The Chicago Bears came into this season with a ton of optimism. Bears’ fans knew that things were trending upward with all of General Manager Ryan Pace’s big moves in the offseason. However, the acquisition of Khalil Mack changed everything.With his addition, expectations tripled. Now all of the pieces are in place, besides the most important one, the Quarterback. Every impact signing or trade that Pace has made is meaningless if Mitch Trubisky doesn’t pan out.
It’s no secret that Quarterback is the most important position in football, so Chicago goes as far as Trubisky can take them. Now I am not saying everything is on his plate because the Bears have a top 10 defenses that they can rely on. However, it is evident from the first couple of games that head coach Matt Nagy wants to open the offense up. Meaning the people who think this team is built around the run game and defense (IE: Jags, Cowboys, Bills, etc.) are mistaken. Which is why I decided to break down Trubisky’s first couple of games of the 2018 season, to see where he is at.
To be honest, I am going to criticize young Mitchell quite a bit in this article. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t shown any signs of promise. So let’s start this piece in a positive light, and talk about his first game against the Packers. Where he came out red hot on his first couple of drives. A 31 yard completion to Taylor Gabriel in particular, where he did everything he was supposed to.
First he started this play off by identifying the coverage. There were 3 DBs deep in coverage, which means it’s cover 3 right? Wrong, it’s cover 6, meaning the left side as in quarters coverage (meaning they are covering 2 quarters of the field) , and the right side was in cover 2 (meaning they are covering half of the field). This is a pretty exotic coverage that most teams don’t really use a lot. However, Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine knew he is dealing with a young QB. Meaning he is going to pull everything out of the hat in order to throw him off.
Fortunately, Mitch wasn’t confused and knew where to go with the ball. He identified the giant throwing window that I highlighted (with the rectangle) between the rolled corner (Kevin King #20) and the deep safety, which in this case is on our right. You can see how much space there is to make this throw because this is a soft spot in the zone. The deep out route Gabriel runs allows him to run past the rolled corner, and away from the deep safety by running towards the sideline.
Believe it or not, but Mitch processed everything that I just relayed to you. I know this because he made the right read with the football. Processing this information as quickly as he did is the most important part of the play. In order to be successful as a QB you have to think the game at the highest level, and that is exactly what he did.
Lastly, the icing on the cake was Mitch’s anticipation and ball placement. I know he anticipated this throw because he started his wind up as Gabriel broke off the route. You can see that Gabriel wasn’t even looking for the ball when Mitch started his throw. That is an example of throwing a receiver open, and with all of the flaws that Mitch has had with mental processing. He has consistently shown that he can anticipate throws when he identifies the coverage. Lastly, the ball placement was outstanding. Literally right on Gabriel’s numbers, which is exactly where it needs to be.
Obviously this wasn’t the only play that impressed me. I just can’t spend the entire article talking about the positives. This article isn’t called why is Mitch Trubisky the greatest Quarterback in Bears’ history. It is a film review analyzing the ups and downs of his performances, and for all of the good things that he has done. There are still a lot of things he needs to clean up.
When I evaluated Mitch in college, I thought he was the most accurate Quarterback in his class. So his recent struggles with ball placement, and deep ball accuracy surprised me. Until I broke down the tape, and diagnosed the issue.
His first interception against the Seahawks is a perfect example of what I am talking about. He did everything right on this play, besides throwing an accurate ball. Starting off by identifying that it is cover 1, meaning it’s man to man across the board with one single high safety. The best way to attack this coverage, is to throw it vertically down the sideline.
Which is exactly what Mitch attempted to do. First he has to hold the safety with his eyes. You can see he is looking at the center of the field (the rectangle), but he wants to throw it to our left. He did this because the single high safety goes where Mitch’s eyes go (the safety reads Mitch’s eyes). By doing this, the Corner that you are throwing at has no safety help. Leaving him in a very vulnerable position.
