Being the No. 2 overall pick and an expectant franchise quarterback because of the lengths the Bears went to acquire him, Mitch Trubisky comes to Chicago carrying the weight of some lofty expectations. But first, Trubisky will have to wait his turn behind Mike Glennon, who signed on to be a starter in 2017, and possibly behind Mark Sanchez, who was brought in to play the role of veteran backup.
In an ideal world, good things come to those who wait. At least, that is what one projection suggests.
Over at NFL.com, Bucky Brooks runs down what could be in store for some of the most highly touted rookies on the offensive side of the ball. Among them is Trubisky, whose best-case scenario as described by Brooks doesn’t involve him throwing a pass of significance during the regular season. Brooks doesn’t believe Trubisky will see the field in 2017, going as far as to not project any stats for his rookie season. In fact, Brooks expects the Bears to show what would be an unbelievable level of restraint by allowing Trubisky to spend the entire season developing on the sidelines and on the practice field with an eye on 2018 and beyond.
To begin understanding why this would be a good thing, let’s examine Brooks’ worst-case scenario:
“Bears fans might want to see their prized pick take the field in 2017, but the rookie would likely struggle due to his limited experience (only 13 collegiate starts) and a weak supporting cast. Although he has the raw talent to win the job from Glennon during the season, the Bears would be wise to stick to a slow development plan for their future QB1. After all, this team doesn’t appear to be poised for big things in 2017. Rushing Trubisky into the lineup probably wouldn’t do much to help the present — and could severely affect the future.”
Short-term satisfaction shouldn’t be a priority for a team in this phase of a rebuilding process. Trubisky is as talented as any of the quarterbacks in the 2017 draft, and the fact that one could make a case for him being talented enough to take Glennon’s job during the season says a lot for what analysts think of Trubisky’s upside. However, the surrounding talent doesn’t project to make for a soft landing for an inexperienced rookie.
A quarterback’s success is dependent on the supporting cast around him, and a rookie at the position is no exception – especially one with only 13 college starts under his belt. On the offensive side of the ball, the Bears have more questions than answers despite having quality building blocks in running back Jordan Howard, as well as the trio of interior linemen led by Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton, and Kyle Long.
The team’s pass catchers aren’t a highly regarded group, and the best case scenario here might be a unit that features several high-floor guys, but low ceilings – and potentially dangerously low floors – could limit offensive productivity. The group was recently ranked as the second worst position group, which doesn’t seem like an ideal mix to throw at a rookie quarterback.
Questions linger about what the Bears’ offensive line will look like on the outside with tackles Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie. Despite strength in the middle, the offensive line is perceived to be a position of need because of the tackles. Pro Football Focus graded the Bears’ line to be in the middle of the pack last year, but you can dream on some upside (thanks in part to earning PFF’s sixth best pass blocking grade) if you’d like. The Bears might want to extend Leno’s contract before he hits free agency, but he’ll need to show continued improvement as a pass blocker before justifying a multi-year deal. Massie signed as a free agent a year ago, but his grades via Pro Football Focus have declined in each of the last two seasons.
Trubisky playing before he is ready, behind an offensive line with questionable tackles, and throwing to an uninspiring group of receivers truly seems like a nightmare scenario. And it’s one the Bears seem to have guarded against with the way GM Ryan Pace has constructed the roster.
Admittedly, it’s a bit strange to see a best-case scenario where a rookie quarterback doesn’t play and a worst-case scenario in which he is handed the keys to the offense sooner, rather than later. But that seems to be exactly where we are in the Trubisky development process.