Bears defense casting thicker lens over Mitch Trubisky’s development
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky’s development should not have been seen by fans as an expeditious process. His growth, of course, was always going to be the focal point of the 2018 season. But all eyes were on 2019 for the “process” to come to fruition.
That was before Bears general manager Ryan Pace acquired one of the best players in football — that fiend!
The Bears became almost instant contenders after they landed linebacker Khalil Mack in an improbable trade with the Oakland Raiders. Super Bowl chasers? Not quite. But playoff challengers, at the very least, by virtue of their potential Top 5 defense.
Unfortunately, the defense’s vault into the nation’s limelight has placed Trubisky under an intense spotlight.
A one- or two-year process of installing an offense under new head coach Matt Nagy is no longer acceptable in the eyes of Bears Nation. If the defense can win now, so, too, must Trubisky. Any deviation from that plan requires immediate scrutinization.
Relative comparison to defense unfair to Trubisky
I can’t say I blame Bears fans for noticing Trubisky’s mistakes. We’re using perspective analysis and unfairly comparing Trubisky relative to the defense.
For example, let’s say I take out a wad of singles from my wallet, shuffle through the stack and pull out a $5 bill. That Mr. Lincoln is looking pretty nice right about then!
If, however, payday comes around and I shove a bunch of Benjamins in there — okay, maybe a few Jacksons; let’s be real — suddenly that $5 bill is looking pretty feeble, isn’t it?
In other words, Trubisky is Lincoln. And we need to cut some slack to the guy with the funny-looking facial hair.
It’s only natural to zero in on Trubisky’s mistakes given the nature of the defense. The greater that they play, the more glaring that Trubisky’s miscues seem. Our eyes are naturally trained to spot inconsistencies in pattern.
Meaning, when the defense has a pattern of greatness, any deviation from said greatness will offend our pattern-seeking sensibilities. Thus, a bad read here or an overthrow there will be met by:
“Dat Mitch Trubinsky is da worst quarterback since Cade McCowan. Bring back Jay Cutman.”
The reality is that Trubisky has played in just 15 career NFL games — less than a full season of action. Plus, he has only completed three games in Nagy’s newly installed offense.
I know that Bears fans are comparing him to Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Deshaun Watson in Houston, two quarterbacks that the Bears passed on in favor of Trubisky in the 2017 NFL Draft. Mahomes is lighting it up in a system in Kansas City that has been in place for a while now. And Watson is using his sheer athletic gifts to make it work in Houston.
But everything is new in Chicago, from the coaches, to the system, to the offensive players themselves. In what other profession in the world can you stick a bunch of unfamiliar guys together and expect immediate success?
Trubisky has room, capability for improvement
I know it seems like I’m blindly defending Trubisky, but I’m not. I’m urging caution and perspective in grading the second-year player.
If there is anything unsettling about Trubisky’s performance after 15 games, it’s his accuracy on deeper throws that’s worth consideration. Sometimes he’s on the money, like when he hit Allen Robinson for a 39-yard gain down the right side of the field in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Other times, he flat out over- or under-throws his intended receiver for no apparent reason.
Those are the throws that are a bit concerning, but could be rectified with a few more game repetitions with his new receivers.
Trubisky’s other mistakes are still not as concerning to me.
Reading a defense, calling audibles, making adjustments and scanning his progressions are qualities that definitely can be improved with time. He can learn to feel pressure in the pocket and calm his happy feet in due time. His pre-snap reads, identifying potential mismatches, and finding the open receiver all can be solved with game film and repetition.
Yes, the Bears defense is in win-now mode. And yes, any time a team “wastes” a year of a good production from one of its units, it’s discouraging. But as long as the defense continues keeping the Bears in games, Trubisky and the offense can make strides forward. And this defense is locked up for several years, thus, their Super Bowl window is open wide.
Trust the process and enjoy the ride.