Jay Cutler

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

All of the Mitch Truisky expectation qualifiers have been installed — no magic wand for the offense, only 13 college starts, not out of a pro-style system at North Carolina, and so on and so on. But irrespective of any pressure on the job statuses of GM Ryan Pace or coach John Fox, the expectations of the rookie quarterback over the next season-and-a-half or so should be more, far more, not less.

The reason lies in one of those things that run counter to most conventional-wisdom assumptions about quarterbacking in the NFL. The Bears hope, in the deepest corners of the franchise, that it continues.

That “it” is the strong — as in “near”- or actual “playoff-grade” — play of quarterbacks within their first three and often fewer seasons, a time frame which was once the norm and still is arguably preferred. Aaron Rodgers sat several years behind Brett Favre after arriving as the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 draft choice in 2005 (20 picks after the Bears had grabbed Cedric Benson), and “I was very thankful for the opportunity, now as I look back, to grow,” Rodgers said before the Bears game this year.

But in an era when defenses have become increasingly sophisticated, and numbers of top college quarterbacks are coming out of spread offenses and systems far from “pro style,” quarterbacks have had positive impacts with increasing suddenness.

Consider some case studies from the last several years:

Player | Team | Drafted | Result

Teddy Bridgewater | Vikings | 2014 | 2015 NFC North champions

Jared Goff | Rams | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC West, current No. 3-ranked passer in 2017

Robert Griffin III | Redskins | 2012 | NFC East champions, rookie season

Andrew Luck | Colts | 2012 | Playoffs first 3 seasons

Dak Prescott | Cowboys | 2016 | NFC East champions in 2016

Carson Wentz | Eagles | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC East

Jameis Winston | Bucs | 2015 | 2-14 Bucs in 2014 were 6-10 in 2015 and 9-7 last season

Success is far from automatic, and to some extent lies in the eye of the beholder and has a time element. “Everybody was calling Goff a bust sometimes last season,” said Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, now with his hand on the Trubisky steering wheel and throttle. “And the teams around the guys are obviously enormous factors.”

To wit: Goff went No. 1 overall, usually a spot belonging to the most woeful team from the previous year. But he went to a Rams team coming off a 7-9 season that dumped its draft to move up from 15th for him. Likewise, Wentz went to a 7-9 team (Philadelphia) that traded up. These weren’t Peyton Manning going to 3-13 Indianapolis and Ryan Leaf to 4-12 San Diego (1998).

But Luck was the No. 1-overall pick by an Indianapolis team that went 3-13 in 2011, then 11-5 in Luck’s first year. Washington was 5-11 in 2011, then 10-6 and NFC East champions in RGIII’s rookie season.

Trubisky has gone to a 3-13 team, one with among the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL. On the other hand, after Troy Brown, name two other New England Patriots wide receivers from their early Super Bowls.

Note to the rookie: It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools (see: Jay Cutler).

And Tom Brady had started zero games and thrown all of 3 passes, 2 incomplete, as a rookie backup on a 5-11 Patriots team in 2000 before starting in relief of Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

But the game and the players, particularly the quarterbacks have changed.

“In 2005, I don’t think the quarterbacks were as ready to play as maybe some of the guys are now,” Rodgers said. “There’s better coaching, better awareness, there’s better coaching at a younger level. If you’re not in a ‘raise-you-foot-up, look-the-sideline, let-the-coach-call-the-play offense,’ you’re doing some more stuff now at the college level.”

All the Bears ask is for Trubisky to do more stuff now at the NFL level.

Don't pretend you 'don't care': On Mike Glennon's bad day, Jay Cutler wins debut with Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Don't pretend you 'don't care': On Mike Glennon's bad day, Jay Cutler wins debut with Dolphins

If your response to Jay Cutler winning his first game with the Miami Dolphins was "don't care," you're probably lying.

On a day when Cutler's successor, Mike Glennon, turned the ball over three times in an ugly Bears loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the former Bears starting quarterback moved to 1-0 as the Dolphins' new man under center.

Cutler was pretty good in the 19-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, completing 24 of his 33 passes and throwing for 230 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins reached the end zone just once, getting four made field goals from kicker Cody Parkey.

The game's biggest play came at game's end, with Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo missing a 44-yard field-goal try to seal the deal for the Dolphins.

But most importantly, Cutler didn't the turn the ball over at all in this one, a particularly noteworthy stat considering Glennon threw a pair of interceptions and fumbled a ball away in the Bears' loss.

While Bears fans are clamoring for the team to replace Glennon with Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, John Fox indicated that Glennon won't be getting replaced as a result of his bad performance Sunday. It'll be important, then, as long as Glennon keeps his starting job, to compare him to the alternative: not Trubisky, but Cutler.

Most fans and observers were in agreement that the Cutler Era needed to end, that something different was required after a largely unsuccessful stretch with Cutler as the Bears' quarterback. And that's fine. But Cutler would have provided a desired veteran presence, the thing Glennon is supposed to provide as Trubisky matures into a starting NFL quarterback. Glennon hasn't been the solution to anything through two weeks. Meanwhile, Cutler is interception-free and 1-0 through one game with the Dolphins.

That's not saying that Cutler — nor Glennon, for that matter — will continue to perform the way he did in his first game for the remainder of the 2017 season. But it will be worth keeping an eye on Cutler in Miami and comparing what he does down there with what Glennon's doing up here. Because Cutler very well could have been the Bears' quarterback this season.

Wake-up Call: Javy hits inside-the-park homer; Cutty's welcome to Miami; Bears lose Kush

Wake-up Call: Javy hits inside-the-park homer; Cutty's welcome to Miami; Bears lose Kush

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Monday: 

Best catcher in baseball? MVP candidate? The sky is the limit for Willson Contreras

Mike Glennon’s advice for Mitch Trubisky: ‘You belong in this league’

How Cubs are positioned for a Giant run – right now and in the future

Eloy Jimenez knows exactly what he wants from his baseball career

Willson Contreras receives proof that he's having the best week ever

Patrick Kane believes Blackhawks might be better than last year ... on paper

Here it is: Bears release depth chart for first preseason game

Watch: Javy Baez motors around the bases for an inside-the-park home run in San Francisco

Kush and tushes, picking up the energy: Six takeaways from Monday Bears camp