One of Mitch Trubisky’s quietest, but biggest improvements from his rookie year to his second season was his red-zone efficiency – and he can thank tight end Trey Burton for helping him excel in that area.
Indeed, according to Pro Football Focus, Burton was one of the NFL’s best red-zone tight ends in 2018, posting the league’s fourth-best red-zone grade (72.7) among all players at the position. Only Eric Ebron (85.7), Travis Kelce (82.7), and Zach Ertz (77.9) earned higher grades than Burton.
Along the same lines, Bears quarterbacks posted a 131.3 passer rating when targeting Burton in the red-zone, which was a league-best number. Burton was productive inside-the-20, catching 11 of 12 targets and scoring five touchdowns. All things considered, it’s no coincidence Mitch Trubisky was superb in the red zone as a second-year player after putting up some pretty woeful stats in that area of his game last season.
As a rookie, Trubisky posted a 78.9 passer rating and completed just 48.2 percent of his red zone attempts. It was a woeful showing that underscored how much growth he had to make in order to make a successful trip to the next level. A year later, Trubisky threw 17 touchdowns and just one interception, posted a 101.9 passer rating, and was sacked just three times in 63 drop-backs when in the red zone. A new head coach, offensive philosophy, and natural improvements that come with a quarterback’s maturation are reason for the up-tick in production, but let’s not overlook the playmakers around him who helped make it happen. Specifically, Burton.
Burton is keeping good company by being ranked among football’s best red-zone tight ends. Kelce is a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler. Ertz, a two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, is coming off a season in which he set an NFL record for most receptions set by a tight end. Ebron was a top-10 pick in 2014 with notable prospect pedigree whose career didn’t take off until joining the Colts in 2018 and putting together a Pro Bowl season. And one thing that connects this foursome should give Bears fans hope that a breakout could soon be coming from their own tight end.
It’s worth noting that each of the top four players in this group have connections to the Andy Reid tree in one way or another. Kelce plays for Reid now. Ertz plays for Doug Pederson, while Burton plays for Matt Nagy – a pair of Reid disciples. Ebron plays for Frank Reich, a branch off the Pederson coaching tree (which makes him extended family from the Reid tree). It’s evident that this particular collection of coaches knows how to get tight ends involved in the offense and puts them in situations to be successful. And in turn, the respective quarterbacks in said system look great. All things considered, this probably isn’t a coincidence.
If Trubisky is going to take another step forward in his development, he’ll need to continue his strong play in the red zone by leading touchdown drives, rather than settling for field goals. And if Burton can be as productive between the 20s as he is when he is inside the red-zone, then we could see big years from two of the most important players on offense.