On a roll, Bears QB Mitch Trubisky faces big hurdle vs. Belichick, Patriots’ ‘D’
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Mitch Trubisky’s status as a franchise quarterback seems a long way from being settled. He has started only 17 NFL games.
But after a monumental six-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers and a productive one in defeat against the Dolphins — the highest cumulative passer rating in back-to-back games (277.1) for a Bears quarterback since 1955 — the belief that Trubisky tilts the field in their favor already exists within Halas Hall.
“I absolutely think that Mitch gives us an edge,” right guard Kyle Long said. “He does so many things well. His intangibles are off the charts. But I think his comfort level is growing. His role is becoming more defined. He really is a catalyst for this offense. We have trust in Mitch.”
By the numbers and the eye test, it’s clear Trubisky is maturing as a quarterback and growing in Matt Nagy’s offense. With 11 touchdown passes and four interceptions, his 105.6 passer rating is seventh in the NFL, which is right behind Patrick Mahomes (112.2) and Jared Goff (110.9).
The bad decisions and missed opportunities often are obvious, but they’re not enough to negate the progress Trubisky is making.
He even picked up a hearty endorsement from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who marveled at Trubisky’s 47-yard pass play to Taylor Gabriel against the Dolphins. Trubisky made a pinpoint deep throw down the left sideline, and Gabriel made an impressive catch as he was falling on his back.
“That’s about as good a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year,” Belichick said. “The execution on that was like 99 out of 100. It was a great, great throw, great route, great catch. There was like a few inches to get the ball in there 50 yards downfield, and that’s where it was.”
Belichick doesn’t see a thrower, but a winner in Trubisky.
“I think the most important thing for a quarterback is winning football games,” Belichick said. “I don’t think it’s about stats. It’s about doing what it takes to help your team win, and I think he’s done a good job of that. The quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the playmaker and let them go. I think he’s done a good job of that. He’s a tough kid, which I respect.”
Coming off back-to-back games with a combined nine touchdown passes and one interception, Trubisky will get a litmus test of sorts against a Patriots defense that forces quarterbacks to raise their game mentally as well as physically and makes them pay for their inexperience. Second-year quarterbacks are 8-32 against the Patriots in the Belichick era, with only five having a passer rating of higher than 95.0.
It’s a test of focus and mental toughness. Belichick defenses generally are vulnerable but opportunistic. They give up yards but put the clamps on in key moments. Last season, the Patriots’ defense was 29th in yards allowed but fifth in points allowed. It was the fourth time in the last eight years it ranked 25th or lower in yards and in the top 10 in points.
“They are opportunistic, with really good players,” Nagy said. “There are times when if they need to make a stop, a big third-down stop or they need to get an interception in the red zone, you’ve seen recently they can do that.”
Trubisky knows what he’s up against, but they all do. The challenge is to keep your head in the heat of battle, slow the game down, see the whole field and make the right decision. In other words, you have to become a quarterback.
“You know he’s going to try to throw out a couple of confusing looks and blitzes and get after the quarterback. They’re going to confuse you as much as possible,” Trubisky said. “You just have to trust what you see. If we just trust what we do, I think it’ll all work out.”