Mitch Trubisky

All of the Bears' coaching hires point toward one thing: Mitch Trubisky being QB1 in 2020

All of the Bears' coaching hires point toward one thing: Mitch Trubisky being QB1 in 2020

Back in October, Bears coach Dave Ragone had this to say about quarterback Mitch Trubisky: “With any quarterback that I’ve been around as a player or I’ve coached, you want to play to that person’s strengths or what the defense is essentially giving you per play.” 

On its face, it’s not exactly the most enlightening quote – it’s hard to see that being slapped on a poster for your middle school’s library any time soon. But considering Ragone’s role – and more importantly, his latest promotion to passing game coordinator – it’s worth revisiting that quote in the wake of the Bears’ latest coaching hires. 

In December, Matt Nagy said “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.” Ragone and Trubisky’s close relationship has been well-documented, as is the case with most QB coaches and their students. John DeFilippo – who will take Ragone’s old job – was close with Nick Foles, and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was close with Andy Dalton, etc.

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Read between the lines of these latest hires and you can see the same message the Bears have been trying to send all offseason, if not longer: Mitch Trubisky is their starting quarterback now, and Mitch Trubisky is going to be their starting quarterback next year. 

Now that the full staff is hired, it’s hard to look at the moves and not see an implicit endorsement of Trubisky. Ragone didn’t get the Bears’ OC job, as some people predicted he might, but after four years as the team’s QB coach, it’s nonetheless notable that he got promoted. His track record with Trubisky certainly deserves a long look, but personal politics shows up just as much in Halas Hall as it does in any other office space, and Ragone is clearly well-liked and respected with decision makers in Lake Forest. 

Next comes the hiring of DeFilippo, whose stock is undoubtedly lower than it was just a few years ago when he was a candidate for the Bears’ head coaching job that eventually went to Nagy. He’s still considered one of the league’s better QB coaches, though, and if you’re to believe some of the reports out there, he chose Trubisky and the Bears over other offers.

With DeFilippo in place, the offensive coaching tree breaks down somewhat similarly to what it did last year, when the Bears surrounded Trubisky with maybe too many enough coaches that OC Mark Helfrich could concentrate more heavily on run schemes. Between Nagy’s role, Ragone’s increased voice, and DeFillipo’s experience, the 2020 Trubisky Braintrust now looks armed and fully operational. 

And yeah, maybe that means DeFilippo was told something about the quarterback situation that we don’t know. Maybe he turned down other jobs because he knows he’s going to get one of the free agent reclamation projects out there.

But when the owner says that Mitch is The Guy, and the GM says Mitch is The Guy, and the Coach says Mitch is The Guy, maybe, just maybe, Mitch is the Guy. And when you promote the person closest to Trubisky while hiring multiple offensive coaches who already have said QB reclamation projects on their resume, that probably means Mitch is The Guy. 

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Mike Ditka says the Bears 'can win championships' with Mitch Trubisky

Mike Ditka says the Bears 'can win championships' with Mitch Trubisky

Consider former Bears coach Mike Ditka a fan of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Ditka joined David Kaplan Wednesday on ESPN 1000's Kap and Company and made quite the statement about Chicago's former second overall pick.

Wow. That's...aggressive.

Trubisky hasn't done anything to suggest he even warrants another season as an NFL starter let alone a quarterback who's capable of winning multiple championships. 

Let's hope Bears GM Ryan Pace didn't hear Ditka's comments. They could serve as an affirmation of his borderline delusional opinion of Trubisky after three seasons. Pace's continued and unwavering support for Trubisky isn't surprising, considering he's the player on whom Pace's entire reputation as a talent evaluator hangs on. But if the front office is conducting an honest assessment of the quarterback room, one thing should be abundantly clear: they don't have a guy who can take charge in a Super Bowl season.

Ditka is the ultimate Bears backer, and he's beloved for it. But calling Trubisky a championship-level quarterback is next-level fandom that simply isn't supported by anything he's done over 41 regular-season starts.

These PFF stats prove it's time for Bears to move on from Mitch Trubisky

These PFF stats prove it's time for Bears to move on from Mitch Trubisky

Like it or not, analytics have become an integral part of pro football. It's especially true in the assessment of player performance. So when an analytics giant like Pro Football Focus outlines the Bears' biggest offseason needs, it's worth paying attention to.

According to PFF, Chicago's No. 1 need area this offseason — you guessed it — is at quarterback.

We’re going into Year 4 of Trubisky as the Bears' starting quarterback, and he has still failed to crack a 70.0 PFF overall grade. He just isn’t going to develop into the guy the Bears were hoping for when they took him as the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. With plenty of intriguing quarterback options available to the Bears via free agency this offseason, they should attack the position to get back to contending in 2020.

It's hard (if not impossible) to argue with PFF's summary of Trubisky through three seasons in the NFL. The Trubisky faithful will argue that his shortcomings in 2019 were a result of a combination of factors, ranging from the offensive line to the playcalling. But isn't a franchise quarterback supposed to rise above all that and provide at least glimpses of those special qualities inherent in the best leaders like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, to name a few?

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Trubisky isn't that guy. And after 41 regular-season starts, it's safe to say he won't be that guy. At best, he'll develop into an Alex Smith-type game-manager who can enjoy moderate moments of success. And if that level of play is buried somewhere deep within Trubisky's right arm, great! But the Bears can't enter the 2020 season assuming it's there. They have to put an action plan together to make sure the depth chart is secured with a strong QB2 who can quickly become QB1 if (and when) Trubisky fails.

Ironically, Pro Football Focus lists Chicago's offensive line and tight end as their other big needs this offseason, once again giving Trubisky truthers ammunition to back their argument that more protection and better weapons will bring the best out of the former second-overall pick.

The sooner the Bears (and the fanbase) realize Trubisky isn't the guy, the sooner this team will return to true contender status. Otherwise, it'll be more of the same in 2020.

Criticizing Trubisky isn't fun. Suggesting he's a bust isn't pleasant. It stings; it burns the core of every Bears fan. 

But sometimes, the truth hurts. And if the Bears want to move forward with a team that has a Super Bowl-caliber defense, they have to be honest with their assessment of the quarterback situation. And that honest approach has to start in free agency, where several quality veterans will be available.

Failing to do so will be the equivalent of football negligence.