By Greg Gabriel–
(670 The Score) When the Bears drafted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky second overall last April, we were all told what the plan was. In 2017, Trubisky was going to focus on developing and sit as Mike Glennon led the Bears.
It was a good plan in theory, as rookie quarterbacks often find more adversity than success when asked with playing before they’re ready, especially on undermanned teams. As it has turned out for the Bears, I can’t say I disagreed with the plan, but I can also say I’m glad the Bears didn’t follow through with their original approach.
Trubisky has now started nine games in his rookie season and by season’s end should start in 12. Since taking over in Week 5 against the Vikings in October, Trubisky has shown vast improvement. Trubisky faced three of the league’s better defenses in the Vikings, Ravens and Panthers in his first three starts, and that was helpful because each of those teams run different schemes.
That allowed Trubisky to be exposed to different styles immediately, helping him learn how blitz packages were used and how different defensive coordinators try to confuse a young quarterback. Trubisky was a work in progress and early on, we didn’t see consistent improvement from week to week. As his progress was slow, there were multiple parties to blame. Trubisky deserved some fault, but the personel around him and the play-calling also wasn’t suiting him.
On Sunday, it all turned around. Trubisky played by far the best game of his young career, completing 25 of 32 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in the Bears’ 33-7 win against the Bengals. Credit has to be given to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who called an excellent game. He wasn’t as conservative as usual and mixed it up. We saw more throws on first down, more quick passes and more bootlegs and misdirection. The offensive game plan wasn’t close to what we had seen in the previous eight games as the Bears had 482 offensive yards and held the ball for more than 38 minutes.
We’re now seeing Trubisky come of age. While the Bears’ 4-9 mark wasn’t what they expected, the important part for the long-term was the development of Trubisky. Without a top quarterback, teams in the NFL can’t expect to be consistent playoff contenders. The Bears now have the quarterback and once the front office surrounds him with capable players, Chicago should be set up for success.
Trubisky is going to greatly benefit being forced to play before he was ready. The growing pains he went through this year will play off as soon as next year. All you have to do is look at the progress that Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz have shown in their second year of play. Goff looked like a first-round bust a year ago but is playing at a Pro Bowl level this year with the help of a new coaching staff. In Wentz’s case, he has the same support staff but has gone from being an inconsistent rookie to the MVP favorite before he injured his knee in Sunday’s game.
Bears fans can look to next year and hope that the turnaround is similar, as Trubisky has some outstanding traits. What he needs is experience and a stronger supporting cast, and we should then see a team that can consistently challenge for a playoff slot.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.