Mitchell Trubisky is learning how to take care of the ball in the NFL, and why that’s big in his development


Mitchell Trubisky is learning how to take care of the ball in the NFL, and why that’s big in his development

Since 1997, only three rookie quarterbacks have attempted at least 200 passes with a completion rate below 50 percent: Donovan McNabb (49.07 completion percentage, 216 attempts), Ryan Leaf (45.31 completion percentage, 245 attempts) and Craig Whelihan (49.79 completion percentage, 237 attempts).

Mitchell Trubisky is on pace to attempt 240 passes, and enters the Bears’ off week having completed 47.5 percent of his passes. If those numbers hold up, that’d be an odd group to join — one of the NFL’s most notable quarterback busts (Leaf), a future Hall of Famer (McNabb) and an anonymous former sixth-round pick (Whelihan). But Trubisky is nowhere near statistical path taken by Leaf, who threw 15 interceptions his rookie year and was out of the league within four years of being drafted thanks largely to his inability to take care of the football.

If Trubisky’s interception rate of 2.5 percent holds up and he throws 240 passes, that would equal six interceptions in his rookie year. There have been seven rookie quarterbacks to attempt at least 200 passes with an interception rate at 2.5 percent or below in the last 20 years: Dak Prescott (0.87 INT%), Carson Wentz (2.31 INT%), Derek Carr (2.00 INT%), Mike Glennon (2.16 INT%), Nick Foles (1.89 INT%), Robert Griffin III (1.27 INT%) and Charlie Batch (1.98 INT%).

How sustainable have those interception rates been?

Prescott: 0.87 percent (rookie), 1.2 percent (career)

Wentz: 2.31 percent (rookie), 2.2 percent (career)

Carr: 2.0 percent (rookie), 1.9 percent (career)

Glennon: 2.16 percent (rookie), 2.6 percent (career)

Foles: 1.89 percent (rookie), 2.1 percent (career)

Griffin: 1.27 percent (rookie), 2.1 percent (career)

Batch: 1.98 percent (rookie), 3.2 percent (career)

These aren’t without their extenuating circumstances, like Griffin’s serious knee injury or Glennon barely playing in 2015 and 2016 before struggling with the Bears this year. But the thought here is that learning to take care of the football as a rookie is generally a good thing, and good quarterbacks won’t see that percentage slide as their careers go on.

So far, Trubisky has shown he can do that. He hasn’t shown he can operate a complete offense yet, either due to the limitations of only starting 18 games since high school (13 at North Carolina, one in preseason, four in regular season) or because the pieces around him aren’t conducive to opening things up. But Trubisky’s natural ability is there, and isn’t going away no matter how conservative the gameplan is.

And if/when the Bears are ready to open up the offense for Trubisky — this year, next year, etc. — having that ability to take care of the football should greatly benefit him.

“I think some of it’s innate,” quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone said. “Some of it’s understanding hey, my progression, there’s nothing there, or there’s something wrong within the timing of the play and it’s time to move on. And when I move on and I break the pocket, I don’t have to force a ball on a second and seven call in the second quarter. It’s not a must-have situation.

“And for him to already understand that, and we do take as much pride as an offense with coach (Dowell) Loggains on down to talk about situations with him and the offense in general and constantly talk about it, but he does have the ability to understand hey, live to play another play here. And he’s very aware of the surroundings of the game, what’s going on, the situations of the game and again that’s to the fact that the guy obviously, it means something to him, this game and you can tell in his actions and his words.”

Pat McAfee thinks Cam Newton is the move the Bears should be making this offseason

Pat McAfee thinks Cam Newton is the move the Bears should be making this offseason

Recently on the always-light-hearted, analytical-bending Pat McAfee Show, the former Indianapolis Colts player turned radio host weighed in on the Bears’ decision to keep Mitch Trubisky under center for the upcoming season. McAfee believes it’s time the Bears climb back into relevancy by replacing Trubisky with former-MVP Cam Newton:

If I was the Chicago Bears, I would be trying to get Cam Newton. What's the worst that could happen? He stinks? You guys stink anyways. 

With a “what do you have to lose?” mantra, McAfee believes that the Bears should swap out Trubisky for the Panthers' star. Newton is not a free agent, however; it's possible his time with the Panthers could be up,  as it's been heavily-rumored that they'll trade him away this offseason. Newton was sidelined most of the 2019 season with back-to-back injuries, first in his shoulder, then his ankle. If they trade away Newton, the Panthers could allot the money to rebuilding their team around one of the league’s best running backs, Christian McCaffery. 

2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

MOBILE, Ala. — The Detroit Lions didn't gain any new fans after their questionable practice session (North team) on Day 1 of the 2020 Senior Bowl, but despite a lot of time warming up and working against air, there were a few prospect performances worth noting.

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was the headliner, showing off his cannon of an arm in what was a clear display of starting-quarterback talent. Compared to fellow North team quarterbacks Shea Patterson (Michigan) and Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Love looked like the only quarterback who's capable of succeeding in the NFL. It wasn't even close.

Love has an effortless throwing motion. His passes are crisp, accurate and on a rope. Was he perfect? No. But he had the most impressive arm of the day. His first-round hype is very real and will only continue to build momentum as the week goes on.

RELATED: Here's who Bears scouts are watching at the Senior Bowl

As for Patterson and Gordon? Bears fans need to temper their excitement for both of them. Patterson's quirky throwing motion looks labored and forced while Gordon's slight frame and underwhelming arm strength scream backup at best.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) had a quiet first practice. His opportunities to make plays were limited. But he'll need a strong finish to the week to maintain his standing as the top tight end at the Senior Bowl.

One player Bears fans should highlight as a name to watch is Michigan offensive lineman Ben Bredeson. He looked the part on Tuesday. He has strong hands and the kind of powerful playing style that tends to lead to success in the NFL. He showed pretty good feet, too. He has a chance to rise up the board if he stacks two more positive practices together.

On the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse edge rusher Alton Robinson flashed in drills. He showed a good first step and violent hands at the point of attack. He won several reps with ease. The Bears have to add pass-rush help in the middle rounds, and Robinson looks like a quality prospect worth keeping an eye on.

Ohio State defensive lineman Davon Hamilton had a nice day, too. He was almost unblockable at times and practiced with a level of intensity that scouts are certain to like. While not a need in Chicago, Hamilton looks like a player whose value could trump need come draft day. 

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