Bears

Mitch Trubisky ranks among worst first-round QBs of the last decade

Mitch Trubisky ranks among worst first-round QBs of the last decade

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky has endured his fair share of criticism this season. Most of it has been a result of his poor play, while an argument can be made that a small sliver of the negativity hurled his way is the result of a deeply rooted agenda against GM Ryan Pace and his 2017 draft-day trade.

At this point in Trubisky's career, it's hard to defend Pace's use of the second overall pick on the former UNC standout who started just 13 games as a collegiate quarterback. It's an even more impossible task when factoring the two quarterbacks Pace dismissed as options — Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson.

Mahomes won the NFL MVP in 2018 and Watson is making a strong case to take home the hardware this year.

Meanwhile, Trubisky is struggling to prove he even belongs in Chicago's starting lineup. It's been so bad, in fact, that the Bears have been pegged as one of the favorites to sign Colin Kaepernick despite the team showing no interest in him whatsoever. They aren't among the 11 confirmed clubs who will attend the former 49er's workout on Saturday in Atlanta.

Trubisky's 2019 season has gone about as bad as anyone could've feared. His 85.2 passer rating ranks among the worst starters in the league and his eight touchdown passes barely have him in the top 32 (he's currently 28th in the NFL in that category). His expected completion percentage, which measures a passer’s completion probability on every play and determines what a passer’s completion percentage is expected to be, is the ninth-worst among quarterbacks this year.

Simply put, he's been bad.

Anytime a former first-round quarterback is performing as poorly as Trubisky is, an inevitable conversation begins: Where does Trubisky rank among recent first-round quarterback busts?

According to Yahoo! Sports, Trubisky is the fourth-worst quarterback to be selected in the first round in the last decade: 

There are a lot of angry fans in Chicago who would argue this pick is 30th considering they not only traded away four picks to move up one spot to select a third-team All-ACC quarterback with 12 career starts but also passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in the process of doing so. And we’re open to that argument. But until the book officially closes on Trubisky’s time in Chicago, he stays ahead of the three guys who posted total zeroes for their teams. 

To put this in perspective, Trubisky ranks lower than players like Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Blake Bortles, Tim Tebow, Brandon Weeden and E.J. Manuel, to name a few.

The only first-round quarterbacks who were drafted in the last 10 years who rank below Trubisky are Josh Rosen, Johnny Manziel and Paxton Lynch; not exactly the company any quarterback wants to find themselves in.

It's a shocking turn of events for a player who was on an upward trajectory at the start of the season. Trubisky's rookie year was considered a success when factoring in the offensive coaching staff led by Dowell Loggains and the receiving corps headlined by Kendall Wright, and in his first season with Matt Nagy in 2018, Trubisky flashed the kind of dual-threat upside that made him a darkhorse MVP candidate entering 2019.

Instead of posting franchise-quarterback stats, Trubisky's on pace for 2,471 yards and 14 touchdowns. Granted, he missed nearly two weeks with a shoulder injury, but he hasn't passed for more than 253 yards in any game this year.

Is Trubisky one of the four worst first-round quarterbacks in the last decade? It's probably too early to say for sure, but there's been little evidence to suggest he isn't at this point.

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The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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