Film Study: Bears QB Mitch Trubisky must throw more on earlier downs

Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 23-16 loss to the Packers in Week 10.

Throw early, often

First down must become more of a passing down for the Bears’ offense — and rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky might be more successful as a result. The Bears’ two most explosive plays against the Packers came on first down: Trubisky’s 46-yard touchdown pass to receiver Josh Bellamy and his 31-yard completion to rookie tight end Adam Shaheen. Trubisky also connected with receiver Dontrelle Inman for 17 yards on a first-down play — his fourth-longest completion of the day.

Yet in Trubisky’s five starts, running back Jordan Howard has run the ball 64 times on first down, nearly double the 34 times Trubisky has attempted passes. Trubisky’s predecessor, Mike Glennon, attempted 48 throws on first down in his four starts.

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky is sacked against the Packers. (Getty)

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According to Pro Football Reference, Trubisky has completed 18 of his 34 first-down passes for 337 yards, two touchdowns, 12 first downs, an interception, four sacks and a 94.9 passer rating. Those plays include some of his best work: a 45-yard completion to Tre McBride against the Saints, a 70-yard bomb to Tarik Cohen against the Panthers and his tipped 20-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller against the Vikings.

Against the Packers, it was clear the Bears’ offense has simply become too predictable. Ten of Howard’s 15 carries came on first down. His other five carries came on second down. For the season, Howard has 101 carries on first down, 63 on second, 12 on third and 1 on fourth, according to Pro Football Reference.

More on Mitch

After the Packers sacked him five times Sunday, Trubisky said he was holding onto the ball too long and “being careful.” Three of the sacks came on four-man rushes.

It’s a positive that Trubisky wants to protect the ball, but coach John Fox’s better-safe-than-sorry approach also could be becoming a detriment. The Packers’ final sack was an example: Trubisky rolled to his left on a naked bootleg, while Bellamy ran underneath the line and got open in the left flat. Trubisky thought he was covered.

“He wasn’t wide open — the corner trapped,” Trubisky said. “That guy was closer than he appeared. If I could have got it to [Bellamy] early, he could have split it. But, yeah, the corner trapped.”

While cornerback Davon House did break off his coverage of Inman, Bellamy was open. As Trubisky turned, Bellamy was at the hash marks; House was outside the numbers and still backpedaling.

Bad moves Bears

Packers quarterback Brett Hundley made his best plays in the fourth quarter when the Bears’ pass rushers made inside moves and allowed him to break containment. Hundley’s 17-yard scramble to his left on third down came after Pernell McPhee tried to beat left tackle David Bakhtiari to his inside.

Two plays later, Leonard Floyd spun inside right tackle Justin McCray and was blocked. That allowed Hundley to roll to his right. He then threw a back-shoulder touchdown pass to receiver Davante Adams.

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Email: ajahns@suntimes.com