The Bears have three broad options when it comes to their quarterback in 2020. They can:
1) Keep Mitch Trubisky as their unquestioned starter.
2) Bring in one or two quarterbacks to compete with Trubisky.
3) Acquire a quarterback and anoint him their starter before/during OTAs.
You, the person reading this, may have already made up your mind on Trubisky. But the Bears do still need to evaluate him over the final eight games of 2019, specifically in how he can operate in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Trubisky has not had success running the “Football 202” version of Nagy’s scheme to date, with a lot of his numbers either as bad or worse than they were during his rookie year under Dowell Loggains and John Fox. While it's not realistic to expect Nagy to blow up his offense halfway through the season, he can tweak a few things in the offense to try to give Trubisky the best chance to succeed.
The Bears have already started that process: They ran 40 percent of their plays from under center against the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, as opposed to 22 percent in their previous six games.
The Bears averaged six yards per play when Trubisky dropped back to pass from under center against the Chargers, but he only completed one of four passes from under center against the Eagles (with that one being a 53-yard heave to Taylor Gabriel). Perhaps the Bears can try to get Trubisky more play-action/rollout opportunities from under center going forward, seeing as he’s comfortable with being on the move and this offense has the weapons to beat coverage downfield.
“You’re changing the launch angle, you get him on the move which is something he likes to do,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said of that deep ball to Gabriel. "But then you’re re-setting his feet and taking a shot, which you’re complementing the run game in that situation and getting our speed guys in space, so that was kind of a best-case scenario.”
Trubisky’s ability to throw on the run is one of his better abilities. He hasn’t proven to be an adept pocket passer, so why not try to get him outside the pocket more often? It depends on how opposing defenses play Trubisky, yes, but when little is working, everything's on the table.
This is just one example of a way the Bears can pare things back and try to scheme success out of Trubisky. Establishing the run and allowing Trubisky more opportunities on play-action could help get him easier completions, especially downfield, too.
But Trubisky has to complete those passes and make the most of whatever good plays Nagy does scheme and call. Against the Chargers, Trubisky overthrew a wide open Gabriel on a perfectly designed and perfectly executed play-action pass (out of the shotgun) — if he hits that throw, the Bears win, and he doesn’t lose a fumble on the next play that wounds up costing his team the lead in the fourth quarter.
“Right now there’s been more frustration than success, and we want to be able to understand the ‘why’ part,” Nagy said. “Well, we’re hammering through that and we do really feel like we’re right there, we do. We believe it’s close.
“But what happens is all-in-all regardless of any changes that you would end up making, it really does come down to just some success somewhere that can kind of build off each play or each game or each week, and that hasn’t happened with the offense. It hasn’t.”
The general feeling around Halas Hall is that the Bears’ offense is not too far off from finding its groove. There’s probably some reflexive positivity in that — if we speak it into existence and believe it’ll happen, it’ll happen — but it does not mean the Bears can keep doing what they’ve done over the first eight games in their final eight games.
That, though, does not mean changing quarterbacks in 2019, which at this point would not accomplish anything in a 3-5 season. But it does mean trying to find every possible avenue for Trubisky to turn his season — and Bears career — around.
If he does, there’s still enough time in 2019 for him to dodge a competition for his job in 2020 (though time is perilously close to running out). If he sort of does — perhaps inconsistently — then the Bears can enter 2020 looking for a quarterback to compete with him.
And if he doesn’t at all?
The Bears should have no reservations about acquiring a no-questions-asked starting quarterback next spring.