Mitch Trubisky’s rookie season went better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected.
After starting just 13 games at the University of North Carolina, Trubisky took over as the Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback in Week 5. The Bears won just four of the 12 games he started, but he posted some respectable numbers and had flashes of brilliance, which have provided us with just enough to dream on.
And by the end of the year, Pro Football Focus’ metrics saw Trubisky’s season as a net positive. In fact, the site’s stats ranked him as the best rookie quarterback in 2017:
Overall grades for the rookie QBs in 2017! pic.twitter.com/En4o0YfAhT
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 14, 2018
Yep, better than Deshaun Watson, who had a higher passer rating and threw more touchdowns in fewer games than the Bears’ own first-round quarterback.
Watson and Trubisky will be compared from now until their careers end. And after the Bears hired Matt Nagy as the team’s new head coach to help accelerate Trubisky’s development, comparisons to Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will begin to pick up too.
After all, the hope is that Trubisky takes major strides in his development under a quarterback-friendly head coach much like Goff and Wentz did in 2017. Expecting a quantum leap would be unfair, but it’s worth noting Trubisky is in a good position to take that next step. At least, he is in a better place than Goff was after his rookie year.
Goff’s 45.6 grade as a rookie from PFF was the lowest among first-round rookie quarterbacks to start at least seven games since 2013. If you’ll recall, Goff didn’t start until midseason and he struggled with his mechanics and decision-making en route to posting troublesome counting stats – including having more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5). With a new coach Sean McVay in tow, upgraded weapons on the outside, and new pieces on the offensive line, Goff trimmed his interception rate and aired it out to the tune of 28 touchdowns and more than 3,800 yards in Year 2.
Wentz had a better rookie season than Goff, passing for more than 3,700 yards and throwing for more touchdowns (14) than interceptions (12). But after a hot start, Wentz’s production took a step back and eventually plateaued. He finished with a rookie season grade of 78.3 by PFF’s standards, which is the third-best showing from a first-round quarterback in his rookie season. Only Teddy Bridgewater (84.6 in 2014) and Jameis Winston (80.6 in 2015) were better.
Analyzing Trubisky’s performance based solely on PFF’s grade wouldn’t be right because so much goes into the position. Assessing his overall body of work and putting one number on it would feel like an incomplete mission. Still, PFF’s metrics, data, and grades are a part of the puzzle with some value. That Trubisky’s rookie season grades out favorably among his peers is an encouraging sign, but if the Bears’ front office doesn’t follow it up by surrounding him with talent, that might be as good as it gets.