Bears

Why recent history isn't on Mitchell Trubisky's side for his debut next week

Last month, we looked at when highly drafted quarterbacks made their first career starts and found some results that indicated Mitchell Trubisky would start sooner rather than later. There were 14 top-10-picked quarterbacks in that group who made their first start after Week 1, including the likes of Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning (the good) and Joey Harrington and JaMarcus Russell (the bad). 

But with Mitchell Trubisky set to make his first career start on Monday night — Week 5 for the Bears — how did those other similarly-drafted quarterbacks do in their first career starts? Here’s the list:

Quarterback First Start Opponent Result  CMP ATT YDS TD INT PR
Akili Smith 10/10/1999 @ CLE W 18-17 25 42 221 2 0 89.5
Donovan McNabb 11/14/1999 WAS W 35-28 8 21 60 0 0 46.3
Tim Couch 9/19/1999 @ TEN L 26-9 12 24 134 1 0 80.9
Michael Vick 11/11/2001 DAL W 20-13 4 12 32 1 0 70.1
Joey Harrington 9/22/2002 GB L 37-31 15 35 182 2 4 38.9
Byron Leftwich 9/28/2003 @ HOU L 24-20 17 36 231 1 3 42.7
Eli Manning 11/21/2004 ATL L 14-10 17 37 162 1 2 45.1
Alex Smith 10/9/2005 IND L 28-3 9 23 74 0 4 8.5
Matt Leinart 10/8/2006 KC L 23-20 22 35 253 2 1 91.7
Vince Young 10/1/2006 DAL L 45-14 14 29 155 1 2 47.3
JaMarcus Russell 12/30/2007 SD L 30-17 23 31 224 1 1 91.3
Blaine Gabbert 9/25/2011 @ CAR L 16-10 12 21 139 1 1 73.3
Blake Bortles 9/28/2014 @ SD L 33-14 29 37 254 1 2 81.8
Jared Goff 11/20/2016 MIA L 14-10 17 31 134 0 0 65.8

The point of looking at quarterbacks who made their starting debuts mid-season: They didn’t have the benefit of training camp and preseason to prepare as the starter. None of these players had an extra week to prepare (as in coming off a bye) either. Trubisky will get an extra practice to prepare with his first start coming on Monday night. 

Each of these quarterbacks made their first start under different circumstances, but the averages of the 14 are worth noting: A 54.1 completion percentage, 161 yards, 1 TD, 1.4 INTs and a passer rating of 62.3. That’s not necessarily an indication of future performance — Matt Leinart, statistically, had the best rookie year of any of these quarterbacks — but it’s worth keeping in mind for Trubisky on Monday.