I wish I were writing how great a quarterback Mitch Trubisky is.
I truly, totally (as the kids say) wish that.
If Trubisky were great, then it would follow that the Bears are en route to a deep playoff run, if not a trip to the Super Bowl itself and the first championship for the franchise in 35 years. That’s the goal, isn’t it?
The Bears’ defense is certainly Super Bowl quality.
With Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks and a very serious safety named Ha Ha, the Bears have the skill, passion and names to be mentioned along with the legendary Buddy Ryan defenses of yore.
Even in 2006, the Bears had a terrific Brian Urlacher-led defense that propelled the team to Super Bowl XLI. But that team was undone ultimately by quarterback Rex Grossman, who was capable at times but erratic and average or overwhelmed much of the time.
Here we are with Mitch Trubisky.
Ask yourself in all seriousness: Can you see him winning a Super Bowl against, say, Tom Brady and the Patriots?
Yes, his stats from the 31-15 victory Monday night against the inept Washington team look pretty good. He went 25-for-31 for 231 yards and three touchdowns with one interception for a stellar passer rating of 116.5.
But stats can lie. Or at least they can obfuscate. And confuse.
Was that a great game you saw by a great team? Absolutely not.
Washington had some guys in the secondary who seemingly walked in from their griddle jobs at IHOP and likely will be shuffling back to those careers once real NFL players show up.
Trubisky’s first touchdown pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel covered all of three yards and was a gentle flip the likes of which you might make to your first-grader with a Nerf ball. I mean, upon rolling left, Trubisky was confronted with a field so wide-open that it appeared one or two of Washington’s DBs had already left the stadium and were tying on aprons for the late pancake shift.
A touchdown is a touchdown, yes. But what Trubisky does well is throw short passes, often right at or even behind the line of scrimmage. Ten- to 15-yarders are his long comfort zone. Indeed, Trubisky’s second TD pass to Gabriel was even shorter than the first — a one-yarder. Some of Trubisky’s short passes are more like long handoffs than passing routes.
Tru’s issues — which we did not see answered against Washington — are deep throws and accuracy and, likely, reading progression.
Yes, that was a nice 36-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel on third-and-16 late in the first half. But Gabriel is the one who gets major props for his ballerina toe-taps at the pylon, causing the refs to overturn their initial incomplete call and rule it a touchdown.
After the defense had helped stake him to a 28-3 halftime lead, Trubisky basically shut down.
If Washington weren’t so bad (I didn’t think it could be true, but it is), quarterback Case Keenum might have led them back into a possible winning position. They blew two-point conversions, piled up dumb penalties, looked like congressmen napping during a filibuster.
Here’s the thing: By his third season, an NFL quarterback should be revealing his skills, or lack thereof, with a finality that will color the rest of his career. In short, you got it or you don’t.
Trubisky’s in his third year. Do you think he’s got it? I don’t.
Listen, in his second year, 23-year-old Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. By Year 3, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had been to two Super Bowls, winning the first. The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl in his second year.
There are exceptions, of course. Drew Brees didn’t become a true superstar until he was injured, then let go by the Chargers and signed by the Saints at 27.
But if we’re talking great, don’t forget Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl in his first season as a starter, at 24. Maybe it’s unfair to compare Trubisky’s progress to that of Hall of Famers and undeniable legends. But we’re looking for greatness in a Bears quarterback, are we not?
Who wants to miss this window of opportunity afforded by a snarling defense that does everything right except, you gotta admit, celebratory tug-of-wars?
The Bears have a moment in time. A window to be the best.
We’ll watch one more game and see if Trubisky grows wings.
I’m genuinely hopeful.
But I doubt it.