After a less than stellar rookie season, there were more than a few doubts cast on the Chicago Bears front office. Perhaps they thought too highly on Mitchell Trubisky. He had shown promise during that rough 12 game stretch, but ultimately needed a year to prove everyone wrong. Enter 2018.
Under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, Trubisky completed 66.6% of his passes for 3,223 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 14 games. His overall season included some bumps in the road, but he really showed everyone what can happen given time to grow.
His QBR, or quarterback rating, was third overall in the NFL, according to ESPN. On a scale from 1-100, his rating was 72.7, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. Compare that to his rookie season, when he scored a 32.4, which was 29th in the league, and even the biggest Trubisky hater can’t deny his growth.
Going from 29th in the league to third overall is a vast improvement. However, Trubisky’s real prowess showed when he was in a tight spot. It seemed more often than not, the Chicago quarterback would be able to extend plays with his legs, keeping the defense resting on the sidelines and extending crucial drives. He had 421 rushing yards, good for over six yards per carry.
While those are the good traits for Trubisky, there were games where you could tell he was still developing. There were too many times where Trubisky would hesitate on his throws, and try to make something happen out of nothing. All season long the Chicago quarterback would struggle with his ability to not see which receiver is open or about to be covered.
The game against the Eagles shows what Trubisky has been dealing with all season long. On a particular play with a little less than six minutes left in the first quarter, Bears tight end Ben Braunecker gets wide open. Trubisky appears to notice him, but hesitates on the throw, preventing what could have easily been a big play, even a touchdown. More often than not, the Bears quarterback wouldn’t see the wide open play, and attempt to force something else to happen, which could lead to disastrous consequences.
There are still some mechanics that Trubisky needs to work on, but he’s still young enough to grow out of it. Once again diverting to the Eagles game, the Bears quarterback shows his growth. With under ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the Bears down 10-9, Chicago manages to fake out the Eagles defenders and make some big plays. With Allen Robinson covered, Trubisky hits Josh Bellamy for 34 yards. Later on, he hits Robinson for a touchdown, to put the Bears up late in the game.
The point is that all season long, Trubisky would appear to struggle a bit. He would attempt to force throws, make plays appear out of nowhere and do more harm than good. However, as the game goes on, the Bears quarterback became stronger, hitting receivers with big plays and showing why he was picked second overall.
Part of Trubisky’s problem is that he is always going to be compared with the quarterbacks in his draft class. Patrick Mahomes, who led the NFL in touchdowns this season with 50, and Deshaun Watson, who has 45 touchdowns in 23 games, were both selected after Trubisky. However, what people either don’t understand, or refuse to acknowledge, are the weapons that both of these quarterbacks have at their disposal.
Look at who Mahomes had to throw to. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins all have big play potential. Both Hill and Kelce had over 1,300 yards receiving, and despite Watkins missing six games to injury, he had over 500 yards as a pretty good third option. Watson, on the other hand, has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins, and fantastic complimentary pieces in Keke Coutee and Will Fuller. Granted the latter two are injury prone, when healthy they show just how dangerous Watson can be.
Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel are all fine pieces. However, they’re nothing compared to either Hill or Hopkins. And that’s not necessarily on Trubisky either. But when both of these quarterbacks have top-5 receivers to rely on a weekly basis, they’re going to have some great numbers.
The bottom line is that Trubisky isn’t perfect. He’s not going to throw for 50 touchdowns or over 5,000 yards. What he is, though, is a competent game manager who is going to keep Chicago in more games than not. Don’t forget, Trubisky is still growing under Nagy’s system and has nowhere to go but up. It was obvious in games this season how much Trubisky has grown in simply one season. With that playoff loss still fresh in Chicago’s mind, it’s all but guaranteed Trubisky will be better in 2019.
FINAL GRADE: B-