Mitch Trubisky’s six-touchdown breakout against the Buccaneers was an eye-opening moment for many, including Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
Young serves as an analyst for ESPN and his perspective on quarterback play is one that is greatly appreciated for those of us who want to learn more about the most important position in sports. In a video recently shared by ESPN, Young attempted to impart some wisdom on the young quarterback by way of an eyebrow-raising comparison.
“If he can get out of this wanting to be perfect and find himself more of an artist. Artists don’t worry about painting outside of the lines a little bit,” Young explained. “He’s gotta be careful he doesn’t throw three or four interceptions, I get that. But he wants to be painting so close to the lines, it causes him some grief. If he can do that thing, he can be really good.” TL;DR: “LOOSEN UP, MITCH!”
To be sure – and fair to Trubisky – the Bears young quarterback actually does have the seventh highest AGG% in the NFL, and that’s not nothing:
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 27%
- Dak Prescott: 23.6%
- Josh Rosen: 20.3%
- Blake Bortles: 19.9%
- Ryan Fitzpatrick: 19.4%
- Joe Flacco: 18.9%
- Mitchell Trubisky: 18.5%
- Case Keenum: 18.2%
- Tyrod Taylor: 17.9%
AGG%, as explained by Next Gen Stats, is used to measure how often a quarterback throws into tight coverage, where a defender is within 1 yard or less of his intended receiver at the time of completion or incompletion.
I’m not saying being super aggressive is ever going to be an exclusively good or bad thing – the top-10 company is certainly mixed and this has at least something to say about his intended receivers ability to create space – but Trubisky has pretty clearly been known to play loose. For what it’s worth, he’s been consistent too, about it too (18.2 AGG% in 2017).
Then again, it’s quite possible that the apparent aggressiveness is not a byproduct of playing loose, but rather of too strictly following the progressions and forcing something written down, when it would’ve been wiser to go “off-script.” It’s a thought.
Here’s another thought: One way Trubisky could get a little more “artistic,” so to speak, could be with the long ball. His 8.0 average intended yards/pass (16th in the NFL) may have improved over last season’s mark (7.7 yards, 28th in NFL), but I suppose it’s not unfair to say it’s still moderately conservative. Then again, some of this has to do with play-calling and not necessarily anything over which Trubisky is in control. But Young’s point is still well-taken.
And in any case, it’s quite evident that Young likes what Trubisky brings to the table, lauding the second-year quarterback’s study habits, preparation, and passion for the game. Yes, he also makes it clear that Trubisky needs to open up a bit if he is truly going to become the quarterback he wants to be, but there’s definitely stuff to like.
And I don’t want to step on his point too much, because there’s certainly something there: Trubisky’s quest to be a perfectionist *can* turn into an impediment for his growth, especially as his eagerness and thirst for perfection makes him robotic at times. Robotic quarterbacks don’t appear to be the type that will succeed in this league, unless you’re Peyton Manning (and he’s more of a cyborg who was sent from the future to save the quarterbacking position and tell dad jokes in commercials). In any case, Trubisky has a lot going for him. And to be showered with praise from a Hall of Fame quarterback is a big deal.
But that small bit of advice from Young sounds like something the Bears young QB would be wise to internalize. You can watch Young’s full quip here:
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.