First things first, getting some ancient history out of the way but also looking at it in a different light….
Turns out Dowell Loggains may not have been an idiot or John Fox an offensive restrictor plate, either, in the matter of using and developing Mitchell Trubisky. They in fact appear to have known some things that Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich are finding out about one young NFL quarterback: that Trubisky simply isn’t particularly accurate or effective going downfield with his passes. At least, not yet.
The Bears did their ongoing due analytics through Trubisky’s rookie year. In the requisite pursuit of putting a player in the best chance to have success, they determined what he wasn’t good at, and trimmed back much of the field from his scripting and play rolodex early. The sense now is that Nagy also may be doing just that with Trubisky.
Something never made complete sense, that Loggains, had thrown the ball around Soldier and other Fields more than 61 percent of the time with Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. Yet with a talent like Trubisky, he was calling only a more-balanced 53 percent passing. The accuracy reality helps you understand some of the reason why; The young QB just hadn’t really thrown accurately down the field, or anywhere, for that matter, looking at his 59.4-percent completion rate even with the top of the field dialed back.
Downfield accuracy can be a quirky thing. Rex Grossman, for instance, was quixotically more accurate when passes were directed longer than 15 yards, yet maddeningly scattershot on, say, bubble screens. Trubisky is not that, most quarterbacks aren’t, but positive plays are the objective, wherever they lie for the particular thrower.
But all of that’s not really important now, just looking at Trubisky with some perspective; the downfield accuracy that’s a true work in progress wasn’t there then. And best guess is that Fox, Loggains and the rest of the staff weren’t going to tell Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Cody Whitehair or anyone else on offense to get their bodies pounded just so the kid could learn how to throw deep. The point was, and is, to win the game (thank you, Herman Edwards).
More to matters of more recent perspective….
Using the right evaluation scales
One simple (well, maybe not completely simple) fact is that Mitch Trubisky is improving, and in many respects, substantially, even as frustration and dissecting continue.
First, a note of explanation: Evaluating Trubisky against expectations, even for a No. 2-overall pick, isn’t useful. Neither is evaluating him strictly vis’a’vis other young quarterbacks.
What is useful is evaluating Trubisky vs. Trubisky, No. 1, and No. 2, more important, is the team winning with him?
The answer to No. 2 is “yes.” Two wins in three games, being within on defensive stop of having his team 3-0—that’s a “yes.” He had his team 2-1 last year after three starts, albeit against better competition (Minnesota, Baltimore, Carolina), so he is at least as win’ish as he was as a rookie.
As to No. 1, the footwork isn’t where he or his coaches want it. Neither is his decision-making. Nor the accuracy thing.
But evaluating Trubisky against Trubisky and not Allen, Mahomes, Watson or anyone else, the point is signs of improvement. Consider:
In his first three starts last season, Trubisky barely qualified for “inaccurate” or “productive.” In his first three starts this season, he’s earned both, even with his distance issues:
Cmp. Yards Cmp. Yards
Gm 1 48.0% 128 65.7% 171
Gm 2 50.0% 113 73.5 200
Gm 3 57.1% 107 68.6 220
Even with a couple of untoward throws and interceptions, his INT rate is still a respectable-if-not-great 2.9 percent.
Trubisky’s meaningful arrows are pointing up when compared to where he finished that rookie season, when he went out 1-2 with declining performances:
Gm 14 67.4% 314
Gm 15 60.9% 193
Gm 16 55.6% 178
Putting a final assessment of Trubisky is still quite some weeks off for 2018, and quite sometime longer for what he is big-picture. But in the meantime, comparing Mitch Trubisky ’17 to Mitch Trubisky ’18, the new one is better.