On the eve of training camp, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky refused to entertain the notion that his second season would resemble his first because he was learning a new offense under a new coach. The 12 games of experience he got last season didn’t disappear just because John Fox had been replaced by Matt Nagy.
Trubisky was right — and he wasn’t. Because when he hit his 16th start last week — a milestone equivalent to a full season’s worth of games — his position coach said his two seasons weren’t weighted the same.
‘‘The whole what-he-did or compare-the-16-games — I get that’s the number that has been thrown out,’’ said quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, the only holdover from the 2017 offensive staff. ‘‘But, for me, it’s four games into a regime that hopefully he can grow in and does good things in.’’
Judging Trubisky, then, is tricky business.
At first blush, his totals look amazingly like those of the Bears’ last long-term quarterback. In eight seasons with the Bears, Jay Cutler had an 85.2 passer rating, completed 61.8 percent of his passes, averaged 7.2 yards per attempt and had a 1.41 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
In 16 games with the Bears, Trubisky has an 84.3 passer rating, has completed 62.4 percent of his passes, has averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and has a 1.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The difference, of course, is the hope that Trubisky will improve with the benefit of experience and tutelage from Nagy. Start No. 16 marked his greatest leap yet. Against an awful Buccaneers defense, Trubisky threw six of his 15 career touchdown passes.
It took that statistical surge to bring him into the pack of his peers — not ideal, given that the Bears traded up to make him the top quarterback selected in the NFL Draft in 2017, but better than the alternative.
Eight quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the 2015-17 drafts. Five — the Rams’ Jared Goff, the Eagles’ Carson Wentz, the Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston, the Titans’ Marcus Mariota and Trubisky — have made at least 16 starts.
Compared with the other four quarterbacks’ first 16 starts, Trubisky ranks last with 3,138 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes. His 10 interceptions, however, are the fewest among the five, and his 84.3 passer rating ranks third.
After the Bears’ 3-1 start, Trubisky has a career record of 7-9. Goff and Wentz also won seven of their first 16 games, with Winston and Mariota winning fewer.
The experience of going 4-8 last season had its benefits. Trubisky said that, while he always has had good emotional control, 2017 helped him learn how to deal with adversity.
‘‘Last year, it was more, ‘Oh, he’s a rookie, growing pains,’ ’’ Trubisky said last month. ‘‘Now it’s a little different because it’s like, ‘Oh, second year, why isn’t the offense exploding?’ And I ask myself some of those same questions: ‘Why aren’t I playing as well as I’d like to?’ ’’
He has played better since. How well he plays the rest of the season will depend on how he meshes Nagy’s system with his experience.
‘‘He gained exposure to NFL defenses in hostile environments against some pretty good defenses last year, and he held his own, for the most part, as a rookie quarterback,’’ Ragone said. ‘‘And he put us in some positions at least to have a chance to win games, if not win them. To me, that’s the mental part of it.
‘‘Forget the ‘What did we run and how did we run it?’ Forget all that. He’s into something new this year. What he gained was the ability to go out there and be backed up at the 3-yard line in Baltimore or be in a ‘Monday Night Football’ game in his first start against Minnesota or play in Cincinnati and feel that good vibe of beating a quality football team.
‘‘All those things, those are the things that we look for.’’
Here’s how Mitch Trubisky’s first 16 starts compare with those of four other quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2015-17:
Name/Team/Record/Comp.-Att./Yards/Comp. %/TD/INT/Sacks/Passer rating
NOTE: Three other quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2015-17 — the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Texans’ Deshaun Watson and former Bronco Paxton Lynch — have yet to reach 16 starts.