Mitch Trubisky probably didn’t think his college reunion would go quite like this. Already with immense pressure on his shoulders to show he’s starting QB material for the Bears, Monday night’s matchup will be personal for Trubisky for another reason—he used to live with Redskins linebacker Cole Holcomb. And Cole is already getting ready for the face off.
Holcomb, a rookie, roomed with Trubisky at North Carolina for two years. Holcomb is second on the Redskins in tackles this year and he recently spoke on NBCSports Washington’s Redskins Talk Podcast about how his relationship with Trubisky will come into play on Monday.
"He's a competitor," Holcomb said. "He hates losing. He's one of those perfectionist people. Maybe if we can rattle him up a little bit, get him nervous back there, we'll be able to make some things happen with him."
"We've been texting all week," Holcomb explained. "We've got a group chat with a bunch of the teammates. They're all like, 'Oh, it's Mitch vs. Cole this week. It's Mitch vs. Cole this week. What's going to happen?'"
It’ll be interesting to see if Holcomb and the Redskins will ‘rattle’ Trubisky or if Trubisky will pull through and lead the offense to victory in Week 3.
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The 2019 NFL season is still very young with only two weeks in its rear-view mirror, but the talking points surrounding Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky are starting to get really old. He's been the subject of relentless criticism because of the offense's slow start and while some concerns regarding his development have merit, most of them are the product of impatience.
For example, the lazy suggestion that Trubisky is a bust because his 2017 NFL draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom he was drafted ahead of, are already league superstars is just wrong. Players evolve and develop at different speeds. Trubisky is the only one of the three on his second head coach and is only just now beginning to develop timing with his receivers, all of whom were added to the team via free agency or the draft last season. Neither Watson nor Mahomes have had nearly as much turbulence and turnover as Trubisky through three seasons. And that matters.
It also matters who a quarterback faces from week to week. Trubisky's 2019 season started against two of the NFL's better defenses in Green Bay and Denver, so his poor stat line is a combination of his below-average play meeting above-average defenses. It's tough for a young quarterback to get out of a slump when he's battling top-tier pass rushers and quality secondaries along the way.
Fortunately, he'll get his first big opportunity to put up quality stats against the Redskins Monday night; Washington is one of the NFL's worst defenses right now, including against the pass.
But Bears fans are still somewhat skeptical about Trubisky's ceiling in Week 3. A matchup like this should make a 300-yard game within his reach. Maybe even a couple of touchdowns. But according to a recent poll I ran on Twitter, Bears fans don't see it coming out that way.
The majority of fans (36%) think Trubisky will end the game with somewhere between 200-249 yards, which by today's NFL standards is very (very!) average. If you factor the 29% who think he won't even reach 200 yards, you end up with 65% of Bears fans thinking Trubisky won't reach 250 yards and, in theory, could struggle to even hit the 200-yard mark.
That's pretty surprising, considering the numbers the Redskins have given up in Weeks 1 and 2. Carson Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against and Dak Prescott sliced them up for 269 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. There's no reason to think Trubisky can't have a game similar to Prescott's, assuming Matt Nagy dials up the right plays to put him in position to succeed.
It's no secret that Mitch Trubisky is off to a shaky start in 2019. He has the second-lowest quarterback rating through two games, ahead of only Miami's Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to NFL's Next Gen stats.
Week 3's Monday night matchup against the Redskins should produce better results because of how bad the Redskins defense has looked so far this season, but it'll take more than just a favorable opponent for Trubisky to improve. According to Pro Football Focus, he has to do a better job reading through his progressions.
To be clear, Trubisky has struggled all over the PFF spectrum. But what really sticks out is his play while reading through his progressions. His 29.9 passing grade on second-read throws — throws made after the QB has clearly moved his eyes to his next receiver — is dead last in the NFL, and he has completed fewer than 50% of his attempts in those situations. His four turnover-worthy passes rank second-most since the start of 2018, and he owns the NFL’s fourth-lowest adjusted completion percentage on his second reads.
This is not what Matt Nagy nor Ryan Pace expected from Trubisky, who's now in his second season operating Nagy's offense. But this isn't particularly surprising, either. Trubisky got off to a slow start in 2018 before ramping up his production in Week 4's six-touchdown effort against the Buccaneers.
While expecting another game from Trubisky like the one he enjoyed against Tampa Bay would be a bit unreasonable, an uptick in his play is anticipated Monday night. And if he can produce results after looking off his first and second options, then there will be more than enough reasons to be optimistic about his ability to turn his season around.