Carson Wentz

Why Trey Burton sees plenty of similarities between Carson Wentz and Mitch Trubisky

Why Trey Burton sees plenty of similarities between Carson Wentz and Mitch Trubisky

Ryan Pace placed a big bet on Trey Burton in March, guaranteeing $22 million to a guy who’s only played 697 offensive snaps in his career (Travis Kelce, for comparison, played 872 snaps in 2017 for the Kansas City Chiefs). But the Bears liked Burton’s upside as a “U” tight end in Matt Nagy’s offense, which is cut from the same cloth as the one Burton won a Super Bowl with in Philadelphia under Doug Pederson. 

More on those comparisons in a moment, but first: Nagy has seen that upside play out not only with how Burton has practiced during the offseason program, but with how he’s fit into the team’s locker room. 

“It’s so easy to feel his leadership,” Nagy said. “It’s not one that’s a rah-rah, always hear him talking type leader. He just leads by example. The guys see that and feel that because of the team he just came from. How he handled himself in Philadelphia, he brought that here. He’s really smart. 

“So, he understands this offense and what to do, so there’s not a lot of mistakes. When guys see that you’re a player that has experience in this offense and does things the right way, they really gravitate towards that style of leadership. It’s been everything and more with what we thought with Trey.”

There are a couple of players sprinkled into the Bears’ offense who know it — or, at least, a version of it — as the team works through the lengthy process of installing it. Burton is one of those guys, even though Pederson’s offense evolved differently in Philadelphia than Nagy’s will in Chicago. But plenty of the Andy Reid-based concepts are “pretty similar,” Burton said. 

For Burton, though, that’s not where the similarities end. He’s getting the same vibe from Mitch Trubisky that he got from Carson Wentz a year ago, too. 

“Really similar,” Burton said. “There’s just so many similarities between the both of them — a lot more similarities than opposites, (like) the way he takes command, he’s a natural leader, his arm strength, his ability to run, his elusiveness in the pocket. There are a lot of things that are similar.” 

That’s all good for now, when the Bears are running around in their “underwear,” as one assistant coach put it. The most important takeaways in terms of those similarities would be Trubisky’s command of the huddle and his leadership — essentially, players wouldn’t be following him if he didn’t consistently display a good understanding of the offense and weren’t eager to take on that role as a team leader. They're two different players with two different skillsets, but gaining teammates' trust is critical for a young quarterback. 

There’s still plenty of work for Trubisky to put in if he’s even going to come close to the MVP-type level of success enjoyed by Wentz before his season-ending torn ACL. But showing some of those signs in May certainly isn’t a bad thing. 

“I love the way that they just threw Mitch out there last year and he had the fight not really understanding what to expect in the NFL,” Burton said. “He did a great job and (I’m) looking forward to this year.”

What John DeFilippo’s red zone concepts could mean for Mitch Trubisky

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What John DeFilippo’s red zone concepts could mean for Mitch Trubisky

Mitchell Trubisky, meet John DeFilippo.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bears have submitted an interview request for DeFilippo, the Eagles QB coach who's been largely credited with Carson Wentz’s development into an MVP-caliber QB in just Year 2 of his NFL career. 

With Trubisky heading into Year 2 of his career, the parallels are similar and the possibilities are salacious.

It shouldn't be assumed that a Wentz-like jump is imminent if the Bears do indeed ink DeFilippo, but one has to wonder how Trubisky's game can improve if the two are paired. One area where strides can be taken immediately is in the red zone.

"I am going to study the red zone even more to figure out how I can improve," Trubisky said after the Bears' Week 17 loss to the Vikings. "You always find out from each game what you did well, and what you need to work on, so I am going to go back through all the games and continue to look at those things.

"We have to find ways to score in the red zone to have a better chance of winning."

Well, DeFilippo may be of assistance in that department. 

The Eagles rank first in red zone touchdown scoring percentage at 65 percent. That's up from just 49 percent in Wentz's rookie season. 

Don't believe the numbers? You're going to want to watch DeFilippo thoroughly analyze the Philly's red zone offense right here

Sounds pretty convincing from here. 

There are no rookie ‘freebies’ for Mitchell Trubisky, but Carson Wentz a good lesson in patience

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USA Today

There are no rookie ‘freebies’ for Mitchell Trubisky, but Carson Wentz a good lesson in patience

The Bears like that Mitchell Trubisky is his own toughest critic, with the quarterback consistently owning his mistakes and shortcomings to his coaches, teammates and the media. After he missed an open Benny Cunningham near the end zone in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains wanted to rip him, but Trubisky was already “really upset” as he arrived on the sidelines about making such a poor throw. 

After the game, Trubisky said “there’s no rookie excuse,” for some of the struggles he’s had, and for his 2-4 record as the Bears’ starting quarterback. But to an extent, that excuse is valid, even if Trubisky has no interest in using it. 

“He shouldn’t give himself a pass,” Loggains said. “He should hold himself to a very high standard, because we do. but we all know the reality of the situation. He (hasn’t played much) since high school. Every day to this point that he’s taken the field, he’s played better. 

“That’s what we keep telling him — keep stacking good games, we’re gonna keep playing better around you, we’ll keep putting you in good situations, and the wins are going to come.”

Not only is Trubisky currently tasked with learning the Bears’ offense, and the wrinkles that are added to it each week, but he also is still getting comfortable with a group of players he either didn’t play much with, or at all, during training camp, when he was the third-string quarterback. And on top of that, he’s having to deal with opposing defensive coordinators knowing that, and continually throwing looks at him that they haven’t put on film before. 

The experiences and knowledge that will help Trubisky succeed aren’t gained in a week or a few games. They’re gained over the course of a season, and right now, Trubisky is halfway through his first year (he’s made six starts, and barring something unforeseen, has six more to go). 

Consider the growth of Carson Wentz, 2016’s No. 2 overall pick, who’s made tremendous strides in Year 2 as a starter in the NFL. Almost every relevant statistic for Wentz has been significantly better in 2017 than it was in 2016:

Year GS Record Comp% Yards Y/A TD TD% INT INT% Rate Sack%
2016 16 7-9 62.4 3,782 6.2 16 2.6 14 2.3 79.3 5.2
2017 10 9-1 59.7 2,430 7.6 25 7.9 5 1.6 103.4 6.7

That growth can be attributed to a number of things, including the Eagles staffing their offense with weapons like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. But Wentz deserves most of the credit for the strides he’s made thanks to applying the experience and knowledge he gained as a rookie to what’s now a 9-1 Eagles team in 2017. 

“It’s really expected when you’re drafted high and play right away that in the second year you transition well and really deliver for your team,” Trubisky said. “It’s good to look at those guys and see where they’ve gone from Year 1 to Year 2 and just talk to them about being a leader in the locker room and trying to improve (off) the weaknesses they see.”

So Trubisky is at least cognizant of the bigger picture, and Loggains has tried to remind his rookie quarterback of the incremental gains he’s already made through six starts. Trubisky wants to be better, and will continue to be hard on himself in his efforts to get better. 

But the optimistic outlook is Trubisky has all the talent and intangibles to follow the Year 1 to Year 2 path taken by Wentz. Perhaps a year from now, we’ll look back on this Bears-Eagles matchup and say it actually wasn’t the optimistic outlook, but the realistic outlook. 

“To me, when you’re in the situation we’re in right now where you’re not winning as many games as we want to, you have to celebrate small victories,” Loggains said. “And for us, with Mitchell, it’s, hey, you did what you needed to do in that two-minute drill to take us down and get us in position. So the growth that way, those one-possession games, he’s going to be the reason why we win those games.”