If the Bears are going to salvage Mitch Trubisky, they’re going to have to better utilize his strengths. They can turn to the Baltimore Ravens for ideas on how to do that.
Before I get into that, I always like to preface my pieces with a statement of belief, so that nobody can say they don’t know where I stand.
So here goes:
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is both a much better quarterback and an athlete than Mitch Trubisky. I am neither saying that they are the same guy nor that they are interchangeable players.
There, are we clear?
Jackson is thriving in Ravens’ offensive system
Through nine weeks of football, Jackson is being heralded as an MVP candidate. Some even make the argument for him as the frontrunner.
But Jackson is ranked 23rd in passing yards per game with 226.6. He also ranks 29th in pass attempts per game with 29.8. He’s 17th in the league with a completion percentage of 64.3% (Trubisky is 21st with 63%, by comparison).
So, what gives?
Where he sets himself apart is his ability to make plays with his legs. Jackson is the 11th-leading rusher in the NFL — not among quarterbacks; among the entire NFL. He’s got 637 yards on 99 carries, averaging a league-high 6.4 yards per attempt.
Jackson is such a good rusher that Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman calls designed runs for Jackson on a regular basis.
In short, Jackson is an unreal athlete.
Ravens know how to best utilize Jackson’s strengths
As I mentioned, Trubisky is not the athlete that Jackson is, but that’s not the point of this post.
My point is this: the Ravens recognize what Jackson’s best attributes are and they have tailored their game plan around that.
Do you think the Ravens ran the offense like this last season under Joe Flacco’s command? Of course not.
When the team elected to hand over the reigns from Flacco to Jackson, they also switched coordinators from Marty Mornhinweg to Roman, who was previously the assistant head coach/tight ends coach.
To put it plainly: they adapted to the quarterback.
What can the Bears learn from the Ravens and Jackson?
I don’t want the Bears to run Trubisky as much as the Ravens do with Jackson.
First, Trubisky does not have the same ball-carrying abilities that Jackson does. But second, the more that you run your quarterback, the more hits he takes, which leaves him susceptible to injury.
But the Bears can take a lesson from the Ravens’ staff. If Trubisky is not the best fit for Matt Nagy’s offense, then they need to get a new quarterback. But until they do that, he needs to adapt his play calling to what Trubisky does best.
So, what does Trubisky do best?
For starters, they need to get Trubisky on the move. It is clear that he tends to see the field and throw the ball better when he moves out of the pocket.
Additionally, they need to take the chains off Trubisky and allow him to scramble if he doesn’t see the open receiver.
I’m sure that a point of emphasis this offseason was to drill down in Trubisky’s head that he needs to stand in the pocket and complete his reads. He took off running far too quickly last year, even though he made many more plays with his legs.
It may not be the answer, but it’s certainly the only solution
If the Bears are sitting and waiting for a light to go off in Trubisky’s head, I fear that they’re wasting their time. If Trubisky hasn’t gotten the hang of being an NFL quarterback through 33 games of his career, he’s not going to suddenly do it by the 40th NFL start.
Trubisky may not be the answer to Nagy’s offensive philosophy, but that doesn’t mean Nagy should waste the final 8 games of the Bears’ 2019 regular season trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
Take heed of the Ravens’ example and allow Trubisky the opportunity to do what he does best.