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Mitch Trubisky’s development is hardly a Brees, but it could be

As Patrick Mahomes and other quarterbacks have instant success, coach Matt Nagy preaches patience and points to Saints QB Drew Brees as proof that some things take time.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky (left) and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (right) chat after the Saints’ 20-12 victory at the Superdome in 2017. For what it’s worth, Brees had an 87.9 passer rating in his first six seasons as a starter, but 102.0 in his last 12.
AP Photos

It was an interesting twist to a compelling story: Coach Matt Nagy showed his team the Saints’ winning rally against the Texans in Week 1 — Drew Brees driving his team 35 yards in six plays in the final 37 seconds for Wil Lutz’s 58-yard field goal — and the Bears copied it with a similar last-minute drive for Eddy Pineiro’s 53-yard field goal that beat the Broncos last week.

But maybe Nagy should have backed up the tape a bit. If there was anything about that game the Bears need to emulate, it was the two pinpoint throws by Deshaun Watson that gave the Texans a touchdown that put the Saints in that predicament to begin with. Down six points with no timeouts and 50 seconds left, Watson needed only two plays and 13 seconds to score — a perfect 38-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins over Marshon Lattimore down the left sideline and a dart to Kenny Stills over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown that gave the Texans the lead with 37 seconds left.

Get a quarterback who can make those throws, and, with the defense Nagy has at his disposal, he rarely will have to depend on one-second-and-the-ball to save the day.

No matter how much the Bears focus on the kicker, it always comes back to the quarterback. As the Bears’ deliberate, step-by-step development of assembly-required Mitch Trubisky proceeds, plug-and-play quarterbacks such as Watson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes provide evidence of how arduous the Trubisky process doesn’t have to be.

And just when you come to grips with the idea that Mahomes is a special guy the Bears — and others — missed, another example pops up. Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round draft pick, threw two touchdown passes without an interception in a 20-7 victory Thursday against the Titans. In three games in place of injured starter Nick Foles, Minshew is completing 73.9 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and one interception for a 110.6 rating.

Minshew’s staying power remains to be seen. But just the immediate short-term success is notable. If a rookie who was a backup throughout the preseason can come in cold and play with that efficiency, what’s taking Trubisky so long?

‘‘Instant gratification — the world we’re in right now,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We brought Gardner in [during the draft process]. We got to [see] the type of person he is; he’s very, very smart. He’s a competitor, and it doesn’t surprise me the success he’s having.

‘‘With that said, every scenario is different for every quarterback. There are some soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterbacks — one, in particular — that [in] Year 2 with a particular coach, after four games, had one touchdown, nine interceptions, a [57.4] rating and a [63] percent completion percentage. And he is now about to be an instant Hall of Fame quarterback.’’

The quarterback is the Saints’ Drew Brees, who indeed struggled in his second season in Sean Payton’s offense in 2007. Brees, though, had a much stronger foundation. In his first season with Payton in 2006, he was the runner-up to Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson for the NFL’s MVP award after leading the league with 4,418 passing yards.

But even if it’s cherry-picking, the general point is a fair one. Some quarterbacks take time. In his first six seasons as a starter, Brees’ career passer rating was 87.9 — ranking 24th, 28th, third, 10th, third and 11th in that span. His Hall of Fame career didn’t really take off until 2008, when he was 29.

‘‘I understand everyone wants it now, now, now; I get it,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘So I need to make sure that I pull back and stay patient with our offense and who we are because there’s a lot of evidence out there of this [developmental rate] where the story’s a really good ending.’’

The Bears’ game Monday against the Redskins is where it has to start. Trubisky’s first two duds can be rationalized, to a degree. He had not thrown a pass in the preseason going into the opener, and he was going against Vic Fangio, who knows him better than any opponent in the league, in Week 2. The Packers and Broncos might end up being two of the better defenses in the NFL this season. And Nagy’s game plans haven’t helped: He is 0-2 in his matchups against Mike Pettine and Fangio. He needs to be better, as well.

Now it’s up to Trubisky to live up to Nagy’s belief in him.

‘‘We see it every day in practice; we see what’s there,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We know what we’ve done the last two games. That’s not what we want to be at all. But there’s patience involved in that, and there’s zero panic. Do we want to be better in Week 1 and Week 2? Yes. What are the reasons for that? That’s our job to figure out those solutions. That’s why we have 16 games, is to figure that out.’’

With this defense, Trubisky doesn’t have to be Mahomes to take the Bears to the playoffs or the Big Game. But is it too much to ask him to be Minshew? It’s a fair question, but Nagy doesn’t allow himself to be affected by what other quarterbacks are doing.

‘‘It doesn’t [complicate matters] because there’s been a lot of good classes that have ended up being great classes,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It doesn’t shock me with Kansas City and what’s going on there with coach [Andy] Reid and Patrick. And then you talk about a guy like Deshaun Watson and what they’re doing in Houston.

‘‘But I remember specifically dealing with all three of those quarterbacks [in the 2017 draft], them talking about wanting to be the best quarterback class ever. But that doesn’t happen in two or three years. They’re all going to have their highs and lows. We need to face that.

‘‘We understand that we want to make it happen as fast as possible, but there has to be a little patience involved. As much as people don’t want to hear that, that’s what’s real. And that’s the hardest part for everybody. It’s hard for us; we want it now, too. It’s our job to figure out solutions. And that’s what we need to do.’’