By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) The Bears have finally made the move we all knew was going to happen at some point this year. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, is now the starting quarterback.
The Bears preferred for Trubisky to sit and learn the NFL game for at least a few more weeks, but the horrible play of Mike Glennon forced their hand. So now that the change has been made, what can we expect?
I expect a huge improvement in the Bears offense because of what Trubisky brings to the table. He showed during the preseason that he’s capable of making quick decisions and getting the ball out of his hand quickly. That alone is a huge improvement from Glennon. With his athleticism, Trubisky will also be able to extend or make plays with his feet. Because defenses must be aware of his mobility, the pass rush won’t be as aggressive. Teams will need to play some outside contain, otherwise Trubisky will find positive yardage when he decides it’s best to hold onto the ball.
Will the Bears’ offense change that much? Probably not, but I do expect they will run more boots and rollouts to get Trubisky out on the perimeter. He showed in college and during the preseason that he’s a capable thrower when on the run. That also helps the Bears in that if the pass isn’t there, he can take off and run.
Defenses won’t attack like they have been throughout the Bears’ 1-3 start, as they’ll have to respect what Trubisky can do. Last year after Jay Cutler went down with an injury, this coaching staff did a remarkable job in getting Brian Hoyer and then Matt Barkley ready to play each week. The game plans played into each quarterback’s strengths. Expect the same now.
Some have mentioned that Trubisky will have added pressure on him given the recent play of rookie Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, whom Trubisky was selected before. That’s ridiculous for several reasons.
First, Watson plays on a stronger football team, as the Texans were a playoff team a year ago and have considerably better talent at the wide receiver position and on along a veteran offensive line. On top of that, Houston has one of the better defenses in the NFL. It all puts the Texans in better shape to turn to a rookie quarterback than the Bears are, and it puts Watson in a better situation to succeed than Trubisky will encounter. The Texans’ situation isn’t unlike the Dallas Cowboys’ situation last year when they had to play then-rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and did so with success.
For years, we’ve seen that NFL coaches were reluctant to play a rookie quarterback because of their lack of experience. After watching Prescott and Carson Wentz last year and Watson this year, I’m not so sure that the reasoning to not play a rookie is valid any longer.
What it comes down to is the player’s makeup. One trait that Watson, Prescott and Wentz have in common is outstanding football character. They want to be great players and will do everything they can to make sure that’s what they become. From all reports, Trubisky is much the same way. He has a great work ethic, and the game is important to him. He wants to be the leader of the team, and he wants to be a playoff regular. His intangibles are top notch, and that’s half the battle with quarterbacks.
Will Trubisky make rookie mistakes? Of course he will, and some of those mistakes will cost the Bears games. But the important part is that what he learns this year will help develop the foundation for a future successful career. If the Bears have success with him this year, then it’s a bonus.
Watching Trubisky in the preseason, I saw a player who was far more prepared than I expected. Don’t forget, he only started for one season in college, yet he played like an experienced veteran and showed poise. In his first series as a pro, he took the Bears on six-play, 50-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the first half. I don’t care that it was a preseason contest, that was another sign that Trubisky has the “it” factor.
The situation wasn’t too big for him, and he responded.
Will the same happen next Monday night when Trubisky and the Bears host the Vikings? Who knows, but I for one am excited to see how he responds. My bet is he will again impress.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.