Against the 49ers on Sunday, Bears QB Mitch Trubisky posted a 117.2 passer rating and completed 12 of 15 passes (80 percent!) with two incomplete throws counting as drops, and the third registering as a throw-away. He also threw a touchdown to Dontrelle Inman on the offense’s lone scoring drive, but that’s where the good vibes end.
It’s difficult to piece together a fair assessment of Trubisky’s performance when the offense ran only 36 plays (compared to the 73 run by the 49ers) and was on the field for just over 21 minutes. But when Trubisky was on the field, the offense reverted into a form that no team with a developing quarterback should want to employ.
According to Pro Football Focus, Trubisky threw just two passes beyond 10 yards and didn’t make a single throw that traveled more than 19 yards in the air – conservative numbers reminiscent of the Bears’ offense during the Mike Glennon era. And even when he had a chance at a potential deep throw on a free play when a 49ers defender came offsides, he settled for a short throw to a receiver on intermediate route. And herein lies the downside of starting Trubisky ahead of schedule, when the play calling “must be” safe.
But even if the conservative offense is corrupting Trubisky and/or slowing his development, it has turned the rookie into something of a vocal locker room leader – and that’s a very good thing for a young quarterback to show.
“I know we fought on the field and I know a lot of the guys, they’re putting their bodies on the line – up front, protecting for me, on defense making plays, they’re flying around,” Trubisky said in verbal support of his teammates, via JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re not just doing this for nothing, we’re doing it for a purpose. We’re just not getting the results we want.”
And that’s not all. For the second time in 18 days, Trubisky made a public push to get Tarik Cohen more looks on offense:
Mitch Trubisky on Tarik Cohen: "He's awesome. We just need to continue to find ways to get him the ball. He's so explosive." #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) December 3, 2017
Trubisky isn’t going to make major waves as a rookie, but it’s worth noting that he gradually nudged the Bears the last time he believed Cohen wasn’t getting enough playing time or touches, and now he’s done it again. Yesterday, Cohen scored the Bears’ other touchdown on a dazzling 61-yard punt return, but was on the field for just 16 plays (or 43.2 percent of snaps) and received just six touches.
While the Bears’ coaching staff put together a game plan that kept Trubisky mostly under wraps, his counterpart Jimmy Garoppolo was slinging it around the field to the tune of 37 attempts. The 49ers play calling late allowed for Garoppolo to matriculate down the field and produce a game-winning scoring drive.
And in those moments, we saw how valuable it can be when a head coach prioritizes a young quarterback’s development and strengths.