After a disappointing 2019 season, Mitch Trubisky fans have been forced to use the former second overall pick's 2018 season as the clear and convincing evidence of his upside as a potential franchise quarterback for the Bears. Those fans may want to look away, especially if they trust analytics.
According to Pro Football Focus, Trubisky's breakout year was more of an outlier than a predictor of future success.
2018 MITCHELL TRUBISKY, CHICAGO BEARS
Passer Rating: 95.4 (16th)
ANY/A: 6.59 (16th)
TD%: 5.5% (12th)
PFF Pass Grade: 56.5 (35th)
The Bears put together a magical 2018 season, pairing the league’s best defense with an efficient offense. Outside of two excellent games, Trubisky was well-below average as a passer and his stats were inflated by a well-executed screen game and strong work at the catch point by his receivers. The 2019 version of a Trubisky was not that far off from 2018 on a throw-for-throw basis, but the passing stats were far different, showing just how lucky he was in 2018.
Trubisky regressed in every major passing category in 2019 and didn't look nearly as comfortable in the pocket as he did in 2018. Maybe he wasn't ready for Matt Nagy's Level 202; or, maybe he just isn't very good.
It's hard not to buy into the numbers produced by Pro Football Focus. Is their system perfect? No, but there's no such thing as a perfect grading system when it comes to football. That said, the data does reveal a difficult truth about who Trubisky is as a quarterback. It's even more difficult to deal with after his 2017 draftmate, Patrick Mahomes, just won a Super Bowl and was named the game's MVP. The Bears chose Trubisky over him.
The warning signs are everywhere for GM Ryan Pace. The on-field play, and the data produced from it, all reach the same conclusion: Trubisky isn't the guy.
Fortunately for Pace, he'll have several options in free agency to find a bridge quarterback until the time comes that he can take another swing on a blue-chip prospect in the draft.
The only thing stopping Pace from upgrading Chicago's quarterback situation this offseason is himself. If he lets his ego get in the way, if he becomes blinded by his 2017 scouting report and bold opinion of Trubisky as a Drew Brees-like prospect, the Bears will miss an opportunity to improve at the sport's most important position.
We saw the difference an elite quarterback makes on the game's biggest stage in Super Bowl LIV. If Pace refuses to admit Trubisky isn't that guy, then it's more than likely Chicago's Super Bowl window will close without ever sniffing one.