Mitchell Trubisky has done everything possible to ensure he is the frontrunner to win the quarterback competition against Nick Foles … so far.
Halas Hall may not be open for players to return just yet, but that hasn’t stopped the 25-year-old QB from reaching out to teammates to get together for throwing sessions. The latest video that surfaced over social media last week featured Trubisky working out with Allen Robinson, David Montgomery, Eric Saubert, Cody Whitehair and Cole Kmet.
Also in the video was Jeff Christensen, a well-renowned quarterback coach and the founder of Throw It Deep, an elite quarterback and wide receiver training academy near Chicago. Over the years, Christensen has trained Patrick Mahomes, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Tannehill and other NFL quarterbacks.
This also isn’t the first time Trubisky has worked with Christensen. On May 16, the Throw It Deep Instagram account posted a picture of Trubisky and Christensen at the Bill Koman Practice Complex in North Carolina.
Trubisky, now in his fourth season, is taking initiative of what he believes is still his team and is making sure that he is getting all the reps that he can until training camp officially begins.
On the other hand, Foles just welcomed his second child, Duke, last Wednesday and is now on his third team in the last three years. The former Super Bowl MVP also hasn’t been establishing any on-field chemistry with his new teammates, which is understandable given the impact of the COVID-19 virus and since Foles is with his family in California.
Still, Foles does have familiarity with head coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. And I’m sure he has become more comfortable with the Bears’ offense with each Zoom meeting, but as DeFilippo said in his conference call with reporters last Thursday, “It’s not the same as being on the field with your teammates …”
I agree with DeFilippo, and despite saying several times on The Chicago Audible podcast that Foles will win the starting job, at this point in time, obviously pre-training camp and preseason games, I’ll go ahead and say that Trubisky will be the starting quarterback come Week 1.
We’ll see how that changes in the next few months, but until then, let’s take a look at what the benefits and drawbacks would be if Trubisky does begin the 2020 NFL season as the Bears’ starting QB.
First and foremost, Trubisky starting over Foles proves he did just enough to keep the veteran QB on the sidelines while also demonstrating to Nagy and his new coaches that he is capable of running the offense.
With how Trubisky performed in 2019, there won’t be any benefit of the doubt given to him, so Trubisky winning the quarterback competition means he truly earned it with how he practiced during training camp and performed in the preseason.
This ideally means once the regular season starts, Nagy will see the best version of Trubisky. Accompany better quarterback play with what is supposed to be an improved offensive line with Juan Castillo leading the way and an improved rushing attack behind Montgomery and Tarik Cohen, and that should equate to a boost in offensive results for this season.
Another benefit of Trubisky being named the starter is the lower competition he would face to begin the season.
Going back to former Bears head coach Lovie Smith’s philosophy of breaking up the season into four quarters, the first quarter is the least challenging. The Bears begin on the road at Detroit, then host the Giants, travel to Atlanta the following week and end at home against Indianapolis.
Those four teams had a combined record of 21-42-1 last season and their defenses ranked towards the bottom of the league in DVOA, Football Outsiders’ “method of evaluating teams, units or players.”
- Lions – 28th
- Giants – 27th
- Falcons – 20th
- Colts – 17th
- Average = 23rd
And as Kevin Fishbain from The Athletic displayed in a table chart in his article “Fishbain: 5 thoughts on what a confident Mitch Trubisky means for the Bears,” Trubisky has had some of his best games of his career against teams with lower DVOAs.
One of the teams that appeared three times in that chart was the Lions. I’m sure, like most Bears fans, Trubisky was ecstatic to see the divisional opponent as the first game on the schedule.
Here is how Trubisky has performed against the Lions with Nagy as the head coach.
If Trubisky dominates the Lions like he has done in the past and then leads his team to some early victories, that could go a long way in establishing some confidence in a quarterback that looked defeated at times throughout the 2019 season.
Ultimately, facing those weaker defensive teams will allow general manager Ryan Pace and Nagy to see if Trubisky can truly bounce back and use that initial momentum to make something out of his possible last run with Chicago.
A lot was invested in Trubisky, and there wouldn’t be anything greater for the Bears’ organization than to see the former No. 2 overall pick finally prove to his team and his skeptics that he can be someone the franchise can count on.
Let’s just say Trubisky does do well against the Lions, Giants, Falcons and Colts. That would of course provide a glimmer of hope for a fanbase whose team was just ranked dead last in the Super Bowl era for quarterback production, according to ESPN’s Quarterback Index.
The reality of the situation, though, is that Bears fans should be on edge for what happens once the first quarter of the season is over. Chicago didn’t face one team with a DVOA in the top half of the league, but in quarter two, three of the four opponents will be ranked in the top half: Buccaneers (5th), Panthers (25th), Rams (9th) and Saints (11th).
Under Nagy, Trubisky is 19-10 as a starter, but he is lucky he has had a defense to bail him out for some of his poor performances against tougher defenses.
Here is how Trubisky has done against defenses ranked in the top half in DVOA the past two seasons.
If there is one team Trubisky wishes wasn’t on the schedule, it would have to be the Rams. Last season, Trubisky was benched in front of a national audience for an apparent shoulder injury, and in the 2018 matchup, which isn’t reflected in the table because the Rams ranked 18th in DVOA, he threw three interceptions.
This will also be the second straight season Trubisky will face the Saints. Although his stats in last year’s game might not look relatively bad compared to the others in the table, it’s worth noting that both of his touchdown passes came after the Bears were trailing 36-10 late in the fourth quarter.
Trubisky can at times take advantage of bad defenses, but he can rarely — unless it’s the Vikings’ defense — defeat good ones.
Once the second quarter of the season starts, that could realistically begin Trubisky’s downfall to becoming a bottom-echelon quarterback in the league, which is, unfortunately, something Bears fans have grown accustomed to seeing their entire lives.
Another huge drawback to Trubisky starting the season is the opportunities he would take away from Foles. After the Bears get sucked into Trubisky for four starts and are forced to switch sometime during the second quarter of the season, there is, maybe, eight regular season games left.
Even though Foles has made a career out of capitalizing on limited opportunities and playing in relief, it would be beneficial to have started against lower competition and not the opponents the Bears are scheduled to face in the third quarter of the season, which are the Titans, Vikings, Packers and Lions.
As mentioned earlier, Foles hasn’t been practicing with his new teammates. If he isn’t named the starter to begin the season, he wouldn’t be practicing with the first-team offense, and that would put him even further back from establishing the correct timing that is needed in Nagy’s offensive scheme.
Trubisky getting the first shot as the starting quarterback puts him in the best position possible to resurrect his career, but that scenario may be the reason the Bears fall short of making the playoffs.
The 2020 NFL season is shaping up to be a unique one, and whichever quarterback the Bears decide to name their starter could determine if this is a season worth remembering or one fans will look to quickly forget.