Time has come for Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky to take a step forward
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‘‘He was OK. Nothing special,’’ Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark said to Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm after the Bears’ 24-17 victory Monday at Soldier Field. ‘‘Average quarterback.’’
Clark was speaking of Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky is the Bears’ golden-winged hope, the young man who, we have been told, will make us forget decades of Bears quarterback cutouts (Rusty Lisch, Steve Walsh, Cade McNown, Steve Stenstrom) and, of course, vanquish the dispiriting stain left by Jay Cutler, the bland, emotion-free dude who made Bears fans wonder whether there is a polar opposite to a speed freak. Because Cutler was it.
No, this is either an early-career death notice for Trubisky or a serious call to arms.
In his two games this season, a loss and a victory, Trubisky has looked quite good for moments, then average, then bad.
First the good: His spiral can zip. His release is quick. He threw for two touchdowns against the Seahawks, even though one was a shovel pass that traveled about five yards. His scripted plays look nice.
Now the average: He’s not wily enough to see third and fourth reads, as great improvisers do. He gets happy feet a little too quickly. He hasn’t thrown the deep ball with great accuracy.
Now the bad: He hasn’t won a game yet. The Khalil Mack-led defense handed him the victory against the Seahawks by turning opposing quarterback Russell Wilson into spinning top. Cornerback Prince Amukamara’s late interception for a touchdown sealed it.
The game against the Packers in Week 1 was there for the taking, but Trubisky became a smoking dud in the second half, letting a 20-point lead vanish. He seems afraid to go deep very often — maybe because he has been told not to, maybe because he doesn’t trust himself.
Worst of all, he has shown no ability to lead a pressure-packed comeback victory, which is pretty much what earns NFL quarterbacks their stripes. If you can’t be a great two-minute guy, you’ll never be much in the bigs.
Maybe it would be helpful if the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes weren’t averaging five touchdown passes in two games this season. Mahomes is a second-year quarterback, like Trubisky — only drafted eight spots later — and, well, who knew? Apparently, the Chiefs did because they felt good enough about Mahomes to deal solid veteran Alex Smith to the Redskins during the offseason.
And whose offensive system is Mahomes running? The one developed by Bears coach Matt Nagy when he was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator last season. And it doesn’t work for Trubisky with Nagy right there?
Clark had more to say about Trubisky.
‘‘Pressure is his downfall,’’ Clark said. ‘‘You can get pressure up the middle and in his face, and he throws those errant passes like that. That’s how you can beat him.’’
OK, let’s remember that the Seahawks didn’t beat the Bears. And that maybe it will take a full season in Nagy’s system, as Mahomes had, to take those Superman leaps and bounds.
So far, however, all Trubisky has done is tease us with ups and downs. Remember how many seasons Cutler teased us in similar fashion?
Trubisky’s quarterback rating last season was 77.5. His rating this season is 80.0. His career rating is 77.9. None is particularly good.
Consider that Walsh had a passer rating of 77.9 with the Bears. Kyle Orton had one of 79.6 in 2008. Heck, Brian Hoyer had a passer rating of 98.0 with the Bears in 2016.
Consider also that Trubisky’s two interceptions Monday should have been three, that he threw seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions last season and that he has thrown two of each this season. That’s a 1-1 ratio. Bad.
Maybe Sunday against the woeful Cardinals will be when Trubisky breaks out, puts a whole game together and throws for 350 yards and a bunch of touchdowns, such as, well, Mahomes.
Yes, Trubisky has played only 14 NFL games, but he has passed for more than 200 yards only three times. Consider that Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick already has 819 yards passing in two games to Trubisky’s 371, and — ah, why pile on?
To win big, you need your defense to be great and your offense to be great at the same time. They each had better be rock-solid, at least.
Right now, the Bears have half of that. The offense part — the quarterback part — is blowing in the breeze.