Teddy Bridgewater

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.

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Maybe they should be used to this by now. But facing young, relatively inexperienced quarterbacks, something defenses are supposed to fatten up on, has not been a positive for the John Fox Bears. And now here comes another one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will be one of four first-or-second-year starting quarterbacks on the Bears’ 2016 schedule, following Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles), Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) and ahead of Marcus Mariota, who arrives to Soldier Field in two weeks leading the Tennessee Titans. The Bears lost to the first two.

And last year the Bears were outscored 61-37 in two losses to the Minnesota Vikings and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They managed to escape Tampa with a win despite Winston’s 295 passing yards and two touchdown passes, and defeated the Oakland Raiders and second-year quarterback Derek Carr, albeit only through a Robbie Gould field goal with two seconds remaining.

Brock Osweiler wasn’t a rookie or second-year guy in 2015 but he was starting his first NFL game last season when he and the Denver Broncos defeated the Bears, 17-15, in Chicago.

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has not produced the impact of some others among the kid-QB corps. His passer rating (85.4) is about what it was his rookie season (84.2), his completion percentage remains sub-60 and his interception rate again hovers near 3 percent — all numbers not up to the performances of the others mentioned above.

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But Winston is seeing differences. After losing three straight, Winston brought the Bucs to .500 with road wins over the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers before stumbling the last two weeks in home losses to the Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.

“The goal is to get better every day, so I'm definitely ahead as far as my preparation from last year to this year,” Winston said on Wednesday. “I don't really see a difference in other teams as far as scheming against us. The difference for me as a player is just being able to process information and just being very familiar with the playbook.”

The early performance of a young quarterback again is worth considering given the likelihood of the Bears investing a high-round pick in one in the 2017 draft.

That involves a commitment, as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter knows from being Tampa Bay offensive coordinator last year when the decision to go with Winston over Mariota was made.

“That’s an entire organization decision,” Koetter recalled. “So that goes from ownership, management, down into coaching. And I would think that you would be signing up for patience.

“I was the offensive coordinator when we drafted Jameis and lucky to be that. But the whole patience thing, that’s sometimes in other people’s hands. So I look at Carolina as a good example in our [NFC South] division. They drafted a quarterback [Cam Newton]. They drafted a middle linebacker [Luke Kuechly]. They built around those guys. I think [Carolina is] a good model for us as someone who has been in the division for five years now.”

NFC North: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater suffers dislocated knee, torn ACL

NFC North: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater suffers dislocated knee, torn ACL

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL, likely ending his 2016 season before it began.

Bridgewater suffered the injury during Tuesday's practice, which was cancelled immediately following the non-contact incident. The 23-year-old quarterback was carted off the field and transported to a nearby hospital in an ambulance.

Vikings Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman released this statement on Bridgewater:

Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact injury today at practice. The injury was quickly identified as a dislocated knee. The injury was stabilized, and he was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and evaluation. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined that Teddy suffered a complete tear to his ACL and other structural damage. Fortunately, there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage. Surgical repair will be scheduled within the next few days. Although the recovery time will be significant, we expect Teddy to make a full recovery. I would like to thank all of the medical professionals and our athletic training staff for all of their help today. Teddy has already displayed the attitude needed to overcome this injury and attack his rehab.

Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round draft pick, led Minnesota to their first division title since 2009 last season.

In two seasons, Bridgewater is 17-11 with 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions with 6,150 passing yards and a 87.0 QBR.