Mitchell Trubisky threw a career high three interceptions in Saturday's 20-10 loss to the Detroit Lions, so from that perspective, it was the worst game of his career.
Coach John Fox disputed that thought on Monday, though, making the case that Trubisky actually played his best game with the Bears last weekend. That statement may have been directed at the folks responsible for deciding whether or not he'll get a fourth year in Chicago, but it does have some merit in some of the operational things that don't show up in the stat sheet.
Still, three intereptions are hard to get past, especially for a coaching staff that first and foremost has worked to drill ball security into the head of their No. 2 overall pick.
Trubisky's first interception came when he overthrew Kendall Wright while rolling to his left, the product of nothing more than an inaccurate pass. That's something that can be cleaned up, as was his third pick, which came when he and tight end Daniel Brown weren't on the same page on a last-ditch drive late in the fourth quarter.
But the second interception he threw was particularly disappointing given 1) the situation and 2) how it happened.
Facing a third-and-goal from the five-yard line, with the Bears down by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, this is what Trubisky saw:
Dontrelle Inman (red arrow) is matched up in man coverage against cornerback Darius Slay. Safety Quandre Diggs (yellow arrow) is at the front of the end zone, and will drop back to assist Slay in coverage. At the bottom of the screen, Kendall Wright, Daniel Brown and Dion Sims are in a bunch formation, with Benny Cunningham as the lone running back next to Trubisky.
Trubisky receives the snap, and Diggs holds his ground as Inman begins his route (red circle). Brown (green arrow) will run across the face of linebacker Tahir Whitehead toward the far sideline.
Diggs took his first step back before Trubisky began his throwing motion, while Whitehead briefly engages with Brown. Trubisky, though, doesn't see Diggs, and thinks Inman is being manned up by only Slay as he cuts toward the back middle of the end zone.
Diggs easily steps in front of the pass and picks it off. Sims (black circle) was doubled in the end zone, leaving Brown (grene circle), Wright (off screen) and Cunningham (below the green circle) as the players in one-on-one man coverage on this play.
"Yeah, I just lost (Diggs) in my vision," Trubisky said Saturday. "I thought I had ‘Trelle in the back of the end zone. Kind of just forced one there. Good coverage and call by them and I just gotta throw the ball away so we can get a field goal and not force it."
Playing armchair quarterback for a bit, perhaps Trubisky could've slid to his left away from some pressure and thrown Brown's direction. While Whitehead still could've broke up the pass, he probably wouldn't have picked it off and the Bears would've at least managed a field goal. With the benefit of film review, Trubisky offered this analysis of the interception on Monday:
"Forced throw," he said. "Forced throw. The DB did a good job baiting me into it and they covered everything else pretty well. I saw something on the field that really wasn't there when you go back and watch it on film."
But we'll end this with a more positive thought: Throws like this one are a reminder that Trubisky has started 24 games since high school (13 at North Carolina, one in the preseason, 10 in the regular season). Most rookie quarterbacks started at least 26 games in college, or two full regular seasons with bowl games ending each.
Through that lens, the most important thing for Trubisky in 2017 is gaining the experience to pair with his talent, which showed up on a few throws Saturday, too (like his 22-yarder to Markus Wheaton while staring down a biltz). There's a lot that Trubisky hasn't experienced yet. This interception was the first he's thrown on 1) third down and 2) in the end zone. He'll learn from it as the game continues to slow down for him toward the end of his rookie year.
"I would say on some plays definitely, and on other plays not," Trubisky said when asked if the game is getting slower for him. "You could definitely see it in my footwork when I'm drifting when I don't need to or when my feet are calm and I'm moving through my progressions very smoothly. You can tell which plays it's slower and which plays it's not.
"I'm definitely progressing and you want to see the games continue to get slower for me as it goes because then you're just dissecting defenses and you're in a rhythm going right down the field. Some plays it is, some plays it's not and the more I'm able to slow it down the more success I'll have going forward."