Hold your fire — Trubisky’s potential still trumps Daniel’s efficiency
The backup QB’s command and confidence could make it interesting if he’s good again Sunday, but Trubisky’s development is still Job 1 at Halas Hall.
LONDON — Chase Daniel’s production in relief of Mitch Trubisky against the Vikings last week was impressive. But the way he did it — with command and confidence — was almost disconcerting.
If Daniel can look that much like a quarterback in coach Matt Nagy’s offense, why can’t Trubisky?
Truth be told, there have been times when Trubisky has looked that good in Nagy’s offense. But not that often. And not this year — except for the last-ditch pass to Allen Robinson that set up Eddy Pineiro’s winning field goal against the Broncos in Week 2.
So Daniel’s winning performance against the Vikings was also a reminder of the laborious step-by-step process to develop Trubisky into an elite quarterback who runs an offense like he has done it all his life.
Daniel is the lesser chef who knows the recipe by heart. Trubisky is the prodigy who has to keep looking down to see if it’s one teaspoon or one tablespoon. Not that Daniel suddenly looked like Drew Brees. But the difference between the 33-year-old journeyman and the 25-year-old wunderkind was stark enough to leave you wondering, with a bit of exasperation: If you could merge Daniel’s command and confidence with Trubisky’s athleticism and skill set, you’d have a quarterback worth trading up for.
So the question was put to Nagy this week: Why is that? Why does a quarterback who has started four NFL games look so much more in command? And how close is Trubisky to getting there?
‘‘There’s a lot to that question,” Nagy said. “The first part is who Chase is — he’s really past the line with regard to command or [being] vocal. Not a lot of quarterbacks are like that.
‘‘That part you feel when you talk to him in a news conference. You feel it at practice; the players feel it. That’s just who he is. I’ve been around other quarterbacks that are really good that aren’t like that.”
Right now it looks like the former undrafted free agent has more of the “it” factor than the 2017 No. 2 overall pick — kind of a red flag at this point. But Nagy is confident — or at least hopeful — that Trubisky will get there when he has as many overall snaps under his belt as Daniel.
“The second part is some of the experience, as well,” Nagy said. “I know Chase hasn’t had a lot of starts in the NFL, but he’s been in a lot of practices; he’s been in a lot of preseason games. And he’s played in a lot of college games. You put all that together, there’s a confidence and a trust in himself, and you feel that.”
The Bears were in a similar scenario in 2013 under Marc Trestman, when Josh McCown had a 109.0 passer rating in eight games (five starts) in place of Jay Cutler (89.2). Even if Cutler still was the better quarterback, the lament was similar — if you could merge McCown’s efficiency and risk aversion with Cutler’s arm and physical talent, you’d have yourself a winning quarterback.
The difference is that Cutler was a finished product. At 30, he wasn’t getting better. Even with optimal offensive circumstances in 2013 — a quarterback-whisperer coach, the best weapons he ever had and an offensive line that started all 16 games together — he was only marginally better statistically than he had ever been.
But Trubisky still has the growth factor in his favor, at least presumably. He can get better. His supporting cast can get better. And Nagy can get better. Trubisky’s not going anywhere.
So if Daniel is good again Sunday against the Raiders — a test he failed last year against the Giants — hold your fire. Nagy still is at the point where anything Daniel does in the Bears’ offense, Trubisky ultimately will be able to do better.