Bears’ Matt Nagy sees ‘a lot better’ play from QB Mitch Trubisky, but it’s taking too long

Maybe Trubisky has made progress, if the baseline Nagy’s using is his completely ineffective game against the Eagles. The last two have been better, but the Bears are asking for too much patience in Year 3.

SHARE Bears’ Matt Nagy sees ‘a lot better’ play from QB Mitch Trubisky, but it’s taking too long
Trubisky has an 89.4 passer rating over his last two games.

Trubisky has an 89.4 passer rating over his last two games.

Mark J. Terrill/AP

The “incremental improvement” the Bears want from quarterback Mitch Trubisky is now being measured in millimeters.

Coach Matt Nagy’s latest defense of Trubisky is that he has definitively “gotten a lot better” the last two weeks, and if he truly believes that, he’s looking at this through a stronger microscope than everyone else.

Or he’s using different criteria altogether.

If the baseline is the Eagles game, in which Trubisky steered the offense to the franchise’s worst first half in the modern era, then, sure, he has been better in the two games since.

“I’m going to go back to what I really like — and what I’m sticking to and what I believe in — is the last two weeks, he’s growing in the right direction,” Nagy said. “So that’s where we’re at and . . . we want to put a good week together, get him healthy and hopefully get him out there this weekend to do it again.”

Trubisky appears to be reasonably recovered from a hip pointer and practiced in full again Thursday, which is quite a turnaround after ailing so badly that Nagy pulled him against the Rams. All signs point to him starting against the Giants on Sunday.

Does that excite anyone?

The key words in Nagy’s argument that Trubisky has made progress are “that’s where we’re at.” Here’s where they’re at with the quarterback they traded up to draft No. 2 overall:

Of 33 qualifying quarterbacks, he’s last in yards per pass (5.6) and per game (175.6), 26th in passer rating (82.2) and 23rd in completion percentage (62.4), and only Mason Rudolph averages fewer yards beyond the line of scrimmage on his completions (4.7). Other than cutting back on interceptions, all his numbers are down significantly from last season.

When those are the broad strokes, any uptick looks really good. That’s definitely not “where we’re at” in Kansas City and Houston with the other first-round quarterbacks from his draft class. The bar is higher for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

Nagy’s narrative is that it’s a collective failure by the offense and Trubisky’s progress can’t be defined by statistics. Both points are valid as he deals with inconsistency from the receivers and offensive line.

The two games that encouraged Nagy were a 20-13 victory against the Lions and a 17-7 loss to the Rams. If we’re going to split hairs in search of improvement, it’s also fair to nitpick.

Against the Lions, who ranked 31st defensively, he caught fire on three touchdown drives in a row. The Bears punted on their other nine possessions, including seven three-and-outs, and Trubisky completed 6 of 11 passes for 41 yards.

His line against the Rams was 24-for-43 for 190 yards (4.4 per pass), a touchdown pass and an interception. He lost about 43 yards on five drops, one of which was intercepted. Those catches would’ve helped, but they wouldn’t magically turn his game into a masterpiece.

The combined 89.4 passer rating against the Lions and Rams was up from Trubisky’s 80 over his first seven games, but it takes optimism and a fine-tooth comb to find meaningful advances.

“We’ve all put in a lot of time and energy and hard work to get where we’re at, [but] we’re not where we want to be,” Nagy said. “But I’ll say this: The last two weeks . . . he has, without a doubt, gotten a lot better at the quarterback position. Decision-making, throws — where he’s at the last two weeks has been a lot better.”

The Bears are back to baby steps at quarterback. Nagy might be correct that there has been development, but the defense’s window won’t be open forever, and if progress keeps coming at this painstakingly slow rate, the Bears will run out of time.

Everyone else is already out of patience.

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