the level of competition he’s facing. We aren’t talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here, we’re talking about the best damn defense in the NFL. We’re talking All-Pro’s Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Khalil Mack, and Pro Bowler Akiem Hicks. We’re talking established veterans Prince Amukamara, Danny Trevathan, and Eddie Goldman. We’re also talking about an up and coming superstar in Roquan Smith.
The defense is usually ahead of the offense early in camp, because the defense is all reactionary while the offense is timing based. If Chicago’s O was shredding the D, then I’d be concerned and buy into the regression crap that some analysts want you to believe. But since it’s the offense that’s trying to find their way after four days, I’m not ready to get push the panic button.
Chuck Pagano’s defense is a different animal than what Trubisky saw from Vic Fangio his first two camps. Pagano is giving more pre-snap things for Trubisky to think through, plus he’s bringing the blitz; a lot.
All this will help him and the offense get better and prepare them for the season. “It’s just a challenge every single day,” Trubisky said on Monday after practice via the Chicago Sun Times. “You’ve got to embrace that as a competitor. And we’re just pushing each other on both sides of the ball.
“We know our defense is going to get us on some plays, but as an offense, if they stop us, or they have a positive play on defense, it’s got to be a next-play mentality. Because we know we can bounce them or get them the next play. Or, if it’s a drill, they get us one drill, and that happens. Drill behind — they won that one. Let’s go and get them the next time.”
When I was at camp (7/28) I saw some of the same issues with Trubisky’s deep ball that everyone else has. He was missing short. A few of these could have been back shoulder throws, but usually when a QB lofts the ball high, he’s not trying to pinpoint it back shoulder. He could have been trying to get air under it so his wide outs could go up and get it, which Allen Robinson II did do when I was there, but it looked to me like he just wasn’t getting enough oompf on his deep passes.
But his short to intermediate throws had plenty of zip on them. He was inconsistent the day I was there, but he ended the day on a high note. He completed pass after pass in the final session of the day, and overall, the entire offense seems more in sync. They were getting up and set quicker than a year ago, and there were times when Trubisky was able to move his guys around and check into something else.
I reached out to a few of my colleagues to share their takes on Trubisky. Both Robert Schmitz and Patti Curl were at all three days of open practices, and Ken Mitchell was at the first two.
Here’s what Ken had to say.
On Saturday, I was mostly watching the offensive and defensive lines, outside and inside linebackers and the tight end groups. During the scrimmages, I thought Mitch was a lot sharper than he was last year in every aspect of the game.
On Sunday, I mostly watched the quarterbacks, running backs and wide outs, and Mitch overall wasn’t as sharp in pads as he was the day before, but he was still sharper than last season.
Of course, all of the talk has been about Mitch under throwing his receivers on the deep outs, and it’s true, he was. It was almost as if he were trying to throw back shoulder for some reason (not a situation where you would really do that). The thing that got me wondering, however, is not only was he appearing to underthrow those routes, he was doing it consistently. It wasn’t a problem of lack of velocity or arm strength, it was just a location that was consistently short of where one would expect the ball to be thrown.
I only saw one real duck, and that baby was a true quicker that ended in an Eddie Jackson pick on Sunday.
The crossing routes, dump offs, short outs, medium and deep outs? Massive improvement.
Not only was Mitch making completions, he was throwing the ball to locations where the receivers were able to make football moves after catching the rock.
Overall, his completion percentage was very high on every route but the deep outs, and I expect he’s going to have a higher completion percentage this year over last.
Want to know a few names Mitch’s completion percentage was ahead of last year? Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson Jared Goff and Aaron Rodgers. All five of those guys were Pro-Bowlers, and one was league MVP.
Look, I’m not trying to say Mitch is better than any of those guys, what I am saying is that Mitch is getting bashed for being an inaccurate quarterback while having a higher completion percentage than most of the Pro Bowlers in a year where completion percentage set records league wide.
Personally I’m much more concerned about can Mitch move the offense with the weapons at hand, and can he score, while limiting turnovers. So far this year, he’s moved the offense well in practice. We’ll have to see what we see when we start playing other teams.
Ken brings up a good point about the accuracy. While Trubisky did have a 66.6% completion clip, he could have placed the ball better for his receivers to get more yards after the catch. I expect his knowledge and familiarity in year two his overall placement will be improved.
Here’s what Patti had to say about Trubisky.
Overall, Trubisky met my expectations at camp. If his first day had come last, I’d probably be more excited: Saturday he made quick, effective decisions and threw consistently accurate--though at times imperfect--passes. He hit more bumps on Sunday and Monday, throwing a pick each day and making more poor decisions throwing to egregiously covered receivers. Overall, he showed a good command of the offense. Successful plays were the norm, which his why the bad ones stuck out. I think we’re going to see a lot less of the frustrating misfires that kept Chicago’s cardiologists in business last season.
The bad plays are the ones that get retweeted on Twitter and brought up by other fan bases. They are the ones that stick with us because we’re so concerned with him taking that next step. But I’m with Patti, during a day of throwing he only had a handful of bad balls.
And finally here’s Robert’s take on the three days.
Trubisky this season is a very funny case. Bears fans have told themselves that he needs to be a revelation, so his generally-improved camp performance so far (compared to 2017) has managed to underwhelm the lofty expectations placed on him. While his issue with under throwing deep balls is present, his short-to-medium balls have been consistent, well placed, and timely. He also seems to have sped up his pre-snap processing, which is key for audibling at the line. Ultimately he looks as if he’s built on his end-of-season play from last year and looks to be set for the common Nagy/Reid year 2 bump.
Speaking of that year two bump, you can read all about it in my article, What should we expect from Trubisky is his second year of the Nagy offense.
The Bears are off on Wednesday, then will be back at it on Thursday morning in a practice that is open to the public. And just like many of you guys, I’m sure I’ll be hanging on every Tweet about Trubisky that day too, but I’m not going to start panicking.