John DeFilippo

Can John DeFilippo bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky?

Can John DeFilippo bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky?

The most important offseason of Mitch Trubisky's career hasn't had the best start with Wednesday's news that he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He's expected to make a full recovery in time for team activities in April, but his limitations as an NFL passer have never really been about his physical ability. It's what happens between Trubisky's ears that's lowered the ceiling on his expectations.

Despite GM Ryan Pace's insistence that quarterbacks develop at different speeds, and that Trubisky is not yet a lost cause, the Bears took a big step toward finding out once and for all if the former second overall pick can develop into a franchise quarterback. The hiring of quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo will essentially be the final investment in Trubisky; if he can't mature into a legitimate NFL starter under DeFilippo's watch, he likely never will.

DeFilippo will lean on his experience with other young quarterbacks in his effort to unleash Trubisky's high-end traits.

"I've had a lot of experience with a lot of young players, that's just kind of been the situations I've been thrown into," DeFilippo said Wednesday on Bears All Access. "I think that's a good thing. I think that helps you learn how to teach a bunch of young guys. Obviously, Mitchell's not a rookie or a second-year guy, but at the same time, he's still kind of a fresh player in the NFL who's impressionable, and you can shape him in certain things you want him to do.

"I think a lot of the young guys I've had have had success. Whether it be Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, Gardner Minshew was a seven-time rookie of the week this year. I think it's going to help our team and I'm really looking forward to helping Coach Nagy and Coach Lazor in doing what they want to do."

Expectations for Trubisky aren't exactly high in 2020. But if DeFilippo can get him to play more like the guy we saw in 2018, the Bears won't have much of a quarterback controversy. Unfortunately, Trubisky hasn't done anything through his first three seasons that suggests he'll take that leap in Year 4. He probably just is who he is, but even if that's the case, his play should at least be more efficient with DeFilippo in his ear next fall.

Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

New Bears' QB coach John DeFilippo knows a thing or two about coaching highly-drafted QBs. 

Back in 2009, DeFilippo got his first taste of life as a QB coach when his employer, the Jets, drafted Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in that year's draft. 

What followed was Sanchez's best season. During a rookie campaign in which Sanchez became only the second first-year QB in NFL history to win multiple playoff games, DeFillipo coached the QB to career-bests in touchdowns (20) and yards per completion (12.5). 

Now at Halas Hall, the Bears are hoping he can work the same magic on their own highly-drafted QB. For what it's worth, Sanchez is buying in. 

"He’s a great offensive mind," Sanchez said. "Coach Nagy knows exactly what he’s doing with these hires. He understands what Mitch needs, how he needs to progress, how he needs to grow as a quarterback, and continue to make good decisions, continue to understand what defenses to make it difficult on him, and I know that John DeFilippo can help with that.

"He was a great resource for us as one of our assistants my rookie year in New York, had a ton of success in this league. He’s been around to plenty of places, lots of great experience, and all that experience is going to lend well in helping Mitch grow." 

Since his time in New York, DeFilippo has made stops in Oakland, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and most recently, Jacksonville. He was hired by the Bears back on January 16th, and will take over for Dave Ragone who was promoted to Passing Game Coordinator. 

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Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.