We continue our round-table discussion about the most important player for the Chicago Bears franchise, Mitchell Trubisky, with today’s topic about the development we’ve seen from him so far.
Yesterday we were all in near unanimous agreement that Trubisky is an average quarterback, with the potential to be more, so today we’re talking about some of that potential.
At this point, anyone that is still holding onto the notion that Trubisky is a bad football player is trying to work through some personal biases or they’re PFF truthers. There are inconsistencies he has to work through no doubt, but the franchise, his coaches, and his teammates are all-in on his potential. He’s about to enter his third year as a pro and if you truly can’t see any redeeming qualities in his play or see that his trajectory is on the upswing, then this may not be the article for you.
We asked our writers to answer this question about Mitch Trubisky.
How much development have you seen from him?
For me, I always point to the two Green Bay Packer games from a year ago. In that week one contest Trubisky started out hot, but then faltered down the stretch. Even when things were going good in that game he seemed to have jittery feet and jittery nerves. I’ll never know for sure, but in my opinion, the moment seemed to be too big for him.
But you flash forward to the week 15 game and the Bears had a chance to not only clinch the NFC North, but to also knock the Packers from playoff contention. It was a big game for a franchise that hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2010 and Trubisky rose to the challenge. He played under control, he commanded his offense, and he made plays when he had to.
This second play in the clip below is my favorite play from the 2019 season.
#Packers DC Mike Pettine tried it all vs Trubisky...— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 19, 2018
2, 3, 4 man rushes
Interior Blitzes - Fire X
Slot CB on Zone Pressures
Overload/Bail on 3rd Down
Ball either came out before they could get home or Trubisky managed to escape. https://t.co/vutkbHgQRS pic.twitter.com/nMUeXS6DCI
We won’t know the full affect of him being in the second year of the Matt Nagy offense until week one, but Trubisky had a strong finish to training camp, and his “struggles” were overblown.
Lets check in on several other Windy City Gridiron staffers to see how much development they’ve seen from Trubisky so far.
Robert Zeglinski - I’m old enough to remember—2017, to be exact, and even last season—when Trubisky was a deer in the headlights at the mere sight of extra defensive pressure. That’s no longer the case for a quarterback clearly comfortable with his scheme and team. When he crosses the road now, he’s actively daring the car that forgot to turn on its brights to hit him. Only one of the two is walking out unscathed, and it’s the driver who is going to regret a shattered windshield far more.
Trubisky has established a rapport with his cadre of versatile receivers. He’s earned the respect of his acclaimed defensive superstar teammates— not a menial task. The minute details don’t appear to perturb him. The next step, the only step left, is for this quarterback to become less of a passenger while riding along with a loaded roster.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Enough to give me confidence that he can be the long-awaited answer at quarterback for the Chicago Bears. His progressions have improved from year one to year two. The same goes for his footwork, as he doesn’t make as many back-footed throws in comparison to his first season. Maybe it’s not as much as the “experts” would want, but it’s clear as day he’s more patient with his reads now.
It’s worth mentioning the coaching transition from John Fox to Matt Nagy is about as extreme of a change that any young quarterback could face in the NFL. Think of it like driving a Maserati Alfieri after spending a year driving some old Toyota Camry you inherited from your relatives.
His decision-making has also improved; however, this is the time where we need to see him recognize and stop a bad play before attempting to make the throw. His pump fake was decent when he finally decided to use it last season. Now, if he can make the more challenging throws vertically while cutting down on any “greedy” decisions -- like forcing the ball to the corner of the endzone while a previously unnoticed DB is lurking back in their zone -- he’ll be ready to make himself a name among the top players in his position.
Josh Sunderbruch - I have seen development, and I’ve also seen work put into matching the offense to his strengths. First, he is definitely better than he was in the first season, and he is developing a complete toolkit. Second, though, the offense is actually matched to his strengths and that is helping him to perform better.
Aaron Leming - I would say Trubisky has made quite a bit of development since coming into the league. His processing has sped up a lot, his confidence is actually something to be comfortable with, and his overall command of the offense is at an NFL level. Mechanically, he’s still got a ways to go in the lower body department and that will be big for his consistency down the road, but from a mental aspect, I believe he has made large strides. All you really have to do is thrown on the tape of his first NFL game then compare it to last year’s playoff game or even Week 17 to see how much of an improvement he has made. With that being said, the mechanics and consistent decision making need to follow in 2019.
Sam Householder - Look I can’t pretend to be EJ, Les, Robert or any of our other fantastic film grinders. I am the epitome of an armchair fan; I’ve never played the sport at an organized level and everything I’ve learned is from watching and listening to others. So with that said, yes I’ve seen improvement. The moments never seemed to big for him last year after about the first month. He’s grown more comfortable, he’s reading defenses a little better. But that’s about all I can say, because I don’t know how to break down that stuff to the level to say ‘oh well he can get this much better from here.’ That I don’t know.
Ken Mitchell - I’ve seen Mitchell Trubisky a lot more than your average Bears fan this year, since I attended 30 percent of the training camps open to the public. I’ve seen a huge amount of improvement in some areas, and I’ve seen some areas that are still not where any of us would like him to be. To be fair, we won’t really know until September 5, but I do believe he will move up into the top half of the league in DVOA this season, based upon the speed he was operating in camp (compared to last year).
Jacob Infante - Trubisky’s decision making is generally much better than it was in 2017. He has gotten better at making reads, looking past his first option, and identifying the open man. His processing abilities are much sharper under Matt Nagy than they were under John Fox, and his confidence is apparent on tape. He still makes a few bad decisions from time to time, but the same can be said for essentially every starting quarterback.
His pocket presence has also come a long way since his rookie year. He appears comfortable going through his progressions, his accuracy is unfazed by incoming pressure, and he is not as hesitant to sit back in the pocket and let the play develop instead of running for his life.
Granted, Trubisky’s accuracy still needs a lot of work--which is ironic, considering it was a relative strength of his compared to his fellow 2017 draft classmates coming out of college — and a lot of that stems from his mechanics. He still needs to do a better job of setting his feet and turning his hip simultaneously with his release. He has improved a little bit in that regard over time, but he needs to be much more mechanically sound on a consistent basis if he wants to become a more accurate quarterback.
Robert Schmitz - A whole doggone lot. I remember when Trubisky took the field on October 9th, 2017 against the Vikings and looked like a deer in headlights. He played as well as he could at the time, but he looked very raw and utterly unready to play in the NFL at that point. As that 2017 season progressed, you would catch a rare flash of ability here and there, but overall Trubisky ended the season looking much like the player his stats said he was: 7 TDs, 7 INTs. Average, if not a bit worse.
Fast forward to now and he looks like a much more confident passer overall. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what happened to the immaculate, consistent accuracy he displayed at UNC, but his pocket presence took massive steps forward in 2018 along with his overall command of Nagy’s offense and his ability to make plays with his legs. He showed he could overcome almost any situation on a football field, especially when the pressure was on late in games, and often would “fail” on a play early in a game only to come back and “succeed” on the same play later. His problem last year was consistency, but Trubisky’s highs were much higher than his 2017 highs and demonstrated his growth.
Tomorrow we continue our round-table look at Mitchell Trubisky with everyone giving their best guess as to where his ceiling could be as an NFL QB.