Long before Bears GM Ryan Pace put pieces in place that pushed us to dream about this team’s second-year quarterback following in the footsteps of the 2017 Eagles and Rams, the inescapable comparison was with Pace’s former employer – the Saints.
The Bears were destined to build a New Orleans style offense under Pace, right? Big-bodied tight end with a basketball background? Adam Shaheen as Jimmy Graham could work if you think about it for long enough. An undersized back with blazing speed and play-making ability as a rusher, receiver, and returner? Yeah, I bet you remember the Darren Sproles-Tarik Cohen comps. Heck, you might even remember Sproles throwing out ideas on how to use Cohen moving forward.
So leave it to a fellow second-year player to compare Mitch Trubisky to the player who makes it all work in New Orleans:
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) June 15, 2018
Brees is the gold standard in quarterbacking in Pace’s eyes, so I bet it was music to the GM’s ears to hear his young, up-and-coming safety favorably comparing his young, up-start quarterback to an all-time great. But this isn’t the first time a Drew Brees-Mitch Trubisky comparison has been dropped. Let’s re-visit some recent history.
Shortly after drafting Trubisky in 2017, Pace met with the media and said Trubisky had the kind of traits the organization valued in a quarterback – ones he had previously seen in Drew Brees:
“It’s all the traits as far as leadership, how he is with his teammates, what his work ethic is like, and all the physical traits as well, accuracy. All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defense, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket and things are collapsing. Those guys all have those traits. Mitch has those traits, Drew has those traits.”
Beyond the athleticism and arm talent, Brees is an interesting comp for Trubisky simply based on background. Trubisky said he idolized Brees growing up, and if that’s the case, then the Bears’ quarterback is probably mindful of Brees’ path to greatness and how his career beginnings were similar to his own.
Before Brees was an all-world signal caller in New Orleans, he was toiling in San Diego’s run-based offense under Marty Schottenheimer. Brees posted a respectable 84.7 passer rating and averaged 209.1 yards per game in the air as a starter during his four years with the Chargers. He simply didn’t need to air it out when the alternative was turning around and handing it off to Hall-of-Fame-bound running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was averaging 1,531 rushing yards and 16 ground scores during that four-year stretch.
Much like the Chargers did during Brees’ developmental years, the Bears played it cautious and conservative when it came to Trubisky during his rookie season. That is going to change with Matt Nagy, whose offense figures to stretch the field more than anything Chicago saw during the last three seasons.
It was a different offensive climate then, but it’s worth noting that Brees averaged modest numbers – 3,032 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions – in his 58 starts. Quarterbacks don’t simply roll out of bed and average 4,800 yards and 34 touchdowns. Proper development and instruction, coupled with joining the right coach (Sean Payton) at the right time were key for Brees’ growth. Perhaps we’ll look back at Nagy and Trubisky coming together similarly down the line.