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Film study: Bears QB Mitch Trubisky keeps making the same mistakes

In four years, Mitch Trubisky has gone from No. 2 overall pick to “I don’t see why not” starter.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws against the Packers.
AP Photos

There are tepid endorsements, then there’s this: a declaration with all the sizzle of refrigerated mashed potatoes. Just listen to how Bears coach Matt Nagy answered Monday when asked if Mitch Trubisky would be the starting quarterback — over Nick Foles, who hasn’t practiced since Nov. 14 — on Sunday against the Lions.

“I’ve got to see where Nick’s at and keep talking with Mitch,” Nagy said. “But I thought personally that from what he played and how he played yesterday in the situation that we were in, I don’t see why not.”

In four years, Trubisky has gone from No. 2 overall pick to “I don’t see why not” starter.

Nagy has plenty of reasons to be unenthused about Trubisky after the Bears’ 41-25 loss Sunday night at Lambeau Field:

The first pick

The Bears were marching on their second possession when, on first-and-10 at the Packers’ 37, Trubisky faked a handoff out of the I-formation and threw deep — into double coverage in the end zone.

Cornerback Chandon Sullivan was blanketing rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney. Trubisky thought safety Darnell Savage was playing the post. Instead, Savage broke deep on Mooney’s corner route — “whirlybirding,” quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said — and caught the ball in stride.

Whatever momentum the Bears had, died.

“Anytime you call a play like that, the purpose of the play call is to take a shot and try to get it over the top of their head,” DeFilippo said. “Unfortunately, I know it sounds like an easy cop-out, those things happen sometimes on plays like that.”

It does sound like a cop-out. Given the circumstances — the Bears trailed 13-3 but were on the verge of getting back within a score in the second quarter — it was inexcusable.

“Definitely looking back on it, I forced it a little too much,” Trubisky said Sunday night, a refrain that’s four years old. “I probably would have liked to check it down or scramble, but I was trying to be aggressive early on. That’s what we were preaching this week as a team. . . . But in hindsight, definitely I would have liked to have checked that down. Just not have forced it so much.”

The second pick

Down by three scores in the second quarter, the Bears had to all but abandon the game plan of play-action passes, bootlegs, screens and pre-snap movement they crafted for Trubisky. The Bears ran 48 of their 70 plays in no-huddle, Nagy said, to chase points.

‘‘It just comes down to math at that point, right?” pass-game coordinator Dave Ragone said. “You’re trying to figure out how many possessions you really have left.”

On third-and-11 about six minutes into the third quarter, Trubisky tried a deep crossing route to wide receiver Anthony Miller, who lined up in the right slot. Miller had defenders in front, behind and to the right of him. The sideline was to his left. Savage, in front of Miller, picked off the pass

Wide receiver Allen Robinson, who split far right, ran a dig route two yards beyond the sticks and was wide open when Trubisky decided to throw into triple coverage.

“I think he obviously saw something as a matchup,” Ragone said. “The reality is — and the way the play unfolded, obviously — it went to the advantage for Green Bay to make the play there. Again, it goes back to kind of just in general what we’ve ingrained in Mitchell, the aggressive mindset. I think he thought he had an opportunity there. The reality is it didn’t work out.”

No help

Nagy bemoaned the Bears’ first drive more than any other aspect of his offense. After David Montgomery had a career-best run of 57 yards, the Bears faced first-and-goal at the 8.

On first down, they ran for a loss of one.

On second down, Trubisky found rookie tight end Cole Kmet at the 1-yard line, but he dropped the ball when linebacker Christian Kirksey wedged his left hand toward the ball.

On third down, the Bears lined up in an empty backfield with Robinson tight left. Matched with safety Raven Greene, Robinson stuttered and sprinted to the end zone. He leaped, and Trubisky hit him in both hands with a pass. With his back to the quarterback, Greene punched the ball out as Robinson was landing. Cornerback Kevin King hit Robinson out of bounds.

“You’ve just got to guarantee that catch in those situations when you’re in the end zone on third down in those tight windows,” receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “That’s for big-time players. Obviously, we have high expectations for A-Rob, and he does, too.”

After the game, Robinson called the pass “something that I want to have back.”

Kmet told Nagy after the Bears settled for a field goal that he needed to catch the ball.

“He missed it,” Nagy said. “He understands that.”

Same old stuff

Bears coaches still praise the same small gains when describing Trubisky’s play — the way you’d talk about a rookie. Nagy singled out third-down throws but also Trubisky’s “cadence” and “progressions.” DeFilippo praised his “command” and “tempo in and out of the huddle” — which is a first cousin of “he practiced well.”

It all rings so hollow.

During a training-camp practice Aug. 20, Trubisky ran a pass play at the 1-yard line. Chased by a defender along the sideline, he stepped out of bounds for a loss. Had he merely thrown the ball out of bounds, it would have been second-and-goal at the 1.

“Those are critical errors that we can’t have,” Nagy said at the time. “He’s not going to do that again.”

On Sunday night, he did it again. On the third play of the second half, Trubisky scrambled right and ran out of bounds for a loss of three. He pump-faked but never threw the ball away.

“Obviously, that can’t happen,” DeFilippo said. “And Mitch got a little confused on the run and where he was at on the field.”

DeFilippo said Trubisky’s “sight line” — how he got his hips and feet pointed toward the target — grew less sharp as the game wore on. That’s common for quarterbacks when they’re dropping back on almost every play, but the fact remains: Trubisky touted his improved footwork when the season began.

And then there’s decision-making that, four years into his career, still needs fixing.

As a young golfer, Ragone said he was taught that the good scorecards are the result of not how good your good holes are, but how good your bad ones are.

“The reality is, when you play quarterback, you just hope your bad decisions aren’t fatal,” Ragone said. “Your bad decision, you hope, lands incomplete, gets knocked down.

“When your bad plays, your bad decisions end up being some form of turnover, and then those situations start to build momentum for the defense, that’s not what you want.”

But that’s what they got.