Now it was just a one on one battle between Receiver Allen Robinson and Cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Robinson was in stacked position, meaning he had Griffin beat down the field. If Mitch threw the ball out in front of Robinson’s outside shoulder, it would’ve been a touchdown. However, Mitch got jittery in the pocket, and bounced his feet while following through with his right foot. Which is why his pass was under-thrown.
Quarterbacks’ have to transfer their weight as smoothly as possible (during their throwing motion), with little wasted movement. Meaning, this little bounce in his feet was like a speed bump to the ball. Which ultimately affected how far the it went. Giving Griffin the opportunity to make a play, when he should’ve gave up a touchdown.
Really all of his inaccurate throws (that I can remember) were because of sloppy footwork. He needs to work on setting his feet before he throws, and really just staying more balanced . He has bad habit of falling to the side or backwards after his release. Which tells me his weight transfer is all over the place. The best part about this issue, is that is fixable. Mitch just really needs to hone in on solving it with his coaches, and calm down when he is throwing in the pocket.
The time has come to talk about the ugly. Before the Bears’ fans stop reading. I am just going to say that I know this is only his second season. I know that he is young. I know that he only started 13 games in college. I know that he still needs time. That doesn’t mean that he is excused from criticism.
Mitch’s inability to consistently read defenses pre and post snap has caused him the most trouble. We can see this in this play against the Seahawks. Now I know he completed this pass to Jordan Howard, but this really should’ve been in interception
The pre-snap look is a cover 3 because the Seahawks have one single high safety, a corner in off coverage, and the other safety is closer to the line of scrimmage. The Middle Linebacker and Left Outside Linebacker (The Bears’ Left) are lined up like they are staying in coverage. However, they are actually blitzing. While the Right Outside Linebacker is lined up like he was going to blitz. When he was really going to drop back in coverage. This is a disguised blitz, and the Seahawks are known for them.
When defenses show these exotic looks, Quarterbacks like to extend their cadence because the defense gives away where the blitz is coming if the fall for the hard count. I don’t know if Nagy gives Mitch the power to change up the cadence, but no hard count was used.
Ultimately, Mitch was fooled by the disguise and almost threw an interception because of it. He thought that he would have Jordan Howard wide open in the (right) flat, with the belief that the Right Side Backer was blitzing (Mitch thought no one was going to cover JoHo). So, he predetermined his read pre snap, missed a wide open Trey Burton (red circle) in the middle of the field, and almost threw an interception. I understand that disguises like these are hard for a young QB to process, but Mitch also made another boneheaded decision in this game against a basic coverage.
He didn’t recognize basic cover 2, and that it’s zone so the defenders are reading his eyes. Mitch tried to fit the ball in a tight window that was clearly in a defender’s zone. To make things even worse he made the throw off his back foot, which is the ultimate no no. 9/10 times this pass is intercepted, so the Bears got away with one.
On this play the Cardinals were clearly showing blitz pre snap, with 4 defensive backs in coverage. Meaning this is a cover 4 blitz. So check downs and underneath routes work very well against this coverage because it is supposed to prevent big plays. It doesn’t really account for the shorter parts of the field.
Mitch doesn’t even look at the left side of the field, where his check down is wide open. He also didn’t identify the blitzer from his blind side, and took a huge loss because of this. He has to make these reads pre-snap, or the Bears’ offense will continue to struggle.
Like I mentioned before I know that Mitch is inexperienced, so I don’t expect him to be perfect. Hopefully these mistake are just growing pains that he will learn from. As a Bears’ fan I want to believe that he is good enough to win now, but I would be lying to myself and whoever reads this article if I said I believe that. Unless he takes huge strides this season (which is highly unlikely, QBs usually don’t make substantial development during a season), the Bears might still be a year away. Our team is built to win now, and I think we can do that if we ride our defense and take the game out Mitch’s hands (for now). However, we all know that the guy under center plays the most important position, and if he is limited, your team is limited. So my expectations for the Bears’ aren’t as high as others, until I see Mitch take the next step.