A Patrick Mahomes-Deshaun Watson meeting, and more painful reminders of what might have been for Bears
The best you can say about the entire situation is that Bears GM Ryan Pace might, in time, fingers crossed, be right about Mitch Trubisky. But he was oh-so wrong about the two quarterbacks he passed on.
For those of you pained and haunted by the presence of Mitch Trubisky on the Bears’ roster, critical mass was reached Sunday.
The NFL schedule delivered the first meeting between the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, two extremely talented quarterbacks whom Bears general manager Ryan Pace deemed unworthy of taking with his first-round pick in the 2017 draft.
This on a day when the Bears and their fans were attempting to enjoy a bye week.
Did Pace watch the Texans-Chiefs game or did he feel a pressing need to dust his living-room furniture?
Watson, who threw for 280 yards and tossed two interceptions, completed a daring pass on fourth-and-three to put the game away for the Texans in a 31-24 road victory. Think the Bears would have taken that risk with Trubisky?
Mahomes, the reigning NFL most valuable player, threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry.
While Mahomes and Watson have been busy tearing up the league in their young careers, Bears fans have spent the last two-plus seasons debating whether Trubisky will ever be good.
The best you can say about the entire situation is that Pace might, in time, fingers crossed, be right about Trubisky. But he was oh-so wrong about the two quarterbacks he passed on. He traded up one spot to take Trubisky second overall in 2017. Mahomes went 10th and Watson 12th.
The Bears like to spread the fiction that Trubisky is actually in his second year in the league because his first season was spent playing for a different coach than Matt Nagy. As if his 12 starts as a rookie never happened. As if running another coach’s offense had no obvious benefits.
OK, let’s play that game, as bogus as it is, for a second. Mahomes started one game his rookie season, which I believe is the real definition of a season that doesn’t count. Anyway, after winning the starting job the next year with hardly any experience under his belt, he went on to the lead the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, threw for 5,097 yards and had a passer rating of 113.8. He has been even better this year.
After starting six games his rookie season, Watson threw for 4,165 yards last year and had only nine interceptions even though he was sacked a league-high 62 times.
Trubisky is averaging 147 passing yards a game this year. Maybe he’s having a sophomore slump in his third season.
I really don’t mean to pick on Trubisky, but it’s what happens when you start analyzing Pace’s decision. And when a Watson-Mahomes matchup is right there on your TV screen, you can’t help but look in Pace’s direction and say, “Really?”
Heading into the game, Mahomes’ career passer rating was 112.4, Watson’s was 105.4 and Trubisky’s 86.9.
Trubisky’s career yards per pass is 6.9. None of that dinky stuff for Mahomes (8.9) and Watson (8.3). Trubisky, who has missed most of the last two games with a left-shoulder injury, has an anemic 5.5 average this season.
It’s not just numbers and talent that separate Mahomes and Watson from Trubisky. It’s feel. You sit there on a Sunday afternoon and watch a pair of quarterbacks play a brand of football with which you, a Chicagoan, are thoroughly unfamiliar. Mahomes throws to a variety of receivers using a variety of arm angles. He throws no-look passes. Sometimes Trubisky can’t even throw look passes.
If you haven’t listened to Watson describe a play’s intricacies yet, Google “Deshaun breaks down play.’’ It’s clear that he understands the nuances of a defense and, more, that he knows what to do with the ball in his hands. It helps explain how he threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns last week against the Falcons.
There have been too many instances when Trubisky hasn’t looked past his primary receiver.
And so footballs were flung and spun over great expanses of green grass in Kansas City, Missouri. So were penalty flags, 21 between the teams, splashes of yellow paint on what was supposed to be a work of art.
Both quarterbacks are surrounded by more offensive talent than Trubisky is. Better receivers and better running backs.
On a third-and-21 after the Houston defense had jumped offside, Mahomes hit a leaping Tyreek Hill with a 46-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. The most notable thing about that play was that it wasn’t notable. It was business as usual.
Mahomes, playing with an ankle injury, threw an interception in the second quarter, mention-worthy because it was his first pick of the season.
I won’t depress you by trying to imagine what a pairing of an excellent Bears defense with a Bears quarterback named Watson or Mahomes would look like. But surely Pace understands that his legacy as an executive will be tied to whatever Trubisky does. If Trubisky continues on the unremarkable path he’s on, Pace will be the GM who let his own quarterback spoil the best efforts of the Bears’ defense. He’ll get high marks for landing Khalil Mack in a trade, but that will be more than offset by the Trubisky decision.
The good news is that there’s still time for Trubisky to develop.
The bad news is that the Chiefs and Texans played each other. And we couldn’t help but notice.