After highlighting Mitch Trubisky’s struggles in Week 7, we were hoping he would get more opportunities to show that he’s fixed those mistakes. It didn’t exactly play out that way in Week 8 – especially after a first half where he struggled to move the ball – then again, it was good to see the Bears commit to the run deep in their opponent’s territory for a change.
So while Trubisky attempted 23 fewer throws against the Jets than he did when facing the Patriots, there was still stuff to dissect from his performance. Let’s jump into it.
Making the Easy Throw is Important
One of the more important criticisms Trubisky has faced has been an inability (or at minimum, an inconsistency) in making easy throws. Trubisky has missed his share of open receivers, whether it was because he didn’t make the correct read or because he simply misfired on the throw (usually over the top). And even though Trubisky had some agonizing misses on Sunday, he did flash an ability to make quick decisions and simple throws.
Take this one to Taylor Gabriel, for example:
Nice ball by Mictchell Trubisky hitting the speed out to Taylor Gabriel. Gabriel Ability to put his foot in the ground and change direction is incredible to watch pic.twitter.com/AHrZ5VUDa6
— All Things Football (@AllThingsFB) October 29, 2018
Not only was this a quick decision and release, the throw allows for Gabriel to make a cut-back into some open space. Getting the ball in Gabriel’s hands with open real estate around him is a key to this offense because his route-running, speed, and elusiveness make him a tough matchup for defenders.
Here is another example of Trubisky making a quick read and making an easy throw to a receiver in space for a first down:
Miller is such a boss! pic.twitter.com/EgznKiOJVa
— Greg Braggs Jr. (@GBraggsJr) October 28, 2018
Trubisky could have hit a number of open targets here, which is a sign of good scheming and play design by Head Coach Matt Nagy and Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich. Having open options simplifies things for Trubisky. As for the play itself, Trubisky appears to quickly read the zone coverage, Anthony Miller streaks behind the defenders and makes the catch. That’s a read (and throw) Trubisky has missed in earlier weeks, so to see him nail it in Week 8 suggests he is learning from prior mistakes.
Do the Little Things Correctly
Nagy has attempted to drive home the importance of getting the little things done correctly in this offense and Trubisky has echoed his sentiments. Getting the little things done increases the possibilities for big plays to happen. A great example of that can be seen on Tarik Cohen’s 70-yard touchdown reception on a simple screen pass.
Check it out:
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) October 28, 2018
Yes, the timing of the play call is perfect. And there is no doubt Cohen did all the dirty work to get into the end zone. But let’s not ignore Trubisky’s contributions here. Facing an all-out blitz, Trubisky calmly gets himself in a position to make the throw and accurately floats one to Cohen. In previous weeks, Trubisky would have been more likely to rush through his progression, make an off-balance throw, or panic and take a sack. He didn’t about the value in how doing that makes for more possibilities for success.
In fact, it’s something we took note of when we reviewed his performance in Week 3 when he faced a blitz on a screen pass and threw an interception against the Cardinals. If you review both plays, you’ll see where progress has been made.
Underrated Athleticism on Display
Mitch Trubisky is a skilled athlete and I’ll hear nothing to the contrary. Take this run for example:
— Matt O'Leary (@MattOLearyNY) October 28, 2018
Beating Jamal Adams in a foot-race is impressive, especially if you’ll recall that Adams ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day.
Athleticism + Intelligence = Positive Plays
There have been times where Trubisky gets to scrambling after one read. And while successful, there will come a point where you’re going to want him to go deeper through his progressions.
Here is an example of Trubisky going through his reads, using his mobility not to run out of the pocket, but to move within it, and create a completion:
Anthony Miller. As tough as they come! pic.twitter.com/WhnMFS56Qj
— Greg Braggs Jr. (@GBraggsJr) October 28, 2018
That Trubisky doesn’t immediately run when given the opportunity is a win. And sure, there are two defenders left to cover three guys, which is another example of good scheming. But Trubisky takes the path of least resistance and gains some yards in the process. That’s good, too.
Examining Trubisky’s Misses
Trubisky has missed his share of throws this season, but we don’t often discuss how or why it happens. Sure, some of the misses can be chalked up to sometimes quarterbacks miss throws. It happens and will continue to happen. However, some throws are missed because Trubisky can be inconsistent at times with his mechanics.
This miss to an open target is due to a mechanical hitch. Great eyes by the folks at Bears Barroom to catch this one:
Trubisky opens up the left hip too much and again sails throws pic.twitter.com/fWzsEsNyxh
— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) October 28, 2018
The Jets defense doesn’t have a ton of big names, but they have some building blocks that should do well for them in the future. Buffalo’s defense is in a similar place, but presents a different challenge because they can be more aggressive than most teams when it comes to dialing up a blitz. Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott and his Bears counterpart Matt Nagy crossed paths in Philadelphia in 2009-10 when both worked under Andy Reid. McDermott was the Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator while Nagy was a Coaching Intern and Coaching Assistant. That prior relationship adds a hint of additional intrigue going into this matchup. Hopefully, Nagy has Trubisky ready for the challenges he knows are coming from an intelligent defensive play-caller.