Mitch Trubisky must take another big step forward for the Bears to make a run at Super Bowl LIV, argues Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report.
I don’t think there is a clearer, more indisputable argument in the National Football League than that. How can there be? The Bears had the best defense in the NFL in 2018 and one of the most innovative offenses. A highly productive quarterback position seems to be the only obstacle on the way to a championship.
But despite the clarity of the proposition, just how much better must Trubisky get in order for the Bears to win a Super Bowl title?
Can Trubisky emulate former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles?
During the 2017 season, the Philadelphia Eagles were on a roll with Carson Wentz at quarterback. Wentz passed for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions through 13 games. He led the Eagles to an 11-2 record — one of those victories being a 31-3 drubbing of the Bears. He was in conversations — and was possibly the front runner — for league MVP.
Then Wentz went down with an injury and all hope seemed to be sucked out of the air from Eagles fans. Backup quarterback Nick Foles had two awful performances to close out the regular season.
Little did anyone expect what came next.
Foles had a rejuvenated postseason and led the Eagles to a championship, even taking down the mighty New England Patriots in a Super Bowl offensive shootout.
Foles is hardly an elite player — which gives hope to Bears fans pondering the prowess of Trubisky.
Comparing Foles’ postseason numbers to Trubisky’s 2018 averages
Foles was efficient and productive leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl, but his numbers didn’t exactly suggest elite status.
During the Eagles’ three-game postseason title run that year, Foles averaged 25.6 completions on 35.3 attempts (72.6%) for 323.6 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0.3 interceptions.
Trubisky last season averaged 20.6 completions on 31 attempts (66.6%) for 230.2 yards, 1.7 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions.
For those of you who aren’t math nerds, let’s break down those differences a little bit.
If Trubisky threw the exact same number of passes as he did last year, but completed three more per game, he’d have an even better pass percentage than Foles did.
Now, if those three passes per game were intermediate-to-deep balls — passes that he has had trouble completing — he’d finish with about 300-325 yards per game.
And if he threw four more touchdowns over the course of the season, he’d average the same number over an entire season as Foles did in his postseason run.
What Trubisky most needs to fix
The one statistic that Trubisky most needs to address is his ball security. Foles had one interception during the Eagles’ championship playoff run. Trubisky nearly averaged one interception per game last year.
Using our above hypothetical example, if Trubisky completed three more passes on average — thus bumping up his yards to 300 per game — and maintained a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he’d finish with a 112.3 passer rating — only 3 points lower than Foles’ during the Eagles’ championship postseason.
I used Foles as a comparison for a reason. He’s not an elite quarterback, which makes comparisons easier. But he also played in a similar offense under Doug Pederson in Philly as Trubisky does under Nagy in Chicago.
The numbers suggest that even a modest jump in production would put Trubisky in the same category of efficiency as Foles exhibited during the Eagles’ 2017-18 Super Bowl title run.
In his first season under Nagy, Trubisky was told to be aggressive. Most of Trubisky’s interceptions were smart reads, but errant throws. The good news is that those can be corrected.
Trubisky doesn’t have to be elite for the Bears to contend for a championship. Having one of the league’s best defenses makes that possible.
But he does have to improve his completion percentage and reduce his mistakes. Those are two things that are clearly correctable for a young quarterback entering the second season in a new offense.