Disappointment, sorrow, mortification, frustration, despondency…
If you’re currently experiencing these symptoms, chances are you’re a Chicago Bears fan. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to summarize the feelings of Bears’ supporters after a 3-5 start to what should have been an astounding season.
It’s a season that’s been awfully memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
At the beginning of September, it would’ve been inconceivable to believe the Monsters of the Midway would be out of contention with still eight regular-season games remaining. However, as things stand on Nov. 6, that’s exactly what’s happened.
While there are several aspects that should be at blame — inept play-calling, a painfully-bad offense, and a regressing defense — it all begins with the sheer disappointment that third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been.
Just a season removed from an imperfect, yet promising campaign where he threw for over 3,200 yards, 24 touchdowns, and was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, Trubisky has seen massive regression through six full games. The former No. 2 overall pick holds just a 5:3 TD:INT ratio, failing to throw for more than 253 yards in any contest to this point.
When it comes to yards per pass attempt (5.6), the North Carolina alum ranks dead last amongst all qualifying signal-callers and his 80.0 passer rating also places in the bottom-four. Amidst the Bears’ offensive struggles (fourth-fewest yards per game in the league), Trubisky has missed wide-open receivers on a regular basis and has struggled mightily in the red-zone.
It was a make-or-break game for the Bears this past Sunday against the Eagles, one where the team desperately needed Trubisky to show even the slightest glimpse of progression against a bottom-feeding Philadelphia secondary. Unsurprisingly, however, it was the same lackluster play throughout. In fact, Chicago’s nine total yards of offense in the first half was the team’s worst one-half output in nearly a decade (Nov. 29, 2009).
Feast your eyes on just a couple of the painfully-bad throws that Trubisky made against Philly. In the first clip, he misses a wide-open Allen Robinson on what would’ve been a guaranteed first down on the opening drive of the game.
Bears QB Mitch Trubisky misses a wide open Allen Robinson on third down pic.twitter.com/SKr8m7IHvT
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) November 3, 2019
Up next is yet another abysmal attempt to hit an open Trey Burton on a seam route that would’ve put the team in enemy territory with a chance to score in the concluding minutes of the second quarter.
Bears QB Mitch Trubisky throws a dime to TE Trey Burton pic.twitter.com/OUeZgQb7td
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) November 4, 2019
It’s becoming more painfully obvious each week that Trubisky won’t pan out as anything more than an average (at best) quarterback in this league, which is even more frustrating considering general manager Ryan Pace moved up a spot to grab him in the 2017 NFL Draft, especially since both Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes still on the board.
With that being said, should head coach Matt Nagy consider throwing in the towel and benching the former high-capital draft pick? What would this mean for the team’s rest-of-season outlook and organization as a whole moving forward?
First and foremost, benching Trubisky would almost certainly put an end to an era of a complete whiff by Pace at the quarterback position, a narrative that Bears fans have grown accustomed to over the years. Backup QB Chase Daniel isn’t the most physically-gifted, but he’s at least shown the ability to progress through his reads and make the easy throws – something that’s looked like an impossible task for Trubisky this season.
While Daniel underwhelmed in his first start of the year against the Raiders in Week 5, he performed admirably in a big divisional victory against Minnesota the week prior. In that contest against the Vikings, the NFL journeyman completed nearly 75 percent of his pass-attempts, tossing for just under 200 yards and a touchdown. These stats don’t pop off the sheet, but Daniel got the job done — simple as that.
At 3-5 on the year in a tough NFC North race, it looks like a foregone conclusion that the Bears won’t be making the playoffs in 2019. While this is probably true, crazier things have happened in the NFL, and Chicago still possesses a top-10 defense that should keep them in most games.
While Chuck Pagano’s unit has taken a step back in the last few weeks, it’s hard for any defense to remain elite with an ineffective offense opposite of them. We know this team has plenty of talent (on both sides of the ball), and getting the ship right all starts with improved quarterback play.
Simply put, Daniel is the quarterback that currently gives this team the best chance to win. The playoffs may be a long-shot, but without a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, Chicago gains nothing by continuing to lose games. For this reason, Matt Nagy and his staff would be doing fans, as well as themselves, a major disservice by continuing to roll Trubisky out onto the field. He’s not the long-term answer at the helm, meaning it’s back to the drawing board for Pace and co. next offseason.
Benching Trubisky would be a bitter ending in the Windy City for the 25-year-old, but it’s a move that ultimately needs to be considered.