One of the most troublesome things of Mitch Trubisky’s rookie season was the lack of deep-ball success. To be fair, there were times when Trubisky threw a good-looking deep pass … it’s just that it didn’t happen often enough for anyone to get a good feel about it.
The 2017 Bears were one of the least likely teams to stretch a defense vertically. Whether it was by choice or by design, or my favorite, choice by design, going deep simply wasn’t a thing Chicago’s offense did much. Thus, it wasn’t something that was really in Trubisky’s arsenal. So while that figured to change with the hiring of Matt Nagy as the new head coach, progress in the deep-ball department was slow to show itself. And this is where I hit you with the good news: Mitch Trubisky is starting to find the confidence to let loose.
This statistic is awfully encouraging:
Mitchell Trubisky, percentage of throws that traveled 15+ air yards —
First three games: 15.4%
Last two games: 33.3%
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 17, 2018
As are the ones on the right side of this Pro Football Focus graphic:
You can't definitively say one would have happened without the other, but both Mitchell Trubisky's deep attempt rate and his fantasy points per game have jumped in a big way this year.
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 16, 2018
Trubisky throwing the highest percentage of pass attempts traveling 20+ yards (18.6 percent) one year after ranking in the bottom 10 in the same category is a sign of monumental growth from the second-year quarterback. No wonder Steve Young thinks you should loosen up a bit.
So now that he is throwing it more, how is it looking? Well, great so far.
A Perfect Throw
Trubisky with a perfect pass deep to 5-8 Taylor Gabrielpic.twitter.com/xBGugwMrjb
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
Solid footwork in the dropback? Check. Planting of the feet to throw? Yep. Quick and decisive release? Uh huh. And an anticipation throw in a place where only his guy can catch it? You betcha. If it’s underthrown, it’s picked off. If it’s sailed too far, it’s incomplete. These are the types of throws you expect guys taken with the No. 2 overall pick to attempt and complete.
Don’t believe me? Fine. Let’s check in on Bill Belichick:
Bill Belichick goes on to say that the long pass from Mitchell Trubisky to WR Taylor Gabriel down the sideline against Miami was as good of a throw and catch he’s seen all year. Said they executed it very well. #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) October 17, 2018
Bill Belichick: "The execution of the play from Trubisky to Gabriel down the sideline, that’s about as good of a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year. The execution was like a 99 out of a 100."
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) October 17, 2018
If Once is Good, Then Twice Must Be Better
Trubisky has always been very comfortable with the near sideline deep ball.
Still not exactly sure what to make of his season so far (next play I post will be a good example of why) but as far as this one goes, a dime is a dime. pic.twitter.com/MvkddMtD7k
— Tom Di Benedetto (@Producer_Tom) October 15, 2018
It also helps when the Bears are putting deep looks in packages and route trees:
#Bears film — Early 2Q. Too bad #Bears didn’t have protection accounted for here. Taylor Gabriel ended up streaking wide open toward end zone, but unblocked Dolphin pressure didn’t allow Trubisky to see it. Perhaps a pre-snap correction to be made here. pic.twitter.com/KX0gl2z3iy
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) October 16, 2018
Call it a hunch, but I feel like we’ll see Trubisky hit Gabriel (or whoever this receiver happens to be) if it’s open at a later date (assuming he gets better protection than he received in this particular snap).
The Most Underrated Throw of the Game
29 yard TD Trubisky to Miller. 11 play 75 yard drive pic.twitter.com/FXqZf4x57C
— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) October 14, 2018
To set the stage, it’s 3rd-and-9 and Trubisky had just thrown that back-breaking red-zone interception that led to the Dolphins’ game-tying drive. In a moment where Trubisky could’ve easily folded, he came through with a clutch drive and a score that could have won the game.
I count six men coming after the quarterback with pressure on the outside. Credit the offensive line for standing their ground and creating a clean pocket. But also tip your cap to Trubisky for not completing his dropback despite the oncoming pressure, spotting the open receiver behind the busted coverage, and making an accurate throw. We all remember the hubbub around here when Trubisky missed an open Trey Burton in Week 1. But if Trubisky is actually learning from his mistakes and correcting them, then watch out.
The One Costly Mistake
This might be the dumbest throw Trubisky has made since becoming the Bears’ starting quarterback. It’s 1st-and-goal and there’s no reason to try and get it all back at once. But Trubisky does … and targets the third-string tight end in the process. The whole progression makes no sense. That’s a rookie mistake, but Trubisky isn’t a rookie any more, so that simply can’t happen. Trubisky took ownership of his oops moment quickly in the post-game press conference, and since we’ve seen him clean up some of his other mistakes after he has acknowledged them, I feel as if I’m willing to allow myself to trust him not to make that mistake again.
Is the Sophomore Jump Here?
.@ChicagoBears @Mtrubisky10 making the kind of “sophomore “ jump that most teams only dream about. The talent that they have brought in is all paying dividends . It’s only 6 games but it sure feels like #Bears are doing things right even after a painful loss. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/PT1zoGENk7
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 16, 2018
Brian Baldinger’s breakdown of Trubisky’s play softens the blow of what was a tough loss. We’re only six weeks into the season, but there have been plenty of signs of growth so far. Could Trubisky level off or take a step back at any given week? Sure. In fact, I’d say you would be foolish to think Trubisky is a finished product or won’t have a bad game ever again. But as I’ve maintained throughout the year, development isn’t going to be linear. HOWEVER, the steps in the right direction have been worth documenting.
BONUS CLIP: Here are some elite mechanics on a post-touchdown fist pump. Feel the excitement!
Don’t you EVER compare Jay Cutler’s passion to Trubisky’s. This was the TD pass to Robinson and look at his reaction. pic.twitter.com/xDHU5wsOJc
— David Prince (@gdavidprince) October 15, 2018