MORRISSEY: It’s Mitch Trubisky-Carson Wentz compare-and-contrast week!
I wonder if Mitch Trubisky has any idea what’s about to hit him — and I’m not talking about on the football field.
The Bears play the Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia, and Trubisky will be bundled with Carson Wentz all week. You thought the Bears’ rookie quarterback was under a microscope before? That will look like a pair of weak reading glasses compared with what we’ll use to dissect his abilities heading into Sunday’s game. Some of the comparisons will be realistic, and some will be ridiculous. I’m sure I’ll dip a toe in both pools.
There’s no escaping this: The Bears made Trubisky the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, and the Eagles made Wentz the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. Both teams traded up to get its man.
Wentz is already great, and if Trubisky has great written all over him, it’s not in indelible ink just yet. There’s a very good chance it’s going to take longer for him to be excellent, thanks to his lack of experience and the Bears’ innate Bearness.
So this week is about looking at Wentz and seeing what Trubisky is, what he isn’t and what he might be someday. It will be overkill and – I can’t stress this enough – it’s OK. It really is. Trubisky is the lone source of hope for anyone with the slightest interest or the slightest emotional investment in the Bears. If you squint when you look at him, you just might be able to see Wentz.
Everything Trubisky seems to be doing these days, both good and bad, is based on his athleticism. That makes sense. He didn’t play much in college, and he’s still new to a pro-style offense. He’s relying on instinct. He had several bad throws Sunday against the Lions, one of which should have been intercepted. He had several nice passes to tight end Adam Shaheen, one for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Ups and downs are part of any quarterback’s early development. But you either have what it takes to evade pressure and tackles on a 19-yard scramble to give your team a chance to win a game, as Trubisky did late against the Lions, or you don’t. Not many quarterbacks have that ability. Wentz happens to be one of them.
Trubisky’s development figures to be slower than Wentz’s, maybe much slower. The Eagles quarterback played in a pro-style offense at North Dakota State. He started 23 games in college, 10 more than Trubisky did at North Carolina. Trubisky is still learning to take snaps under center, something he didn’t do often as a Tar Heel. The Lions ran his fumbled snap in for a touchdown Sunday.
The 9-1 Eagles are wonderful, and the 3-7 Bears are very much not. So right there, any comparisons between the quarterbacks are flawed. Wentz has excellent receivers to throw to, including former Bear Alshon Jeffery. Running a finger down the Bears’ roster only reaffirms what we already knew, that Trubisky has few receivers of any substance or experience. It’s why he rarely throws deep despite a powerful arm.
Wentz has thrown at least two touchdown passes in eight of the Eagles’ 10 games this season. In three different games, he threw four touchdown passes. Trubisky has a total of four TD passes in his six starts. Wentz was good, not great Sunday night, and Philadelphia still destroyed the Cowboys 37-9. (While I have you, can we put a petition together to stop ESPN’s wall-to-wall Cowboys coverage? Thank you.)
Wentz started hot last season, with seven touchdown passes and one interception as the Eagles won three of their first four games. Then he threw nine TD passes and 13 interceptions in his last 12 games. I wish the Bears would unleash Trubisky the way the Eagles did with Wentz in his rookie season, warts be damned.
It was a wonder Trubisky could move at all against the Panthers last month, what with his throwing arm being tied behind his back by the coaching staff. He threw only seven passes in that game. Wentz throws seven passes when he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. He averaged 38 passes a game as a rookie.
Things have improved for Trubisky, with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains finally seeing the light and allowing him to throw a total of 97 passes the past three games. You don’t have to be a football expert to see the kid’s ability. Most of his problems are with decision-making, though he had more off-target passes Sunday than I had seen from him before.
He has many of the same physical qualities that make Wentz a leading MVP candidate. You can file that under “ridiculous’’ if you like, but the ability is there. We simply haven’t seen it much, buried as it is under a bad team and a coaching staff that should be on its way out the door.
The Eagles are great, and the Bears aren’t. Try to remember that if Trubisky has a bad game Sunday.