I want you, the reader, to close your eyes while I explain this to you. You are in 9th grade science class, and you have just taken your unit test. The unit you’ve just reviewed is simple, basically just the same experiments over and over again, and not much complexity. The day after the test, your teacher, Mr. Meyers, says that you are about to learn the most complex, most difficult to understand science unit known to all high schoolers, and you will go over the entire unit in just three days. Basically what he does the next three days, is throw all the material at you, and on the fourth day, he says, “Here is your test, good luck.” Do you expect yourself to pass that test? Hell. No. There is no way you get a half-decent grade.
The same is true for Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. His teacher, Mr. Nagy, is trying to teach Trubisky a brand new, extremely complex offense, except Nagy isn’t throwing the entire thing at Trubisky at once. It is not fair to expect a sophomore quarterback, who came out of college with just 13 starts and was poorly coached and poorly used in his rookie season, to come out and produce immediately. You might say, “Well, what about Patrick Mahomes? Sure, he had two more years of college playing time than Trubisky, but he didn’t start one game as a rookie, while Trubisky played 12 games. And now, Mahomes is lighting up the NFL with 13 TDs through the first three weeks.” Well, Mahomes was able to spend his entire rookie season learning Andy Reid’s offense, the same offense that Trubisky uses in Chicago. And Mahomes didn’t even have to play; he sat basically the entire 2017 season behind Alex Smith, who was traded to the Washington Redskins in March. Mahomes is way ahead of Trubisky as far as experience in the system goes. It also helps Mahomes that the majority of his offensive supporting cast members have been playing in Reid’s system for a while, while nearly all of Trubisky’s supporting cast members are also learning the system for the first time.
I saw a tweet that was quite interesting to me. It was a chart of a bunch of different quarterbacks and their first year in a West Coast system. Here are a few examples: Brett Favre (1992): 302/471 (64.1%), 3,227 yards, 18 TDs, 13 INTs, 85.3 passer rating (PR). Rich Gannon (1992): 159/279 (57%), 1,905 yards, 12 TDs, 13 INTs, 72.9 PR. Warren Moon (1994): 371/601 (61.7%), 18 TDs, 19 INTs, 79.9 PR. Steve McNair (2000): 248/396 (62.6%), 15 TDs, 13 INTs, 82.2 PR. Here is the entire two-page spreadsheet if you wish to see more. I highly recommend looking at it. Notable names are highlighted in red.
In case you didn’t notice, there are some great all-time quarterbacks on this list, even some Hall of Famers, who have very underwhelming numbers. The point is, it isn’t always possible for a quarterback to play at an extremely high level in his first season in a new offense. Trubisky’s lack of experience in general certainly doesn’t help him out any. Remember, people labeled Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff as a bust after his rookie season, but the Rams hired Sean McVay as their head coach and surrounded Goff with great playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. I think Matt Nagy is a very good, clever coach, but not everyone is a sorcerer like McVay. I’m not saying that McVay is better than Nagy or vise versa, all I’m saying is that a Goff-like jump is highly unlikely no matter who the team, coach or QB is. Also, just because Goff took a big year two jump doesn’t mean that Trubisky has to. They are not the same person and not the same quarterback.
Mitchell Trubisky is much closer than people think. Check out our columnist Tommy Crab’s article called “Mitch Trubisky: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Film Review).” In Tommy’s article, he went in-depth on Mitchell Trubisky’s tape to show what he does well and what he can improve on. In Week 1, I do not remember seeing Trubisky taking many shots downfield. He took more in Week 2 and even more in Week 3. Especially in Week 3, he found his receivers downfield, but was unable to connect. He’s shown improvement in that he can find his receivers, now he just needs to make the throws. Coming out of college, Trubisky was the most accurate QB in his draft class, so it’s not like he just left his accuracy in college. I remember a pass he threw in Week 5 of 2017, his first career start. Trubisky rolled right and delivered a perfect pass to WR Tre McBride. Of course, the pass was dropped. In his article, Tommy said that Trubisky’s main problem is footwork. When he is on the windup, he doesn’t correctly set his feet, and he doesn’t correctly transfer his weight when releasing the ball. Crabs is more than right when he says that the good thing about his problem with footwork is very fixable. For a full in-depth review visit Tommy Crab’s article at www.thesportswave.net, or click on this link: https://thesportswave.net/2018/09/28/mitch-trubisky-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-film-review/.
I’m not saying that Mitchell Trubisky will be great or is a bust, but I will say that before we make any final conclusions about him, we must wait and see how he plays over the next 3-4 years. And this doesn’t go for just Mitchell Trubisky. So many people are saying that Baker Mayfield is the Browns’ savior, even though he has not started an NFL game yet (this article was written on Saturday, September 29, a day before Mayfield is scheduled to make his first career start). I’m not saying that Mayfield isn’t, I’m just saying that it’s too early to make a final verdict. Remember Dak Prescott’s magical rookie season? Yeah, it’s like his talent took a trip to the Bermuda Triangle immediately after the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the 2016 divisional round. Prescott has not been the same player since.
I’m just trying to say that when a rookie is impressing, never say that he is the next big thing until several years have gone by. When a rookie is struggling, never say he’s a bust until several years pass. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.