In the first half of last night’s opener, Mitch Trubisky completed 78.6 percent of his passes, scored a rushing touchdown, and posted a 99.1 passer rating en route to a 17-0 halftime lead against the Packers in Green Bay. He was sharp, made smart decisions with the football, and even worked the ball vertically with some degree of confidence. Indeed, I just can’t shake the feeling that he played well enough to earn legitimate credit for putting his team in a position to win a football game on the road against a contending division rival like the Packers. Let’s not lose sight of that. Really.
But let’s also not pretend it wasn’t a disappointing second-half (and, thus, overall game) from the Bears young QB. After half-time, Trubisky completed just 57.1 percent of his passes, making for a woeful 62.2 passer rating, and engineered only two scoring drives, both of which ended in field goals, keeping the window open just wide enough for Aaron Rodgers’ miraculous come-from-behind victory. When push came to shove, Trubisky fell short and it was painful to watch. But ultimately, it’s just not black or white. In fact, it’s kind of black and white.
Trubisky – and, really, the Bears’ entire offense under Head Coach Matt Nagy and Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich – is a work in progress. That much is clear. And Sunday’s game was perfectly representative of that. But we’re looking at a signal caller who executed a strong game-plan out of the gate and performed admirably to start the second-half, after making halftime adjustments. That is a very good thing. Picking up a game plan and executing it at a high level from the outset isn’t easy. So for Trubisky to show what he did early on is a legitimately encouraging sign, regardless of what followed.
But, of course, we’re also looking at a quarterback who had things go south on him when things went off script. There were moments in crunch time where Trubisky wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be and struggled when things didn’t go to plan. These are the types of growing pains we wish Trubisky would have experiences as a rookie last year, when the stakes were lower, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the Bears are left to try and work through the sort of growing pains that should’ve already been addressed. If the Bears are truly going to take advantage of the competitive window they opened by acquiring Khalil Mack and bulking up on the defensive side of the ball, Trubisky has to be good. Period.
In the end, he’s certainly shown the potential for greatness (including on multiple occasions last night), but it just didn’t happen long enough (or in the situations that mattered most) to calm any nerves. With that said, if you’re tempted to quit on Trubisky now, don’t. I won’t be. There’s still plenty in there to get excited over and a very bright future ahead. But maybe … just don’t expect the sailing to be smooth right away.
It wasn’t last night and might not be for a while.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.