Bears’ Mitch Trubisky has been best ‘where the QBs make their money’

Mitch Trubisky hasn’t thrown an interception on third down all year.

Just don’t remind him.

“Why would you jinx me?” he said Tuesday. “Come on, dude. That’s not cool. Don’t talk about it.”

Trubisky smiled, but only a little, and later joked that he better not throw one Saturday against the Lions.

Mitch Trubisky has excelled on third down. (Getty Images)

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“The best way to not do it,” he said, “is to not talk about it.”

His coaches, though, have been touting his third-down efficiency for weeks, hoping that it bodes well for the rookie quarterback’s growth in other areas.

In a lost season, nothing is more important.

Trubisky’s 97.3 passer rating on third down ranks sixth in the NFL. Of the five above him, four — Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff — have been among the league’s top quarterbacks this season. In fifth place is Jets quarterback Josh
McCown, who underwent a career renaissance before breaking his hand Sunday.

“That’s where the quarterbacks make their money,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “That’s when they know they’re throwing. We know we’re gonna throw.”

Trubisky is 47-for-73 for 568 yards with two touchdowns on third down. Sorting the top 25 by passer rating, Trubisky is only one of two quarterbacks — Ryan Fitzpatrick is the other — to not have a third-down interception.

“Whoever executes on third down,” Trubisky said, “is usually gonna get it right.”

That takes arm talent but also an ability to change calls and protections at the line of scrimmage after determining the threat from extra rushers. Contrast that with Trubisky’s first road start, when the Bears thought the best way to protect the rookie was to go no-huddle on third down to prevent the Ravens from substituting their best rushers.

“On most third downs, a lot of teams send a lot of exotic blitzes and things like that,” said receiver Kendall Wright, who caught passes to convert two third downs, both against five-man rushes. “For a young quarterback, it helps if he can get the ball out of his hand.”

Even when blitzers got near Trubisky, Loggains said, he was able to get the ball out.

“It’s just a sign of growth, of understanding how all 11 people are affected by pressures and where your hot [reads] are,” Loggains said. “And it’s just another step that he’s taking on a road game vs. a really good defense and a tough third-down package.”

Tackle Bobby Massie credits Trubisky’s calm in the pocket, and take-charge attitude in the huddle.

“Mitch will tell us to shut the [hell] up in the huddle,” he said. “He’s going to be a good quarterback.”

The Bears spend Thursday practices highlighting third-down plays. Trubisky credited that preparedness, among a litany of reasons, with giving him confidence to throw the ball to the right spot.

And to the right team.

“Just working hard on third down, trusting my guys, and, again, being aggressive within the timing of the play,” he said. “And trusting my reads and just continuing to use my accuracy and use good footwork is just what’s going to allow us to stay good on third down.

“Taking care of the football is always a No. 1 priority, so we’re going to just continue to focus on that.”

Even if he doesn’t want to say it out loud.

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@patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com