It looks pretty good on the surface for Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who fought off a newcomer to keep his job, delivered fourth-quarter heroics in the opener and stands 2-0 with unbending support from coach Matt Nagy.
But anybody taking an honest look at the Bears knows it’s not as simple as Bill Parcells’ old quote that “you are what your record says you are.” It’s a flawed 2-0 after squeaking by two terrible opponents, and Trubisky knows he has “definitely not” been good enough as they work toward the game Sunday at the Falcons.
“You’re always happy about the win, but not too happy because we haven’t played a full game,” Trubisky said. “We know what we’re capable of if we do play four quarters. . . . If we take care of our jobs, then we can be proud of that.”
The early progress report on Trubisky: Needs improvement.
He was magnificent in the fourth quarter against the Lions and first half against the Giants but brutally bad otherwise. His 92.7 passer rating is 17th in the NFL, and the Bears are 29th in passing yardage.
After an offseason of Nagy demanding he be better and Trubisky vowing to do so, the upgrade has been minimal.
His 59.4 completion percentage — down four points from last season and seven from 2018 — is particularly alarming. While there have been issues with the wide receivers, including Anthony Miller’s erratic play and one off game by Allen Robinson, film review shows Trubisky’s throws have been accurate only 57% of the time.
Nagy, who always has been a tremendous ally during Trubisky’s struggles, defended him and is certain the Bears are better at quarterback than they were last season.
“We definitely see enough improvement,” he said. “He knows that there’s plenty more that can happen. There’s a couple of reads that he had in [the Giants] game that . . . he didn’t get to. He knows that. Those are the [misses] that we want to eliminate because they can turn into big plays.
“There’s been a lot of growth with him in his decision-making. We talked last year: ‘Let’s not make a bad play worse, and . . . if something bad happens on one play, let’s make a good play the next.’ He’s been doing that. We haven’t had that domino effect. That, to me, is another sign of growth.”
Those are subtle but important observations by Nagy, who has shown no indication he’s considering turning to Nick Foles.
But unless the details Nagy highlighted when illustrating Trubisky’s development equate to more production, Foles still will be on everyone’s mind. Trubisky has played just well enough to hold him off but also just poorly enough that no one has forgotten Foles is an option.
The Bears’ offensive headway — they’re No. 22 in scoring, up from No. 29 last season — is largely due to their galvanized ground game. Their 284 rushing yards over the first two games are more than they had in any two consecutive games last season, and they’re 11th in the NFL at 4.7 yards per carry.
“We’ve been able to run the ball; in the passing game, we’ve gotta be better,” Robinson said. “We’ve gotta make more tough catches, gotta run crisper routes.”
And make sharper throws. And block better. It all factors into the Bears’ inconsistent passing and middling performance on third downs. They’re 19th in the NFL with 40.7% conversions, and Trubisky has completed only 54.5% of his passes.
The upside with Trubisky, and this has been true throughout his career, is that he’s not delusional. He doesn’t get fooled by his 2-0 record any more than the public does.
“I’m trying to improve in every aspect,” he said. “You try to play a perfect game. You know you’re never going to get there, but that’s what you’re striving for. There’s still throws and decisions I need to improve on . . . and that’s the goal.”